Human-Centered Design Key to Adoption for Digital Health Products

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[author: Michael Esquivel]

The recent Fenwick Digital Health Investor Summit included a presentation on how to design successful digital health products. Aimee Jungman, VP of Health and Wellness Innovation at frog design, discussed the four essential traits of products that gain wide adoption.

Be Real. Products need to be “familiar, personal, and culturally relevant” to patients. “Healthcare is a narrative for patients”, she explained, not a series of unrelated episodes. Successful products present data to patients in a timeline format because patients understand their health as a journey.

Tools that present data in chronological order have proven to be particularly successful in helping patients manage chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Be Compelling. There has been a flood of ‘quantified self’ products that capture what Jungman called “oodles of data”, but provide no context. Without context the data is meaningless or at least overwhelming. These products lack “stickiness” once the novelty wears off. 

Taking an example from another industry, Aimee cited Mint.com as an example of a product that has integrated financial data from different channels and provided context in a way that customers find compelling.

Be Actionable. To create stickiness, products have to be tied to an aspiration and a result. Going back to the earlier example, Mint is built around setting and achieving savings goals; a good digital health tool will allow patients to set goals such as weight loss or glucose levels and aggregate data to help them monitor their progress. 

Linking apps to peers through social networks or virtual coaches and mentors is another way to enable results and motivate compliance. 

Be Transparent. Healthcare costs and outcomes are notoriously opaque. As patients take a greater role in managing their own care, there is a demand for tools that demystify pricing and value. Tools to help patients evaluate health insurance options will be needed, particularly with new users entering the system that do not have experience navigating these choices.

But value isn’t only about money. We need greater transparency when it comes to outcomes. What really defines value to consumers is a combination of cost, convenience, and outcome. Helping patients decide where, when and how to access the healthcare system will provide real value.