One of the biggest obstacles to patient engagement is lack of trust in terms of:
- The security and privacy of personal health information stored in a software system.
- The motives of software vendors, payers, providers, and government – just about anyone who would release a software product.
- The reliability, uptime, and robustness of software systems, such as the healthcare.gov website.
- A system’s ease-of-use.
The solutions to this deep-rooted problem are often outside of the control of an individual product manager, but acknowledging them is the first step. Here are some tips for getting started:
Assess the level of user distrust and perceived issues.
Leverage user experience research to identify specific pain points that influence how users interact with a system, such as when asked to input personal data.
Create a robust software product.
This aspect is so fundamental to a trusted software application and requires an experienced team of software developers.
Integrate with trusted software.
If a user has already accepted that his information is stored in an EHR, for example, integrating with that data eases the burden on the user and creates a sense that your product is an extension of an already trusted system.
Be part of a respected certification program.
At the time of writing, there is no “established” certification program but there are initiatives such as Cigna’s Go-You Marketplace,
for example, to promote healthcare applications online that have gone through a “curation process” that reportedly involves experts like behavioral scientists as well as consumer feedback. There is also Meaningful Use certification that ensures your meeting core usability requirements.
Publish your user experience design methodology and research results.
In an age of mistrust and uncertainty, there is much to be gained by being rigorous and transparent with users about how you created the application and what your research data showed.
Earn trust over the long term.
Earn trust by consistently providing value and being transparent. A nimble user experience design and software engineering process that enables a product manager to iterate quickly in response to user feedback is the fastest way to get there.
Releasing to the App Store is Not the Finish Line
Like any application, mobile apps need to be supported past their initial release. Unlike most desktop or web applications, app stores provide a convenient mechanism for users to rate the quality of the applications and provide feedback, which users often use to talk about what’s working and what features they would like to see in your application. Failing to read and respond to this feedback results in increased frustration and eventually users deleting your app from their device. If you have invested in the effort to build a mobile app, make time to monitor feedback. Learn from what users are telling you and provide regular updates to the application.
Great healthcare apps are not born great; they grow into great applications over time. By listening to your users, maintaining your focus on providing a great user experience and using technology to support that focus, you too can avoid the mobile app pitfalls and create five-star applications.
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