Practitioners have clearly signaled they believe in the potential of mobile health to help solve patient engagement challenges.
Why is mobile health important?
It’s a question that most practitioners are asking themselves and at this point you should at least be familiar with some of the most basic terms, like “mobile health”, “health tracking”, and even “Fitbit”.
As adoption for health tracking tools continues to grow, professionals across the industry are holding their breath in anticipation of where mobile health is going and how (and if) it will ever interface with traditional healthcare systems.
It’s for these reasons that WebMD performed a survey trying to gain better insight into how both practitioners and patients viewed the role of mobile health in the practitioner-patient relationship.
The results of their 2,600-person study, announced at the HIMSS 2016 conference, highlighted encouraging adoption from practitioners (over 30% already using apps and devices with patients), with a majority of those professionals in agreement over the primary benefit: helping individuals stay motivated and follow a treatment plan.
Of course you want to see someone achieve their health goals, but if you are looking for an ROI to using these tools, here are a couple of the main reasons professionals are wanting to leverage mobile health.
1. Better manage a growing a population (i.e. how can I manage more people and increase revenue potential?)
To further illustrate this point, we met a practitioner recently who was working in a private medical practice and was tasked with running the lifestyle programs of the practice.
As the business grew he began struggling to stay on top of his almost 150 patients and realized that health tracking tools were the best way he knew of to gain insight into the population to understand who really needed his time.
He started selling Fitbits out of the practice providing him with a snapshot of how his patients were performing in between visits. This allowed him to increase his care capabilities resulting in almost 15% growth of the practice and increased revenues.
2. Increase the perceived value of their offerings to attract more customers or raise prices
More practices and businesses are launching lifestyle or wellness offerings because it’s a way in which to get people on a recurring payment plan. Differentiation is important to stand out from other offerings and providing a tech-enabled program can be just the thing to stand out. We’ve even seen practitioners use health tracking to launch programs as lead generation magnets to their practice.
One of our partners in Maine launched a 6-month, lifestyle management program providing basic coaching-type services through a combination of monthly, face-too-face visits as well as a host of digital components like e-newsletters and health tracking. Rather than simply offer this to his patients who were already paying him a monthly fee he decided to offer this program to non-members as well for a monthly fee of $79.
The program has been a big hit opening a new revenue stream for the practice as well as helping drive more people to become full-time patients of the practice.
As you can probably tell, the 30% WebMD identified as the ones adopting mobile health have been trail blazers and through trial and error have found creative methods in which to unlock the potential that comes with being a tech-enabled practitioner.
But what about the remaining 70% or so who haven’t jumped on the bandwagon? What’s the trick in leveraging and incorporating these platforms into your care model?
Through the survey, WebMD shared some of the key hurdles practitioners mentioned as being deterrents from leveraging health tracking technologies.
- Too difficult to use
- Unsure what to do with the data
Few would say that the transition to embracing health tracking within their practice or business was easy, so let’s explore the hurdles WebMD identified and walk through how you can overcome them and set yourself up for success.
You’ve probably seen commercials for some of the market leading health tracking devices which mostly range in price from $100-350. It’s unrealistic to expect all your patients or clients to be able to afford such devices, so luckily there are plenty of free or inexpensive alternatives.
For instance, the Fitbit app even has a free step tracking option which allows you to use your phone’s hardware to track activity rather than a wrist-worn device. This makes getting into heath tracking both seamless and cost effective.
With that said, we are seeing time and time again the potential that comes with selling wearables directly to patients or clients. This not only provides you with an enhanced method to monitor lifestyle habits, but also opens the door to a new revenue stream from the devices themselves.
Difficult to Use
This is one of the factors plaguing most of the industry. It’s no surprise that consumer tracking tools weren’t initially designed for practitioner use, but this is the direction healthcare is going.
Being able to access and use the data collected from these tools can strengthen the patient or client relationship helping extend the connection outside the practice, as well as provide you with the foundation for increasing growth. The key is finding a solution that makes using this data more manageable.
Some of the top solutions for using mobile health data:
Nudge Coach – we sync with almost 100 health tracking apps and devices, and make managing touchpoints a breeze.
Fruit Street – Telehealth software for medical professionals
Twine Health – Telehealth and collborative care platform for health and medical professionals
What to do with the Data?
This depends heavily on what type of practitioner you are, what type of practice or business, and your specific offerings. But keep in mind that some of the platforms mentioned above are even HIPAA-compliant making it easier to integrate into more clinical settings.
At a high level there are a couple core value propositions that resonate with a majority of practitioners we've met in the space.
This may seem obvious but the data generated from your patient or client can help you as you try and better understand the needs of your “customer” and why they may be struggling to achieve their goals. Walking through the data together adds a new layer to the narrative whereby people will associate your recommendations with the ongoing user experience of their health tracking device.
Secondly, being able to tap into changes in lifestyle data can prove the efficacy of your programs AND justify your pricing, regardless of whether you already have a premium offering or are looking for a reason to raise prices.
Imagine being able to present hard data on your offering to prospects – think it would make a difference? YOU BET!
Mobile health has opened the door to a new generation of remote monitoring built on the ideas of stronger personal connections and data availability, all resulting in premium value propositions for patients and clients.
The key is to find the appropriate tools for your business that makes it easier for you leverage the information collected enabling you to provide and even greater service.