How to Design Mobile-Friendly Digital Healthcare Experiences

How long ago did you last put down your cell phone? For about half of you — the ones reading this on a mobile device — that’s a trick question. You’re holding it right now! No surprise there. Across the internet, mobile traffic share has hovered right above fifty percent since 2017. Which means that a significant percentage of your healthcare organization’s customers are interacting with your brand on their mobile devices. And that percentage will only increase moving forward. When it comes to creating user-friendly digital health experiences, multi-platform is the name of the game.

So why is it that mobile healthcare experiences are so often treated as an afterthought?

Now, healthcare organizations don’t intentionally shortchange their mobile experiences. If anything, they operate from the assumption that “more is more.” That is, they presume that healthcare app development means replicating all the features and functionalities of their desktop experience. Why not give mobile users the same buffet of options? Unfortunately, the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach simply doesn’t reflect the way users actually interact with mobile healthcare web experiences and mHealth apps.

Your mobile healthcare experience shouldn’t just be a miniature version of your desktop offerings. It should be a carefully curated experience that acknowledges user preferences and supports your customers’ most pressing on-the-go needs.

Different Devices, Different Needs: Why You Should Customize Your Digital Experience for a Mobile Context

Your customers interact differently with your digital experiences depending on whether they are using a desktop or mobile device. In fact, their mindset, environment, and needs probably dictate which device they choose to use in the first place.

It makes intuitive sense that users would choose their desktop devices for more involved activities, such as reviewing claims. Laptops and computers make it much easier to copy and paste information, fill out long forms, and toggle between multiple screens — actions that are often required to complete complex workflows.

Conversely, users rely on mobile devices when they want quick information — or are simply away from their desks. According to HealthSparq, half of healthcare users who access their payer’s mHealth app do so on their way to the doctor’s office or ER. In that context, users most commonly seek time-sensitive information, such as a list of in-network providers or covered services.

A HealthX study conducted by Hanover Research puts a finer point on these trends. They found that:

  • Of the respondents who use both desktop and mobile to interact with their healthcare payers, most reported using mobile devices to accomplish quicker tasks. Desktops were used for more time-consuming or complex tasks.
  • The most common tasks performed on mobile devices include paying premiums (59 percent) and looking up covered services (45 percent).
  • The top mobile feature consumers wish they could have is the ability to find the cost of a service or procedure. This was followed by finding a doctor, reviewing claims, looking up covered services and paying premiums.

Your mobile digital experience should prioritize the tasks your users really want and need in a mobile context. That’s your signal. Everything else is just noise.

Your Mobile Healthcare Experience Can Drive (or Undermine) Brand Loyalty

If you want to promote brand loyalty and grow your market share, you can’t afford to put your mobile digital experience on the back burner. After all, your customers expect the same level of usability they already get elsewhere on the web, from banking apps to Amazon and beyond.

If your mobile web experience or mHealth app is ungainly, unintuitive, or crowded with unnecessary features, it will almost certainly undermine your brand. On the other hand, if you manage to design a best-in-class mobile experience, you can put your healthcare brand ahead of the pack.

Mobile experiences represent an even bigger opportunity to drive up brand loyalty when you consider the current emphasis on the care continuum. The care continuum is a trendy term that describes the level of connectedness between each of the various touchpoints in a patient’s healthcare journey, including:

  • Looking up in-network providers
  • Making an appointment
  • Receiving treatment
  • Receiving an explanation of benefit (EOB)
  • Paying a bill
  • Checking the status of a claim

Moving forward, mobile is sure to play a major role in the care continuum. The time is ripe to invest in your mobile experience with an eye to seamlessly supporting your customers throughout their journey.

How to Craft a Mobile-Optimized Digital Healthcare Experience

Creating a truly customized digital experience for your mobile users means much more than simply making your desktop content responsive. You’ll need to simplify and streamline your offerings with a focus on key transactional features. Moreover, you’ll want to play to the strengths of the mobile operating system (for example, by utilizing the camera or making sure phone numbers appear as actionable links).

Ready to get started? Begin by asking yourself the following questions.

  • How do your customers use your current mobile experience today, if it exists? What analytics are available?
  • What are the key tasks your users are trying to accomplish on mobile? How do they differ from the activities they prioritize on desktop?
  • What unmet needs do your mobile users still have? Have you conducted surveys or focus groups to find out?
  • What insights can you glean from your existing customer feedback? Think app ratings and reviews, blogs, forums, social media, and so on.
  • How does mobile fit into your overall customer journey? Are there multiple touch points to consider? Do you have the functionality to support those user needs?
  • Which areas, interfaces, or activities present the most friction for your mobile users? How can you prioritize these opportunities by leveraging quick wins and longer term initiatives?
  • What technology approach best supports the purpose of your app? Do you need to implement APIs to pull in data?
  • How distinct should your mHealth app be as compared with your mobile web experience? How can you differentiate these two experiences while still staying on brand?
  • How might a user go from one experience to the next in a multi-platform environment? You might envision a happy path, but there’s no controlling how a user may choose to use your experience. Are there any gaps, endless loops, or undesirable states that a user might find themselves stuck in?
  • Does it make sense to split your online offerings into multiple apps? The more simple and targeted an individual app is, the more engagement it will harness.

Your ability to design a successful mobile healthcare experience starts with questions like these. The answers will guide you toward the right mobile digital solution for your customers — and your brand.

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