Focus on the Problem, Not the Solution

I’ve seen a regular thing happening in the mobile health space. This is particularly true when it comes to mobile health apps. A developer sits down and thinks, I bet I could make an app that can do XYZ. So, they sit down and develop the app and push it out to the app store. Yet, for some reason no one downloads and uses the app.

There are a couple reasons why this happens over and over again. First, no app markets itself. Seriously, there’s no such thing as an overnight success. It takes someone, and often a group of people, passionately marketing something everywhere they can find for an app to be successful. After an extraordinary effort, then you might start seeing those initial efforts grow into something that gets the benefit of unprovoked growth.

It’s important to realize though, that this second stage of the growth cycle will never happen if your product doesn’t actually solve someone’s problem. I’ve seen this over and over again. Someone launches an app which is a cool solution, but then after they put in the extraordinary effort to get the first users they realize that their solution doesn’t actually solve any problem.

Let me be clear that every solution solves a problem. The core question is whether anyone has the problem it solves.

For example, I’ve seen a slew of applications that do meal tracking. There are some really amazing solutions out there that track what you’ve eaten. How they handle portion sizes, calculate calories, and easily collect the information is beautiful. The question is, does someone have a problem tracking what they’re eating? No. The problem people have is trying to lose weight. Meal tracking is one thing that can assist you in that goal, but just tracking your meals doesn’t make you lose weight. If it did, those apps would have extraordinary uptake.
Note: I guess you could say some diabetics have a problem tracking what they’ve eaten, but most do that on paper and do ok. Plus, diabetics are a small subset of the larger population.

A mobile health application that solves a problem people care about will do really well. Unfortunately, far too many of them are so focused on the solution that they have to invent the problems they solve. This is amazing since healthcare has so many real problems. We don’t need people inventing problems to solve.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.