Creating mHealth Apps That Do Something for You

There was a great LinkedIn discussion happening around the Fitness Tracker Fallout post that I did previously. One of the comments by Dean Tucker, Founder & CEO at MyNightCare, LLC, provided some really interesting insights into the mHealth app market:

The focus of the current crop of devices and apps requires one to “do” something, engage in a social competition, analyze our own data, and follow advice from someone or something we don’t know or trust.

The secret to successful apps and their utilization will be revealed when the apps and tracking devices the apps rely upon provide the answer to the question, “what does this do for me”, rather than telling me, “here is what you need to do.” What I want is the ability is to have a life monitoring ecosystem, with the sensors and devices we already have in our lives, complemented by new passive sensors, and the active tracking devices we choose to use, when we want or need them. That is where Apple, Google, Samsung, and all of other aggregators, will play the lead role. The supporting specialty apps will be there for when I want to drill down, or focus on a particular activity or health related issue.

What a powerful concept to consider. Most apps could really benefit from thinking about what the mHealth app can do for the user as opposed to what the user needs to do for the app. That’s not to say that the user shouldn’t have any involvement in doing something with the app. However, it takes a very specific situation and motivation for a user to be willing to do the work before receiving the reward.

Dean is right that we’ll see an amazing shift in fitness tracking once the devices collect the data automatically with no intervention from the user. We’re heading that direction and those that master that kind of health tracking are going to be the big winners.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com, 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, EXPO.health, 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.

1 Comment

  • The passive element is a big factor, as you’ve touched on in previous posts too.

    A personal example: I’ve used both Noom Walk and Endomondo previously to capture exercise data on my Android phone. Noom Walk runs quietly in the background and dutifully captures all of my steps. Endomondo, which I used to capture other activities like running, required me to start and stop with each exercise activity.

    After a few months, I decided to settle for the simpler health picture that Noom Walk was providing because it required less intervention on my part. Since it was capturing my running steps in addition to my regular walking steps, I decided to focus on that as a measurable fitness goal.

    I’m looking forward to the day when wearable sensors will be smart enough to infer which activity we’re doing and for how long. Imagine an accurate and regular physical activity report in your e-mail inbox (currently, our cars do a better job of self-tracking). The next question, of course, is whether we’ll do anything with the data to change our behaviors. That’s a whole separate topic.

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