Digital health tools have huge potential to help people learn about and improve their health, but marketers need to step up, a specialist says, because in many cases there’s an experience gap between these tools and their users.

Writing in the current issue of Admap (topic: digital strategy in healthcare marketing), Oliver Childs, managing director of UK-based health and medical communications agency Ark Comms cites a US National Quality Health Website Survey which found that less than half (42%) of the 100 top-ranked health websites met quality criteria in terms of design, organization and content.

“Clearly, there is more to do to ensure patients are appropriately supported by digital health tools,” he observes. 

Such tools include health websites, apps and interactive online tools. In his article, A data-driven and user-centred approach for health communication in the digital age, Childs sets out six approaches that can help ensure a digital health communications project is successful – and inclusive for all.

Begin with the use case, he advises. “Be specific about exactly what you are trying to achieve and for whom.”

To take just one example: when looking at adherence, what part of this particular puzzle are you trying to fix or improve, Childs asks? 

“The initial doctor–patient interaction at point of prescription? The fact that many prescriptions aren’t even picked up at the pharmacy? The complexity of polypharmacy (taking multiple medications concurrently) for some patients? The tendency for people to simply forget to take their medicines? The fear of side effects? The list goes on …”

The answer, he suggests, is likely to depend on the therapy area and defining the specific user type and user problem. “Only then should the question be asked if digital is even part of the solution.”

And remember, he adds, that ‘digital’ can be many things – not just apps and websites. Simple text messages have been shown to improve treatment adherence in many different chronic diseases such as diabetes and asthma.

Other approaches include involving the patients in the design process, using a ‘how might we’ framework and keeping things simple. It’s important to minimise the cognitive effort for everyone, he says, both digital natives and digital immigrants.

The ten articles in January 2020’s Admap examine how digital is fuelling innovation in the health and wellness sector globally, from the emergence of new sub-categories like connected fitness, to AI-fuelled diagnosis. In addition to the articles, WARC subscribers can access a deck summarising the expertise and insights from all our contributors.

Subscribers can also register here for a WARC webinar on Thursday 16th January, presented by Michael Leis, Chief Content Strategy Officer at Publicis Health. In Creating Healthcare Content that Matters, he will discuss the repeatable, strategic guides that can be built to clarify decision-making and drive the world’s largest, most engaged therapeutic-area audiences. 

Sourced from WARC