Hippocrates once said: “Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.” And as smartphone and tablet technology evolves and puts knowledge literally into the hands of consumers, Hippocrates’ concept of “opportunity” may be a whole lot closer. And this is good news for marketers.
A Marketer’s Playground
In 2008, the number of smartphone subscribers was 15 million. That number almost doubled in 2009, reaching 26 million, and is expected to grow to roughly 142 million by the end of this year, according to experts.
A recent report by research2guidance – a research and consulting company that specializes in the mobile market– predicts that by 2015 an estimated 1.4 billion people will use smartphones and that one out of three people with a smartphone will have a health-related app on their phone. That’s roughly 500 million people, folks! But the buck doesn’t stop there. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report claims that 41 percent of 2,000 consumers surveyed said that they would “prefer to have more of their care delivered via a mobile device.”
According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, more than 17,000 smartphone apps have been filed under healthcare and fitness categories since September. This is a clear indication that healthcare providers and consumers are embracing smartphone apps as a means to improving healthcare. The way I see it, pretty soon it just won’t be calorie counters and workout trackers driving consumer mobile app behavior.
Keys to a Winning App
I believe that mobile apps present marketers with a great opportunity to develop a different kind of consumer experience that is much needed in the healthcare industry. The key to a winning app is simple: make your app interactive and use it as a portal to push information, reminders and resources to the customer, so that it becomes a “must-have” tool in their life.
Right now, the best kinds of apps are the most specific apps. Something to remind a person to take a pill is more helpful to more people than an app to track the workouts that might only appeal to a fitness buff. A good example of an organization that has hit the jackpot is WebMD. The WebMD app has been downloaded four million times since it was launched. Why is it so popular? Because WebMD gave patients exactly what they wanted: easy-to-use, patient-centric tools that make managing their health easier. This app is loaded with helpful features like the Symptom Checker, in which users can select a part of the body that is troubling them, choose their symptoms and learn about potential conditions or issues.
As you have probably guessed, the opportunities in mobile technology are endless. Consumers want more and this is where marketers can really make a difference. The healthcare industry, which has never been at the vanguard of marketing initiatives, may be best positioned to leverage one of the most important tools to build and cultivate consumer relationships.