mHealth apps, User Research and Usability Testing
mHealth apps have made their way into everyday health care management. Mobile health technology-or mHealth- can be described as the use of smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices to deliver health care and preventive health services.
Unfortunately, studies show an overwhelming percentage of patients are not using the apps that hospitals provide. This would seem to point to a misunderstanding of end users (patients) by hospitals and UX designers. Understanding your end users is always critical to a successful product, but even more so in the healthcare field. Most patients have had positive experiences with mobile apps in other industries and expect the same level of satisfaction in mobile healthcare applications. Thorough user research and usability testing goes a long way to eliminating the issues keeping patients from using these apps, and boosting patient engagement.
mHealth will become critical to the success of every hospital in the age of smartphones and tablets. It allows for patient care and monitoring over large distances where hospitals and clinics are scarce. Further, mHealth apps can aid greatly in patient-physician communication. Most importantly, mHealth apps provide an avenue for individualizing the patient experience and allows them to feel more empowered to help manage their own health care. But first and foremost, hospitals and UI designers must truly understand the end users.