mHealth, or “mobile health”, refers to healthcare services, platforms and companies that users primarily access through smartphones. It can include telehealth—appointments delivered via phone—but it’s much broader than that.
Right now, patients are driving more consumerization than seen before in the healthcare industry, gaining more control over their treatment. They’re turning to mHealth as the center of the continuum of care.
Yet, traditional healthcare organizations (HCOs) are stuck when using data, conducting optimization, and applying many of the marketing principles adopted by digital-first businesses.
To stay relevant, HCOs need to calibrate their mHealth marketing to improve the experience of providers, payers, and patients. That means using the right tools to leverage their user data while remaining HIPAA-compliant.
Below, you'll find seven marketing strategies for growth specifically chosen for HCOs with mHealth platforms or apps.
You can learn more about how other HCOs are using these strategies to improve patient experience on their platforms in our report on CX in the healthcare industry by Forrester.
1 Make data-driven marketing decisions with experimentation
A considerable part of an mHealth ecosystem is in the "forever beta" stage. From customer-facing marketing initiatives to product development (like new feature or service releases), users are co-creators and co-developers of their experiences and the solution.
This consumer-business partnership becomes possible with experimentation. In the mHealth marketing context, experimentation offers risk-free ways to test different styles of messaging and experiences so that only the ones that work the best get rolled out for all.
Experiments fit organically in the growth frameworks of mHealth platforms. They empower better data-backed marketing decision-making across the entire digital health lifecycle:
- Acquisition: Experiments on pre-sign-up touches like landing pages.
- Activation: Experiments on sign-up/pricing pages.
- Retention: Experiments around onboarding and essential post-sign-up communications.
- Revenue: Experiments on upselling/cross-selling offers.
- Referrals: Experiments around different incentives and means for referring.
Experiments like A/B tests and personalizations help validate effective messaging and improve bottom-funnel metrics (like revenue).
Many people assume that stringent regulations (like HIPPA) remain a significant barrier to developing a culture of experimentation, worrying that data that powers experiments can quickly become a liability.
However, with the right experimentation solution, you can stay compliant. And you can proactively work to build the trust you need to deliver better experiences. (More on this below.)
2 Deliver personalized experiences at scale
McKinsey estimates that personalization at scale can create value worth $100 to 150 billion dollars for healthcare players. For pharma and medical product businesses, it's another 100 billion dollars in value generated via more valued products and services, revenue growth, cost savings, and consumer surplus.
This impact of personalization is understandable given that health is personal. It's one-to-one even for an mHealth platform with a million users. That's why the best mHealth marketing experiences are guided by consumers' behaviours, goals, and motivations. Of course, a patient's personal care and wellness history is core to it too.
Again, implementing personalizations comes with the same challenges as experimentation. But just as with experimentation, the right personalization engine makes all the difference. And by using consent-based marketing, you can get customers on board too.
3 Tap into your partner network for co-marketing opportunities
An mHealth ecosystem is often home to many businesses from different connected sectors that co-work to deliver care. The customer experience is jointly owned.
A provider (physician) takes care of one part while the payer (an insurance company) delivers the coverage. You can have a preferred internet network or a select few data partners. Then there's a cloud provider and a bunch of tech partners.
All these partnerships are great co-marketing opportunities and promise good reach. Of all these, the one with doctors can prove the most beneficial for promoting your mHealth platform, because doctors remain the most trusted health player. About 55% of patients feel encouraged to be more proactive about managing their health when their “trusted healthcare professionals” push for it. And 11% of them actually get recommendations for digital health management tools from their regular healthcare provider.
Partnering with doctors and showing them the value you deliver naturally makes your mHealth platform more "prescribable." With doctors increasingly prescribing mHealth solutions—the percentage of app-recommending doctors increased from 15% to 40% in three years—they're a valuable growth channel. Building a meaningful doctor outreach program can help you tap it.
4 Make transparency part of your brand
Accenture's Digital Health Technology Vision 2020 shares that 70% of healthcare consumers say they're "concerned about data privacy and commercial tracking associated with [their] online activities, behaviours, location and interests."
Now, when you comply with the applicable laws, you are already offering your users the security they're guaranteed. But it would be best if you communicated it too. That's how you transform this objection into a marketing advantage.
Even the most-trusting digital healthcare consumers look for answers to a few questions, including:
- What data are you collecting?
- How are you going to use it?
- Where is your customer data stored?
- Whom do you share it with?
- What laws do you comply with?
So keep dedicated marketing bandwidth to work on the transparency aspect. Create content that fields these questions.
Accenture recommends creating "a granular profile and preferences page where users can select what they are willing to share or not, and decide how much tailoring they want."
These profiles and pages help them understand their own preferences and the data they willingly share with you to co-create their experiences with your mHealth platform.
5 Convert trust into a growth factor
In the mHealth sector, trust is intellectual property. Even the most honest and genuine marketing can fail if users have low trust in a brand. In its The Health Experience Reimagined paper, Accenture explains how the lack of trust reflects in the consumers' perception:
You: Provide an array of options, services, and tools.
Consumers: You're selling me something; you've got ulterior financial motives.
You: Set up data interoperability and care team sharing.
Consumers: You're using my data and personal info against me.
You: Communicate your commitment to privacy, patient bill of rights, etc.
Consumers: You don't know what you're talking about.
Clearly, despite healthcare being one of the most trusted industries (with 44% of users trusting it; for context, 17% trust tech companies), trust issues remain a concern for businesses.
And that's why organizations need to work on it proactively in their mHealth marketing.
Giving your data officer a permanent seat on the marketing team is one way to go about this. To promote trust, again, you need to communicate with your consumers. Education can help resolve their concerns around trust and get you more conversions and retention.
Capgemini offers an 8-point checklist to ensure that all checks and balances are in place for all stakeholders as far as securing trust in such an ecosystem is concerned:
- Deploying "trust referees"
- Creating competing trust and distrust teams to help analyze and build trust
- Working on crucial trust issues with regulators
6 Leverage privacy as a marketing force multiplier
To win your share of the mHealth market, you need to promote yourself as a privacy-first solution because digital healthcare consumers—while being open to sharing data—don't accept compromises on their health data.
Consumers like it when businesses push for privacy by:
- Not asking for too much personal information.
- Promoting privacy for their products.
- Publicizing their customer-privacy interest.
So your mHealth marketing needs to speak to all of these.
Another aspect of digital healthcare privacy is securing your solution, as a single breach can destroy what you build. It's no wonder that consumers value the following traits highly in businesses they see as privacy-first:
- Reacting quickly to hacks and breaches.
- Proactively reporting a hack or breach.
- Sharing their approach to protecting data.
Wrapping up your mHealth marketing strategy…
Analysts predict the mHealth sector will hit the USD 189 billion mark in 2025.
Now is a good time for the key stakeholders to prioritize it and invest in making it a more mainstream part of their care business.
Besides upgrading your marketing for the mHealth medium, you also need to establish a synergy between your marketers and technologists. This partnership holds the key to delivering winning mHealth marketing.