Healthy Startups founder, Jason Berek-Lewis outlines 5 reasons why your consumer health app will fail to change behavior
Your consumer healthcare app exists for 1 reason only - to change behavior. If you have created your app to do something else you have already failed. Here are 5 other reasons why your health app will fail:
What is the genuine problem your app solves? What is the real value offered by a calorie counter, an exercise tracker or a muscle toning guide?
You might be trying to make it easier for lawn bowls enthusiasts to track their performance, but is there really a need for an app to do that? Why are you creating another tracking app? We already have apps that log how much you eat, how far you run, how often you cycle – we don’t need another one.
Perhaps your app helps patients to achieve rock hard abs in only 30 days. That’s great for when they head to muscle beach, but really – there are bigger health fish to fry.
You’ve seen these in the App Store or Google Play – one stop guides to men’s health, looking after your baby or diet shopping lists… These types of apps take to much of a ‘catch all’ approach to health and end up offering no real value. I once reviewed a men’s health app developed by a hospital: the app itself was nicely designed with good intentions, but it tried to cover too many areas of men’s health leading to vague content with no real calls to action, even around serious symptoms. With no clear focus the app offered minimum value. Avoid this at all costs.
Many apps, not only health apps, generate streams of data – but what does it all mean? Sorry to keep picking on food apps, but a calorie counter or a prompt thay says my diet only contains 32 percent of my recommended daily intake of calcium isn’t really of any value to me. How can I action this? Your food app needs to tell me what steps I need to take to remedy the lack of calcium in my diet. I realise it’s difficult for an app to provide specific information for each user, but then why provide this data in the first place? This type of data leads to confusion and users wondering why they ever downloaded your app in the first place.
With the proliferation of mobile devices, our constant connections to the internet and our inability to ‘turn off’ – things are already too complicated. If your app isn’t straight forward or you haven’t spent enough time testing the UI with potential users you might find that your users find it all too much. Go for big clear buttons to hit, clean and simple displays of data, straight forward options for sharing data or images. Keep it simple, stupid works.
Cloning can be a quicker, surer path to startup success (see Attack of the health startup clones here: http://healthystartups.com/foundersblog/2012/6/10/attack-of-the-healthcare-startup-clones.html) which means that your idea might be replicated by another developer or, worse, improved on by another developer who offers a similar app with more features for a lower price. Take a look at the app stores and see how many tracking apps there are (for example). If your app is too easy to clone, or if there are already similar offerings, how are you going to stand out? How will you avoid vanishing into obscurity?
Sorry to write such a pessimistic app. Think of it this way: somebody is already doing it wrong. Let them make the mistakes. Make sure you learn from them. Go out and get it right and change health for the better!
Jason Berek-Lewis blogs regularly on his site, Healthy Startups, that chronicles the the disruption of healthcare through new technologies and social media where this article first appeared. Jason can be found on Twitter at @HealthyStartups
Featured image credit: http://images.mobiledia.com