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  • Writer's pictureAri Mostov

Making Digital Health Stick

Updated: Oct 23, 2020

Consumer digital health products have utterly failed to reach the same level of user engagement that we see in social media, gaming and entertainment.

Let’s look at today’s most popular digital products:

While there’s been an increase in demand for digital health products and services during the COVID-19 lockdown, consumer facing digital health companies struggle to attract and retain users, especially as the market becomes more saturated.

How can consumer digital health companies create products that users actually want to use, over and over again?

It's time to stop thinking like Steve Jobs and start creating like Steven Spielberg.

In today's content obsessed world, consumer digital health companies continue to ignore what consumers really want:

We want character driven narratives, not shiny, new wearables.

We want user generated content, not another digital health service with “better” UX/UI.

We want socially active platforms, not another mobile health app with a novel gamification feature.

But more than anything, we want a new narrative for the healthcare experience.

And right now, consumer digital health has the perfect opportunity to co-create with users a new healthcare narrative for the mobile-first generation. A new health narrative that empowers users, activates their agency and reframes health as a community driven experience.

I’m reminded of the recent success of TikTok’s mental health content. TikTok provides a platform for user generated videos that are simultaneously personal and communal. Anyone struggling with their own mental wellbeing can find personal anecdotes, useful tips and resources in an easy to digest format by simply searching #MentalHealthAwareness. There, mental health advocates share their experiences and learning with their viewers, providing users with opportunities to take their first steps on their personal mental health journey. By creating their own content, TikTok allows individuals to reclaim their autonomy, re-center themselves as the protagonists of their health journey and re-establish the universal experience of being human.

As of June 11th, with a quick glance at my TikTok discovery page, there are 1.4 billion views of the #mentalhealthawareness hashtag.

Can you imagine the same consumer engagement for digital health products that manage diabetes or improve medication adherence?

In fact, with a quick search for #diabetes, I found over a half a billion views of user generated diabetes related content on TikTok.

To say TikTok is doing something right, is an understatement.

Moving Forward

As digital health companies develop their user engagement strategies for a crowded market, it’s time they re-evaluate their user experiences and product designs to see how they can best serve consumers that crave autonomy, self-expression and content.

Only then will digital health care companies succeed in attracting and retaining users.

Only then will we be able to see the full potential of consumer digital health.

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