Dog with Wearable ImageWearables like the Apple Watch have about as much power over your behavior as you allow them. If you have ever tried mobile healthcare apps, you might continue to ignore alerts, disable notifications, or just ditch the app altogether – it’s all based on personal choice.

A recent study from Duke University supports this logic, revealing that two groups that were encouraged to use mobile apps actually didn’t lose more weight over time as opposed to another group that received sheets of paper with weight loss tips.

Mobile apps related to lifestyle changes can only encourage behaviors, so a poorly designed app with good intentions won’t make patients download an app, much less use it.  Here’s what to consider when thinking about your mobile healthcare strategy:

A Pavlovian Approach to mHealth?

Health apps used with or without wearables have the power to elicit a certain response – almost similar to the Pavlovian dog. Craig Grannel, a contributor at, had this to say:

“When my wife started referring to my Apple Watch as Pavlov’s Watch, I realised it had clearly impacted my life. The thing would ding and I would dutifully respond, checking out whatever notification was being brought to my attention. At ten minutes to the hour, I’d stand up and amble about as my wrist-based master commanded me to stop being a lazy git, sitting on my backside all day.”

Simply adding a bunch of features to get patients off the couch isn’t enough to encourage prolonged use.  Below are three strategies for success in the mobile healthcare market:

  1.  Create a Branded App

    The category of fitness apps has been the fastest growing category over the past several years, with somewhere around
    100,000 fitness apps currently on the market, according to Research2Guidance, a research firm specializing in the mobile market.  There are so many unregulated fitness apps to choose from – why not offer a branded mobile app that users can trust?  Branded apps help separate your app from the countless others that get downloaded and deleted after one use.

  2. Know Your Target Audience

    For healthcare providers, meeting specific demands of different patient demographics is key to efficient mHealth programs. Create a specialized mobile app for your specific target audience – whether it’s rehab patients, pregnant/postpartum mothers, or senior citizens.  It’s also a good idea to launch a quick survey before building to determine what patients really want in a mobile tool.

  3. Promote, Promote, Promote

    Most apps will fail to get adopted without some type of promotion. Use your knowledge of your patient demographics to optimize your app for search engines. Promote it on your website and social media channels. Once they download, don’t forget to engage your users with push messages and relevant streaming content.

The Future Mobile Health

As new technology emerges, mobile healthcare apps may be a way to encourage positive behaviors and offer perceived wellness benefits, rather than be a way to solve every problem for everybody that simply downloads an app. Some studies show that perceived benefits or self-compliments can lead to positive outcomes like weight loss, and will be interesting to examine as more data is collected over time in mHealth.

With MobileSmith, you can get started today creating awesome mobile apps in health and wellness without any development experience necessary.  Enterprises from around the country are using MobileSmith to build native mobile applications for a variety of use cases, so why not you?

To learn more about how mobile healthcare is evolving, and what to expect in 2016, download our free eBook:


eBook:  Apps and Wearables in Healthcare – What Works?