Creating Motivation for Users is How Healthcare Apps Can Succeed
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, access to vital healthcare services has been limited, leaving people searching for ways to manage their health and wellbeing without frequent input from a qualified practitioner. Without accountability and given the repercussions of not having treatment plans, many patients and people have found it challenging to maintain their dedication to their health and to stay motivated.
Healthcare mobile apps go some way to bridging the gap, giving people the knowledge and guidance they need to manage some of their healthcare needs. But often, information isn’t enough. As humans, many of us need external motivation to put our all into something. We need to see some kind of reward for our efforts or something to spur us on to achieve our goals – and this is equally true of maintaining our wellbeing.
Recently, many healthcare app development projects have started to harness the power of gamification to keep users motivated and ensure they frequently visit their apps to complete their healthcare activities. Gamification in healthcare isn’t a new concept. However, it is a recent introduction to personal healthcare apps. There is a debate to be had whether gamification is applicable to every type of healthcare issue, particularly those who are using mental health apps. However, when done correctly, it has the power to transform people's lives, build good habits, and keep people healthy.
Difficulties Healthcare Apps Face
Prior to the pandemic, healthcare mobile apps had hit a plateau in downloads and user activity, causing the industry to rethink its approach to user retention, motivation, and engagement. In addition, the number of people using wearable fitness tech was also in decline.
However, with a few simple design changes and the introduction of gamification and social sharing, apps like Strava have been able to capture their audience, keep them on board, and grow their market share substantially.
How Does Gamification In Healthcare Work?
Gamification brings the psychology of gaming into healthcare. Essentially, gamified healthcare apps incentivize users to interact with their apps. For example, if a diabetes patient uploads their blood sugar levels every day for a week, they receive a badge that they can display on their profile. Alternatively, you could offer premium paid-for content for free as an incentive for completing a specific course.
As mentioned, gamification isn’t new in healthcare. Think of 12 Step Support meetings and recovering addicts – they receive a chip or token of some kind that recognizes their efforts of being sober for a specified amount of time. It’s possible that 12 Step Support organizations would not be as successful without this recognition of their members’ hard work to remain healthy and their hard-earned progress.
Personal Goals Encouraging Progress
One gamification method focuses on setting personal goals and milestones that encourage accountability, progress, focus, and keeping people on track. Many people aren’t interested in the social element that comes with many gamification apps. In fact, they much prefer to do it privately and compete against themselves. Calorie counting and exercise logging apps such as MyFitnessPal are great examples of this. Users are encouraged to set targets for their calorie intake and weight loss. In addition, they’re encouraged to update their journal daily with push notifications.
Social Gamification and Competitiveness
People enjoy competing, they like to win, and they love to show their trophies off in front of others. Introducing a competitive edge and social side to personal healthcare apps gives users additional reasons to stick to their health and wellness schedule, frequently engage with the app, and use it in a meaningful manner. By creating a public space for people to share their progress, not only are you building a supportive community, but you’re also driving people to improve by developing an ethos of accountability. While there are no tangible rewards, the prize comes in the form of showing off progress to peers, receiving support from like-minded people, and feeling like a winner in one’s community.
Rewards for Positive Behavior
Is your app best utilized on a daily basis? If so, you could encourage users to keep coming back by rewarding them for daily interaction. However, healthcare app providers need to ensure the rewards they offer are for positive behavior, something that actually benefits the user, rather than for merely opening the app. By rewarding this positive behavior, users have the platform to subconsciously build incredibly healthy habits that, even when the rewards are removed, they will continue to engage in.
While healthcare apps are designed to benefit users, they’re actually in direct competition with all other apps on people's phones. Adopting methods that motivate users to engage with them is crucial to their long-term success. Many people believe they lead busy lives, their time is valuable, and they want something in return for making the effort to engage with your app. Gamification is a way of inspiring and motivating users to commit to using an app on a regular basis, to complete important tasks, and to receive rewards for their efforts.
While questions remain over the validity of using gamification in certain areas of healthcare, if your motives are ethical and you aren't exploiting users for monetary gain, you’re on the track to success. If you have a healthcare app development idea and want to discuss how you can introduce gamification and inspire users to engage, we’d love to hear from you.