Bringing together patients' perspectives on eHealth and mHealth

Do Patient Groups Always Need App Stores For Their Apps?

Some of the biggest brands like Netflix, Spotify and Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite, appear at various stages of divorce from app stores – setting up ways to download their apps directly. They have a clear motivation, with Apple and Google app stores cited as taking 15-30% commission for purchases and subscriptions.

But what does this mean for apps developed by patient groups?

WHY STAY?

The app stores are very dominant, on our devices, and generally well-trusted. Although things can go wrong, mostly consumers know that processes are in place to ensure that when they download an app from an app store, it’s free from malware and viruses. 

Any privacy risks, in theory, will depend on the user knowing when not to opt in or out from specific clauses in the terms and conditions of the app. 

Also, the heavy lifting of the transaction is handled by the app stores. Moreover, unless the app is paid-for, or has in-app purchases, the patient group developer should mostly avoid the high commission charges.

WHY GO?

It’s tough for a patient to browse the app stores to find your group’s app, unless they already know what your app is called, which countries’ app store it is available in, who you are, and so on. Chances are, in many cases they may have gone to your own site first to link to the store to download it.

The templates for app stores can feel pretty limiting. Most of the health app profiles on app stores we review are pretty poor – a few vague paragraphs and random screenshots. The patient is still left with little idea of what the apps mean to them and find it hard to compare and choose between apps.

GOING IT ALONE 

Occasionally, we come across a patient group that has decided to offer their app direct, for example through their website. 

In the case of the US not-for-profit organisation for people affected by mitochondrial disease, MitoAction, marketing their app direct seems to offer some key advantages.

1: Making direct contact

Because people need to complete a form to download the app, including indicating whether they are a patient, caregiver or nurse:

Crucial contact information is gathered

Potentially, a new, wider relationship can grow between the patient group and the individual.

2: Using marketing data transparently

The form makes clear that by signing up for the app, they:

Are “consenting to receive marketing emails from MitoAction”

Can revoke their consent to receive emails at any time.

3: Working with partner’s own channels

The MitoAction app is based on a comprehensive healthcare app platform from Care3TM

This platform enables a range of functionality in the app itself, including symptom tracking, medication tracking, care planning and direct communication with care teams. But it also means that the platform developers profile and publicise the app on their website, and drive traffic to the charity’s site.

4: Using a range of media

For example, the MitoAction app is profiled across the organisation’s social media, there’s a detailed video of features and benefits on the charity’s YouTube channel, Slide sets and posters are also easily found online. 

So, in some cases, having direct control of the channels around the app transactions could open up new opportunities for patient groups. It all depends on the group’s strategy. 

In MitoAction’s case, they still retain a strong presence on Apple’s iTunes through a set of more than 130 free podcasts.

Sign up to download the patient app MitoAction direct from the not-for-profit organisation’s page at…

Click here

Visit the platform partner’s profile of the app at…

Click here

See a video walkthrough of the app’s features and benefits…

Click here

Browse MitoAction’s wide range of podcasts on mitochondrial disease at…

Click here



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