Bringing together patients' perspectives on eHealth and mHealth

Video Marketing to Promote Health Apps

Patient groups use simple videos to make apps stand out

The whole healthcare industry struggles to find ways to make new health apps stand out. Patient groups have a uniquely trusted and credible relationship with their patient communities. However, they tend to lack the time and money to market the apps they create. We are beginning to see patient groups become more pragmatic about using video to promote their apps.

Differentiating patient group apps

The annual review of the health apps industry from Research2Guidance always makes terrifying and stark reading. As we reported recently, their research indicates that last year around 78,000 new health apps came onto the market, taking the total to more than 325,000.

It’s therefore not surprising that there are only a few apps that reach an active patient audience. The report also indicated that health app developers are continuing to move out of the bedroom and into the boardroom. There’s massive investments in new specialist digital companies. These are starting to market more aggressively and professionally to secure a profit on their apps.

This adds to the danger that with little or no marketing budget, patient group apps get lost in the sea available. There is still opportunity to stand out.  For a variety of reasons, most health app developers still seem to neglect the marketing basics. 

I had a colleague who used to say that after living through the blood, sweat and tears in developing a project, he’d feel like throwing it in a corner, and never looking at it again. When you look at most health app profile pages you wonder if that’s how app developers feel. There’s little strength, will or budget left, it seems, for even getting the basics in place for marketing.

Getting the basics in place

Patient groups which commission, develop, or act as expert partners on apps should have a number of key advantages over most developers. For example, they have credibility, and are well-trusted by their patient communities. Moreover, they have existing channels and strong relationships with their patients.  

Yet, for many patient groups it remains challenging to make their apps stand out from the clutter in the market. 

For example: 

  • How clear is your description on app channels like iTunes and Google Play?
  • Do you profile the app in all the channels you have to patients, for example through email and other contact?
  • How prominent is the app on your website? For example, is there a `shop window’ page to introduce the app, possibly including a simple video walkthrough?
  • Do you include patient stories to show how individuals have benefited from the app?
  • How do you show that patients have been involved in the development of the app, and how their feedback has steered its development?
Keeping it simple and cost effective

One way of standing out is to demonstrate the benefits of the app through video. The big players can produce slick animated videos, but may lack access to patients. Patient groups can leverage the patient story. At its best, this would be a patient walking through the app, talking about their views on it. 

None of this need be expensive or high quality. With the right patient, and the right content, compromises can be made on image, sound, and editing quality.

For example, the Heart Failure Association of America, whose activities include patient advocacy and education, captured a 12-minute walkthrough `as if live’ to help patients to use their app, Heart Failure Health Storylines.  Although it’s the longest example we have found of a patient app walkthrough, it is comprehensive. It has the feel of a nurse coaching you through the app. The fact that it is not expensive-looking, just makes it feel more real.

When a patient group has a clear idea of the benefits of the app video style does not matter much. For example, an app developed by the American Alzheimer’s Association app, has a clear video that relies on little more functionality than a PowerPoint presentation. However, it does outline the features and benefits of the app in three minutes. It is a very cost-effective example of using video to make a patient group app stand out.    

NEXT STEPS:

Use the `submit blog’ form on this site to share any examples of good practice in how patient groups profile and market their apps.

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View the American Alzheimer’s Association app video demo…

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View the Heart Failure Association of America video walkthrough of their app…

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See reviews of both apps mentioned in this blog at myhealthapps.net…

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