Testing your mobile healthcare experience

By UserTesting | August 23, 2023
A closeup of a woman with pink nails holding her phone while also on her laptop.

The healthcare landscape is changing rapidly due to technological advances and the proliferation of mobile apps. Mobile healthcare has transformed how patients access, manage, and engage with the healthcare system. But, amidst digitalization, there's an urgency to ensure that these mobile healthcare experiences are seamless, intuitive, and centered upon patient needs.

The rise of mobile healthcare

Mobile healthcare, also known as mHealth, is seeing explosive growth. Telehealth portals, mental health and mindfulness apps, community forums, and appointment management solutions are examples of mainstream innovations we use daily. But there are many other arenas in which mHealth has become a pivotal force. 

Patient empowerment through technology

One of the driving factors behind the ascent of mobile healthcare is the widespread use of smartphones and wearable devices. These technologies have empowered individuals to take charge of their health and well-being like never before. 

Patients can monitor their vital signs, track fitness levels, and even manage chronic conditions from their pockets or wrists. This seamless integration of technology into daily life quickly dissolves the barriers between medical care and personal empowerment.

Remote medical delivery

The convenience offered by mobile healthcare is reshaping how medical professionals deliver care. Telemedicine, a subset of mHealth, enables doctors to diagnose, treat, and consult with patients remotely, transcending geographical boundaries. 

This approach improves access to medical expertise for rural and remote populations and reduces the strain on overcrowded clinics and emergency rooms. Through real-time video consultations and virtual monitoring, patients can receive personalized attention without the hassle of commuting or waiting for appointments.

Proactive healthcare

Mobile healthcare allows people to manage their healthcare proactively. Health and wellness apps provide personalized recommendations based on users' data, encouraging them to adopt healthier lifestyles.

From suggesting dietary improvements to creating tailored exercise routines, these apps empower individuals to make informed choices. This helps prevent potential health issues rather than merely reacting to them.

New data insights

Mobile healthcare plays a critical role in healthcare data collection and research. The ability to gather real-time data from thousands, or even millions, of users allows researchers and healthcare organizations to identify health trends, track the spread of diseases, develop more effective treatment strategies, and optimize the patient journey. This data-driven approach may accelerate medical breakthroughs and enhance understanding of various health conditions. 

Benefits of mobile healthcare

Mobile technology is transforming the methods of healthcare access and delivery. Both patients and providers benefit from mobile healthcare's convenience and connectivity.

Mobile healthcare for patients

There are many different ways mobile healthcare can benefit patients.

Access to vital medical information 

Mobile apps allow people to access test results, medical records, and insurance information easily. Through patient portals and apps, patients can benefit from round-the-clock self-service access.

Enhanced telehealth convenience 
Gone are the days of tedious commutes for healthcare visits. Mobile apps allow patients to engage in video consultations with healthcare providers from anywhere.

Simplified appointment management
Appointment scheduling apps redefine how patients book visits and receive reminders. By streamlining scheduling, these apps mitigate the occurrence of no-shows, optimizing the healthcare process for patients and providers.

Empowerment in provider selection
Mobile healthcare developments have also created comprehensive provider directories and review platforms. As a result, patients can handpick doctors and easily compare service offerings to tailor their experience to their preferences.

Effortless financial transactions 
Settling medical bills and health plan premiums becomes a breeze through mobile apps, minimizing the friction associated with financial transactions in healthcare.

Digital convenience for health insurance 
Digital insurance ID cards and online health plan account management simplify patient insurance management.

Personalized health management
Some mobile health apps include features like symptom checkers, medication reminders, and health monitoring. They ensure that patients are actively engaged in their health journeys.

Mobile healthcare experiences save patients time and hassle. They also enable broader self-service access to health information, greater engagement in personal health, and easier connection with providers.

Mobile healthcare for healthcare professionals

There are also several advantages that the mobile healthcare experience brings to doctors, nurses, administrators, and other care providers: 

Swift access to patient insights
Mobile healthcare provides convenient access to patient health records, lab reports, imaging results, and clinical decision support. It streamlines your decision-making processes and helps your organization deliver more informed care.

Time savings due to automation

With mobile healthcare, you can use automation tools to save time and resources. Voice-to-text documentation, seamless prescription workflows, and simplified inventory and billing management expedite tasks that would otherwise be cumbersome and time-consuming.

Reduced administrative burden

You can reduce your administrative burden by integrating patient self-service tools and automated workflows. These features enhance the patient experience and liberate healthcare professionals to focus on their core expertise.

Remote monitoring and triage

Mobile healthcare empowers healthcare professionals to monitor chronically ill patients and efficiently triage cases remotely. Remote monitoring minimizes unnecessary hospital visits, optimizing resource allocation and improving patient outcomes.

Revenue expansion through telehealth

Telehealth visits and remote patient monitoring programs can open up new avenues of revenue for healthcare organizations. These innovative approaches expand service offerings while catering to evolving patient preferences.

Amplified clinical collaborations

Mobile platforms allow care teams to better collaborate on service delivery and organizational objectives. They facilitate faster consultations, propelling efficient clinical decision-making and enhancing the overall quality of patient care.

Reduced errors and improved outcomes
Clinical mobile apps with care guidelines and alerts reduce errors and lead to more positive patient outcomes. They ensure that healthcare professionals operate on a foundation of evidence-based practice.

How mobile healthcare facilitates underserved communities and vulnerable populations

Mobile health can be especially beneficial for underserved communities that lack access to quality care. Mobile tools help bridge some of these disparities by:

  • Bringing care directly to patients via telehealth apps and mobile health clinics
  • Breaking language barriers with multilingual applications
  • Improving health literacy with videos, animations, and interactive mobile education
  • Helping patients with disabilities via voice-activated apps and other innovations
  • Addressing social determinants of health by providing patients with access to a diversity of health information and support services

Considerations for a better mobile healthcare experience

Despite their benefits and opportunities, mobile health apps come with challenges. Protecting patient data, delivering intuitive user experiences (UX), and integrating with complex healthcare systems require special considerations.

Data security and privacy

Healthcare data is highly sensitive. Mobile health apps must protect patient privacy and securely transmit personal health information (PHI). Here are a few data security and privacy features your mobile healthcare solutions should have:

  • Mandatory user authentication with passwords and biometrics like fingerprints or facial recognition
  • Encrypted data storage and SSL/TLS encrypted data transmission
  • No caching or storing PHI on local devices and the ability to delete cached temporary files
  • Implementing granular user permissions and access controls
  • Activity logging to track access, plus alerts for suspicious activity
  • Time-outs requiring re-authentication after periods of inactivity
  • Rigorous penetration testing and fixes before the mobile health app launch

Furthermore, it's essential that the apps you use and provide are compliant with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Using HIPAA-compliant platforms protects your patients' PHI on mobile apps and devices. 

UX and UI

Healthcare apps must also be intuitive and easy for patients to use. Complex interfaces cause frustration, impair task completion, and disengage users. 

If your organization offers an app for patients to manage their care, prioritize the mobile healthcare experience, making it seamless and straightforward. Start by employing the following UX design best practices:

  • Perform user research and testing to understand patient and provider needs
  • Develop empathy and understanding through interviews and observations with users
  • Keep user interface (UI) minimalist, consistent, and focused on critical tasks and user goals
  • Develop a clean visual design that builds trust and aids scannability
  • Optimize information architecture and navigation for mobile
  • Consider the level of accessibility for users with disabilities

Usability on multiple mobile devices

You should also ensure your mobile apps can work with the diversity of mobile devices available. Test usability and responsiveness across different:

  • Screen sizes, including phones, tablets, phablets, and wearables
  • Operating systems, including iOS, Android, and Windows
  • Browsers like Safari, Chrome, and Firefox
  • Input types such as touch, stylus, mouse, keyboard, and voice
  • Contexts such as mobility, device orientation, and glare

If you're developing an app for your organization, follow platform conventions and leverage native capabilities for an optimized mobile healthcare experience across devices.

APIs and integration

Healthcare IT systems are often fragmented. Mobile health apps must smoothly integrate with electronic health records (EHRs), practice management or billing systems, and other software through Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). You can deliver a simple patient experience with the right APIs and integrations. When deciding on what mobile health solutions are right for you, consider the following:

  • Which systems must you connect with to enable key app functionality?
  • How can APIs and automation streamline workflows and reduce manual data entry?

The role of user experience in patient engagement

User experience in mobile healthcare is far more than just patients' interactions with mobile solutions. It includes every aspect of the app, from design, functionality, accessibility, and the effectiveness of these digital tools in facilitating health-related tasks.

Positive user experience leads directly to higher patient engagement. When apps provide uncomplicated pathways to accessing essential health records and insurance information, patients are more inclined to use them. Similarly, the allure of telehealth solutions becomes stronger when patients can access intuitive mechanisms for video consultations and hassle-free scheduling.

Patients are more likely to enter their health information, such as symptoms or lifestyle details, when it's straightforward. This affects patient engagement and makes care more efficient. Patients will also be engaged by well-designed applications that encourage healthy habits. 

Furthermore, mobile healthcare solutions with better UX gain more traction. That's mainly because patients willingly share valuable apps with others seeking support in their healthcare journeys. 

Thus, the more seamless and satisfying the UX, the more patients will continue using your mobile health apps. Making things easy to understand and user-centered is essential to boosting engagement.

How to improve the mobile healthcare experience

Improving healthcare mobile UX requires continuously testing with real users and iterating your solutions. Focus on elevating the human experience versus just maximizing features.

Collect direct user feedback through user testing

Traditional market research provides limited insights into user interactions with mobile prototypes and apps. Mobile testing solves this problem by uncovering usability issues that surveys and focus groups often miss. 

Here's how you can optimize your testing approach for effective results:

  • Prioritize early concept and prototype testing to uncover flaws before launch
  • Opt for one-on-one usability tests for in-depth UX feedback and insights
  • Embrace remote moderated testing to access a geographically diverse user perspective
  • Ensure targeted participant recruitment to represent your user demographics accurately 
  • Incorporate think-aloud protocols to gain insights into user thought processes
  • Employ post-task interview questions to uncover impressions and difficulties
  • Utilize quantitative metrics like task completion rates and error analysis
  • Gather qualitative feedback to understand subjective user satisfaction

Emphasize continuous testing and iteration

The work doesn't stop at launch. Monitor app reviews and analytics to detect emerging UX issues and run ongoing usability tests to spot areas for optimization. 

Fixing problems and improving apps requires an iterative mindset. Here are a few key strategies to implement:

  • Release early minimum viable products (MVPs) for user feedback instead of over-engineering
  • Use session replays to pinpoint usability hotspots like health form abandonment
  • Segment analytics by persona to analyze usage metrics for target audiences
  • Prioritize design sprints to prototype and test new concepts
  • Set up formal processes to route UX issues to those responsible for design and development 

Through these strategies, you'll keep enhancing the user experience long after launch.

Test and optimize for an omnichannel patient experience

Patients interact with healthcare services across multiple channels, such as websites, apps, mobile phones, and social media. You want to create an omnichannel patient experience that ensures your patients always have a positive experience, regardless of what channel they use to interact with you. 

When adopting a comprehensive omnichannel approach, it’s important to remember the following concepts. 

Understanding patient journeys across channels 
Viewing patients' interactions from their perspective and mapping out their experiences helps pinpoint areas of friction and pain points.

Streamlining usability across platforms 
Usability testing is crucial in assessing how easily patients can accomplish tasks spanning multiple channels. Evaluate the simplicity and intuitiveness of tasks, such as scheduling appointments or accessing medical information, across your platforms.

Consistency as a cornerstone 
Maintain consistency across content, branding, and user interface design. Such uniformity reinforces the healthcare provider's identity and fosters patient comfort as they transition between platforms.

Eliminating confusion and repetition 
A core goal of optimizing the omnichannel experience is eradicating confusion and repetition when patients shift from one channel to another. Effortless transitions between the web and mobile apps are critical to preventing patient disorientation.

Prioritizing workflow optimization 
By identifying and streamlining workflows according to the highest-priority patient goals, you can ensure that patients achieve their objectives swiftly and efficiently, regardless of their channel.

Continuously evaluate the end-to-end experience across channels to remove friction and establish cross-channel continuity.

Build user-centric mobile health experiences with UserTesting

In the digital age, healthcare extends beyond the walls of hospitals and clinics. It has expanded and evolved, making its way into patients' hands through mobile devices. 

The promise of mobile healthcare lies in its potential to revolutionize care delivery, bridge gaps for vulnerable populations, and address social determinants of health. The user experience can't be an afterthought to realize this promise. It must be front and center.

As an industry leader in experience research solutions, UserTesting helps organizations get indispensable insights to build user-centric mobile health experiences

Frequently asked questions

Why is there a surge in the development of mobile healthcare apps?

Beyond meeting the technological trends of the digital age, there's an increasing demand for remote patient care, telemedicine, and instant health updates, all of which mobile healthcare apps facilitate.

How often should a mobile healthcare app undergo usability testing after its launch?

Ideally, there should be usability tests for every significant update or new feature addition. Regular testing can help catch unseen issues and evolve with user demands.

How can healthcare organizations gather genuine user feedback for ongoing improvements?

Organizations can integrate feedback tools within the app, conduct periodic surveys, and leverage solutions like UserTesting to get genuine, actionable insights directly from their user base and consumers.

What's next

Understand what you can test, how to test it, and get real-world examples of how UserTesting customers leverage the platform to improve patient and consumer experiences while remaining HIPAA compliant.

About the author(s)

With UserTesting’s on-demand platform, you uncover ‘the why’ behind customer interactions. In just a few hours, you can capture the critical human insights you need to confidently deliver what your customers want and expect.