Defining the ‘Expert’: Patient Acquisition vs. Patient Engagement in mHealth

In app development and promotion, expert involvement holds a hypothetical influence over the likelihood to positively impact app downloads. As the objective shifts from patient acquisition to patient engagement, what are the implications of expert involvement, especially when the patient becomes the expert in the field?

A team of health researchers based in Rotterdam conducted a multivariate regression analysis looking at the predictability of mHealth app downloads, more specifically on the hypothetical influence of expert involvement and its impact as a predictor to the number of urology app downloads. [1] 129 urology apps were identified as eligible for the study in which researchers collected publicly available data for evaluation. Of those 129, only 2 had more than 10,000 downloads, with half having under 100 downloads and 4 apps with none at all.

The study found that apps developed with expert urologist involvement, optional in-app purchases, higher user ratings, and more user reviews were more likely to be installed compared to their counterparts. As such, explicit participation of urologists during the developmental stages of the app were more likely to result in a higher number of unique app downloads.

The explicit participation of experts in app development is likely to enhance the chance for the app to attain a higher number of downloads. In terms of patient acquisition strategies for mHealth apps, the findings reveal that a promotion of expert involvement should be a key consideration to appealing to user interests.

However, in terms of user engagement, at a time where patients are more willing to shift to digital solutions for their care management, patients are the “experts” to leverage actionable insights for better health outcomes. The Health Storylines platform was created in partnership with patients instead of their providers to address their needs and concerns in living with their condition. With over 20,000 registered users and 423,000 data points, Health Storylines is designed to inspire patient engagement to activate better health outcomes. If expert involvement is a key component to increasing the likelihood of mHealth downloads, the patient as the expert should drive the rising trend of engagement-led decision-making models.