Healthcare providers, medical universities and payers launching mHealth initiatives need to establish a comprehensive marketing program that features strong communication strategies with users and provides users with information in a quick and easy fashion.
Large global mHealth programs also need support from government agencies and should avoid doing small pilot studies, advises Arjen Swank, business development manager of Text To Change, a social mobile phone vendor. The company took a grassroots approach to developing a successful HIV-AIDS awareness program in Africa.
"It was very important to have that buy-in from the government early on. If you have the government buy-in from the start and involve them in the compiling of the content and all the technicalities, you don't have to change your whole campaign later on," Swank told SciDev.Net.
That buy-in aspect often includes monetary support and in TTC's mobile healthcare effort it helped TTC achieve success, noted Swank.
Another key factor to a successful mHealth marketing program is ensuring consistent and clear messaging with users and interacting with users using mobile tools.
If users are already using mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones, they expect their healthcare providers to be doing the same, explains Mary Zatina, senior VP of corporate communications for Oakwood Healthcare.
Yet, as FierceMobileHealthcare reported this week, getting some user populations engaged in mobile healthcare can be challenging, such as the elderly who aren't as familiar and comfortable with technology as younger generations.
"We're in a very competitive region," Zatina says in an article in mHealth News. Oakwood Healthcare serves a 500-square-mile area covering 30 communities and 940,000 residents. "We needed a (communications approach) that matches who they are, how they work, how they tick. … We needed to establish a much stronger relationship with people. We need to meet them on their terms."
The provider built a new website and focused on providing users the information they want designed for the small computing screens being used by clients.
"We also have to create a top-of-mind awareness so that they think to look for us," says Zatina.
User interaction is just as valuable, notes Swank.
"Making it interactive means that people will stay in your campaign for longer and they will have a better uptake of the information that you're sending out," he said.
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