Healthy Health Apps Put Digital Quality First

The edict that existed in other industries now exists in healthcare and wellness too: provide a high-quality experience for your customers, or the competition will scoop them up. Sure, a patient in dire need of medical attention likely won’t ask paramedics to turn the ambulance toward another hospital, but many patients seeking routine preventative care are exercising their options in the marketplace. Whether they want care that fits their budget, high-ranking doctors and facilities, specialized services or simply a more convenient option, patients won’t just settle for the closest healthcare provider anymore.

This is true also for fitness and wellness service providers. Customers that purchase a wellness device or subscribe to a service expect that investment to fit with their lifestyle or augment it. In these instances, the customer experience ties directly to revenue — neglect it, and you might be out of business.

In the health and wellness industries, the goal is a happy and healthy customer. In today’s world, that means removing friction from their digital experiences. If you can’t deliver a positive experience, you won’t even get the chance to provide care; they’ll just go elsewhere.

So, what does a high-quality patient or wellness experience look like? That’s the question we set out to answer.

The State of Digital Quality for Health and Wellness

Our new report, State of Digital Quality for Health and Wellness 2022, covers some of the common defects these companies experience on the way to releasing products. Our data covers a year’s worth of work with our clients, from January 1, 2021 - December 31, 2021, and details the affects these bugs have in the health and wellness industry. While there are unique considerations in health and wellness, particularly for hospitals, ultimately software developers and testers must fundamentally prioritize digital quality.

View our infographic for an overview of key data points from the report, which includes testing from more than:

  • 2,200 mobile devices

  • 260 operating systems

  • 10,800 defects

  • 72 countries

Healthcare companies and fitness/wellness providers generally have very different paths to revenue generation and high-quality customer journeys. Let’s look at some key findings from the report to better understand these sub-industries, starting with healthcare providers, then moving on to fitness and wellness companies.

3 key findings for healthcare providers

Between regulatory challenges and the necessity of providing the best care possible for every patient, hospitals can’t simply prioritize revenue over all other criteria. Yet, these criteria are not mutually exclusive. A more attentive approach to digital quality can help healthcare providers stay in compliance, understand patient needs, enable and deliver better care, and keep revenue coming in — all at the same time.

Here are three key priorities for healthcare companies.

1. Prioritize the patient experience.

The global pandemic forced a shift to digitally enabled healthcare options, such as telehealth and mHealth. While these initiatives were priorities to some healthcare companies prior to the pandemic, it became a necessity to enable these patient experiences just to keep the lights on.

There’s no going back now. Patients now have higher expectations for the digital options that enable their care. Mobile apps must work seamlessly to enable patients to view test results or schedule an appointment. Telehealth portals must connect reliably and without too much complication for less tech-savvy users.

Even in hospitals and doctors’ offices, this digital push is evident. Whether it’s a kiosk for less-urgent triage or a better back-end application that shares updated patient data quickly so they don’t have to answer the same questions on each visit, patients ultimately experience the benefits of well-designed, developed and tested systems.

It all boils down to this: reduce the friction, improve the experience — and the care too. When healthcare systems work more efficiently, it helps care providers triage, diagnose and prescribe faster. When doctors can get their work done easier, it helps them provide a higher level of care to a greater quantity of patients, which ultimately results in better hospital or doctor rankings, which attracts more patients in the future. A little digital mindfulness goes a long way.

2. Nurture new and lifelong customer journeys.

It is conceivable that a patient might be born at a hospital and stay within that healthcare network for their entire lives. In these instances, there is no excuse for that provider not to have the customer’s information readily available to make triage and care seamless.

This, of course, requires attention to digital quality during patient registration, intake, system migrations and more. Whether you’re a new patient to the hospital network or one who just finished registration, you want access to care without jumping through hoops. Yet, many hospitals struggle to present a cohesive digital experience, missing an opportunity to attract new patients or retain them.

Customer journey testing is the best way to understand these patient journeys through your digital systems. Not only can this blend of physical and digital testing reveal weak points in your digital posture, but it can help assess gaps in demographics, such as why young people tend not to be patients at your hospital, or where they experience frustration in scheduling and attending a telehealth appointment.

3. Accessibility is an imperative.

While other industries put accessibility on the back burner for years, healthcare providers had to prioritize access for people with disabilities (PwD). But, as care becomes more digitalized, it is important not to leave this large group behind.

The shift to telehealth occurred largely out of a desire to keep care providers and patients safe. To some degree, it continues in that spirit today, though convenience and overhead are large factors for many patients. PwD, however, might struggle to get to a physical doctor’s office and might have more vulnerability to disease. So, when prioritizing digital care, put accessibility at the forefront of that assessment, enabling PwD to interact with systems and features.

In addition, emphasis on accessible design will help everyone use your apps or systems. Closed captioning, for example, is useful to patients who might be traveling or in a public place where it is hard to hear. Likewise, proper color contrast levels can help everyone see and use your apps.

3 key findings for fitness/wellness providers

Following a more traditional product- and service-oriented path, fitness and wellness providers seek to improve customers’ physical or mental health through opt-in devices and subscriptions. For these companies, the user experience is crucial to acquiring and maintaining a robust customer base.

Here are three key priorities for fitness and wellness companies.

1. Make sure the product works from start to finish.

Functional testing can validate many device features, but defects can come in many different forms, in many different stages of the SDLC, vary depending on the many different device/OS combinations available, and occur with many different levels of severity.

Our report indicated that workflow errors account for the majority (64.7%) of functional defects for health and wellness companies, which resulted in everything from crashes to minor inconveniences. While internal teams catch many functional defects, the sheer scope of customer devices, networks, OSes and more lead to defects escaping through to production. Worse, in the case of fitness and wellness devices, defects can present themselves days, weeks, months or even years after setup — perhaps when a patch is implemented.

Reduce defects, especially higher-value defects, and proactively seek customer feedback to understand where they encounter friction with your devices and apps. Remember that customer tolerance is at its lowest point early in the customer journey, so unboxing and initial use must be as seamless and easy as possible. Validate these flows.

2. Understand the target customer.

Health and wellness companies cover a wide range of potential customers. A high-end fitness equipment and subscription company might target affluent, young, fit customers, while a fall detection device likely targets an older base of users. Testing in a vacuum won’t necessarily reveal the issues your real customers encounter in the real world.

A blend of customer journey and UX testing can help you mine insights from prospective customers before you launch. Identify where they struggle to use your product and whether it meets their expectations. Understand the customer response before the product reaches their hands, not after, to limit potential damage to customer onboarding and retention, as well as brand reputation.

Additionally, localization testing can put you ahead of the curve for a new market launch. Target real people in the markets where you plan to launch, fitting your customer profiles, to understand where products miss the mark. Localization covers language translation, but goes far beyond that, considering the region’s cultural sensitivities, units of measurement and more.

3. Keep customers over the long term.

Customer churn is a challenge for many industries. Any fitness or wellness companies that follow a subscription-based model should be proactive about addressing customer issues to keep them in the fold.

Promotional offers or discounted rates might entice customers to stay, as many younger consumers are accustomed to starting and stopping subscriptions at their convenience. Payment testing with real payment instruments can ensure bundled, promotional or discounted rates are processed as expected.

UX testing can help you further understand how customers feel about a product or feature. Uncover cumbersome issues that might eventually cause a canceled subscription, such as inconsistent calorie burn or heart rate tracking, an unpleasant user interface, charging issues and more.

Dig into the State of Digital Quality report

Download our report, State of Digital Quality in Health and Wellness 2022 to see more digital quality findings.

Foster a culture of digital quality that supports your innovation efforts and aligns with industry standards. Contact us today to learn more about how the Applause global community of digital experts can help you achieve your digital quality goals.

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David Carty
Senior Content Manager
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