TrueFit is an innovation firm that helps entrepreneurs and enterprise-level companies bring new technology products to market quickly. The company considers innovation as part of its core DNA. Enabling others to harness innovation is what they do, and they are passionate about it.
“We’ve helped entrepreneurs with a raw idea on the back of a cocktail napkin, all the way up to an enterprise-level client who looks for extension of their own development staff to help with development, or inject new technologies into their mix such as Smartphone, Web, Social Media and Commercial Software apps,” says Christopher Evans, vice president of TrueFit. “This all occurs through our proprietary Idea Launch™ methodology. Dialing up the value of an idea to get investment funding, or to gain executive approval. TrueFit helps take product ideas from vision to reality—from the whiteboard to the marketplace.”
Evans took some time to respond to our Q&A to let us know how they are leveraging mobile apps as well as the role apps plays in a healthcare organization’s overall marketing and communications strategy.
What role does mobile apps lay in a healthcare organization’s overall marketing and communications strategy? What are the benefits? Mobile and tablets are game-changing communication and interactive tools for healthcare organizations, practitioners and patients. The benefits for the organization are determinant on how much disruption, in a positive sense, a healthcare organization can provide to the market with an app; for example, if you enable a patient to proactively and personally monitor health and wellness on a mobile device, you are literally enabling the entire healthcare system to evolve. As for communications, healthcare organizations can reach patients faster, and with potentially more meaningful interactions. Most importantly, devices like iPad enable healthcare organizations to do more internally and externally, in ways never seen prior. More portability and functionality at one’s fingertips.
Tell us about some of the most common misperceptions organizations have about mobile applications. Many organizations assume an app should just replicate functionality of a website. No! These devices enable user experiences that far surpass a website. Re recommend the creation of an app as an opportunity to have a different type of interaction with your users. Mobile apps have the opportunity to be disruptive, game-changing products. Game-changing value is created by new technology which disrupts the norm by creating new behaviors which effect relationships. It’s less about the interface, and more about doing things you could otherwise not do on a website. Another misconception about apps is that creating them is simple as sitting down and hammering out code. In reality, the user experience is by far the most important component of an apps adoption potential, as well as sustainability and repeat use.
Are more healthcare organizations embracing mobile apps or are they still apprehensive about its use? Despite the inherent caution most hospitals and medical practices exercise on all new technology trends, we’re seeing widespread adoption among the more entrepreneurial and agile healthcare organizations. Healthcare professionals and associations are recognizing how the iPad can offer a more mobile way of accessing patient information, as well as problem solving by easy access to everyday questions. Overall, these organizations and doctors are realizing how much these types of devices can help diagnose and treat disease. Reference, pharmaceuticals, diagnosis and patient care are positively impacted by mobile and tablet apps, therefore, adoption is rapidly increasing across the country.
Tell us about some of the mobile apps you created for your healthcare-related clients. We’ve seen interesting ideas come to our table. We’ve helped a local start-up, PHRQL, create an iPhone app which helps patients manage diabetes on a mobile app. We just kicked-off an App Launch™, True Fit’s proprietary methodology which ideates an app concept from the whiteboard to the marketplace, for a client who wants to help treat and manage Celiac. We recently completed an Osteo App developed to educate on prevention and treatment of Osteoporosis. Our client focuses on Continuing Medical Education on women’s healthcare issues. In particular, we anticipate this app will be impactful for medical professionals who have a particular interest in women’s healthcare, including obstetricians and gynecologists and primary care professionals. Yet another, Honest Aging Monthly, http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/honest-aging-monthly/id444091341?mt=8, offers specific topics, facts, claims and cautious conclusions related to aging. Perhaps one of the most exciting is an Android app we’re creating for an emergency response helicopter service, which should enable more accurate fuel consumption gauging based on the in-cab weight of a patient.
Let’s talk a little bit about social media now. What role does social media play in a healthcare organization’s overall marketing and communications strategy? Various healthcare providers are establishing various channels, like individual Twitter accounts by topic (careers, personal health, urgent care, sports medicine, health plans, etc.) which offer specific information for a certain audience. Hospitals are being more innovative, with the use of informal Flipcam videos for twitter and Facebook. All of these methods help enhance brand loyalty and recruit new patients. There are still enormous challenges in relation to privacy concerns and regulations with social media. We expect to see these continually evolve and rapidly evolve. In once such client instance, we’re working with a leader in Autism research and care to create an online community where families, caregivers and practitioners can collaborate outside of a geographic footprint to reach a larger audience. We’re mindful of all the challenges in relation to privacy as we create this online experience, but expect online patient communities will expand dramatically over the next few years, and it’s going to have an incredible impact on medical research too.
What are some of the issues an organization could face without a successful social media strategy? It’s not about ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, but it really is to an extent—if a healthcare organization fails to reach, interact and build solid interaction with the patient, and an alternate provider does, which organization stands the better chance of winning and maintaining patient, and even generational patient loyalty? Social is innovation, and innovation wins.
How can healthcare organizations better engage in social media? We would suggest that healthcare organizations must look at social as a microcosm of an overall patient interaction experience, and brand experience. Authenticity in all communication must be imperative. Also, the value of the communication is very important in social media, or your audience stops paying attention.