Getting personal with mHealth

As our mobile health focus continues, Morten Hjelmsoe shares his tips on applying the same patient-centric objectives to a mhealth strategy as you would to a digital communication strategy.

I give a lot of speeches around Europe and USA at conferences, and all the events are called something that either starts or ends with the word ‘digital’. And usually the program is focused on why and how we can become digital in our communication. I keep stressing that the aim of communication isn’t to ‘go digital’. After all, digital isn’t an objective but rather a tool or a means to an end. What we should be striving for is the same that we have always wanted, namely: becoming customer ‐ centric and being relevant to each person’s needs. Or, as I prefer to put it, becoming individualized. What digital gives us – for the first time ever – is the possibility to stop segmenting and to starting focusing on people at an individual level. That’s the benefit. And it’s what’s revolutionizing our communication with healthcare professionals. Mobile Health, or mHealth as it is often called, should be just another aspect of this digital revolution.

“What digital gives us – for the first time ever – is the possibility to stop segmenting and to starting focusing on people at an individual level. “

If we take mHealth to mean the delivery of healthcare services via mobile communication devices, then exactly the same objectives apply, though to a different audience – patients rather than doctors. But it’s still about removing segmentation and making it relevant by operating on an individual level because that’s the benefit that digital brings. What we need to do with mHealth is what’s necessary with other forms of digital communication, which is to match the right strategy with the technology. To become relevant we need to account for:

• Knowledge

• Motivation

• Context

By knowledge I mean that we have to match the knowledge level of your audience. So if you talk above my level, you’ll loose my attention because I can’t relate to the information. On the other hand, if you talk to a knowledge level below me, I will feel bored or patronized. Either way, I’m not listening. With motivation, I mean someone’s unique desire to engage. It’s important to remember that every time we ask someone to participate in a communication, we are asking him or her to make an effort. And this is an effort that will only happen if they believe that the benefit outweighs the effort. We have a tendency to believe that everybody is driven by the same motivations that we are; yet it’s not the case. You can buy a bicycle, for example, for any number of motivations – because you want to get in shape, because you want to be environmentally aware, or just because it’s a cheap form of transportation. If you talk to the wrong motivation it’ll get you nowhere. Context is the last aspect of becoming truly customer centric and relevant. It’s equally vital. After all, what’s the point of talking at exactly the right knowledge level, and being spot on with our motivational understanding, if the information isn’t available when and where it is needed? When we all first ‘went digital’ it was just a matter of making the information available on the internet. This was all very well if you were sitting at a computer, but useless for other settings. Now of course it is very different. We live in an age when digital communications should flow to wherever we need them.

“We live in an age when digital communications should flow to wherever we need them. “

Mobile communications aren’t mobile because we carry them around in our pockets. It’s truly mobile when it’s always there when you need it – delivered in a form that’s right for the context that you’re in. If we get these three aspects to work – knowledge, motivation, context – we can actually get digital technologies to generate amazing results. Our communications become relevant to people’s understanding, to their needs and to their specific situations. It’s as true for mHealth as it is for the other forms of digital communication. Get it right and we expect better patient outcomes. And that’s a topic that I look forward to discussing with you at a conference soon.



About the author:

Morten Hjelmsø is the Founder and CEO at Agnitio, a leading provider of Closed-Loop Marketing (CLM) software aimed at supporting sales and marketing within pharmaceutical companies. Agnitio CLM helps to control and shorten today’s complex sales processes.

How can you make your mhealth strategy more patient-centric?