7 Tips for a Successful mHealth Strategy

By Jason Wang/ Published on April 6, 2016

TrueVault works with healthcare organizations and channel partners to deliver foundational technologies to power their mHealth strategies. Doing so has given us plenty of opportunity to develop a deep understanding of what works (and what doesn’t) as healthcare organizations proceed on this journey.

Here we’ll share some of our key insights, to help you successfully drive forward your organization’s mHealth strategy and avoid some of the potential pitfalls.

1. Start small, with a one-month deliverable.

The challenge of transforming your entire existing technology capability in order to arrive at your desired end state can appear daunting. Many factors can conspire to make mHealth strategies seem too long-term and difficult to execute: existing legacy technologies and systems, depreciation schedules, lack of practical skills in operating cloud technologies, security and compliance concerns.

How can this be made more manageable? Our perspective is that the best way is to start small: even a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Practically, we recommend working to achieve a first, limited milestone within a one month period. This often means using a pilot program to build a prototype mobile application which connects to a secure data store that meets all security and compliance requirements. After achieving this one month milestone, the next step is to continue to iterate on one month cycles. In that way you can start small, and grow from there.

2. Measure business value.

Our customers have found that as they launch improved member web portals and highly capable mobile apps , their member support costs are dropping. With members able to check things like their claim status, year-to-date out-of-pockets and deductibles limits online, they are much less likely to need to phone the support team to get answers, leading to considerable savings.

Lower support costs is one concrete measure of business value, and we recommend tracking this as you implement your mHealth strategy. Going further, successful businesses usually track additional business value metrics such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), retention rate, lifetime value and even member gains and losses during open enrollment periods. In short, an investment in technology should lead to increased business value, and it’s important that companies work to establish and implement metrics to measure that increase over time.

3. Measure technical agility.

The move to a more modern, cloud-based development pattern offers the promise of faster, more responsive iterations of the applications used by your members. We recommend taking steps to measure and track this improvement.

There are three key ways our customers tend to measure this velocity. First, how long it takes to build and release a new application. Second, how quickly iterations can happen. And third, how long it takes to set up resources for developers (such as a virtual machine or database). Often each metric experiences an order of magnitude improvement: we’ve heard from customers that they went from needing a month or longer to provide a developer with a provisioned database to a situation where they could deliver this capability in less than 30 minutes.

4. Build and nurture executive support.

Driving an mHealth strategy for its own sake is not a winning plan: it’s vital to make sure that it serves your organization’s overall mission and strategy. In our experience, effective mHealth strategies map specifically to clear business goals, such as increasing customer satisfaction and retention, gaining market share or decreasing support costs. (This is why we think it’s so important to measure and track business value metrics as stated in Tip #1 above.)

At the same time, it’s just as important to work to build and nurture executive level support for your mHealth strategy. It’s therefore worth taking the time to effectively communicate the business values it promotes, in order to ensure that it’s widely recognized as serving the overall strategy of the business.

5. Find allies willing to help.

Executing an effective mHealth strategy will often involve change at a technological level: changes in IT processes, in how your organization works with data and in how applications are built and operated. Unfortunately, it’s likely that some stakeholders will resist elements of this change.

We encourage customers to seek out and develop allies in their IT / application development department or partner organization who are willing to embrace the change and support their efforts. Our experience tells us that these potential supporters are out there, but that it’s important to work to find and build them into allies from the start.

6. Celebrate and highlight small milestones.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and nor will your mHealth strategy be executed overnight. As mentioned in Tip #1, we recommend starting small and setting a target of one month in which to land a first deliverable. Change will occur in baby steps at first, and it’s important to celebrate those early milestones.

It’s also important to raise awareness to the broader group of the importance of these steps in terms of executing the overall strategy. Remind people that the journey will take time, but that these first steps will establish the patterns and capabilities that the business needs in order to build a strong and vibrant mHealth strategy.

7. Enlist the help and service of your IT Security and Compliance team.

For a healthcare company, security and compliance are vital factors in any technology initiative. It’s therefore imperative that you enlist your IT Security and Compliance team early (and often), as they are key stakeholders in executing your mHealth strategy.,

This is an area where TrueVault can definitely help. We have successfully participated in dozens of security and compliance audits with IT Security, Compliance, and CISO teams, and we are always available for current or prospective customers.

As you drive your organization’s mHealth strategy forward, you will face many challenges, but data security and developer agility should not be on the list. TrueVault is a Secure Data Platform-as-a-Service that is attracting clients from across the healthcare industry, all of them seeking greater leverage and business value from their technology investments.

TrueVault’s service provides the advanced data protection capabilities its customers need for sensitive Protected Health Information (PHI), combined with a modern API designed to maximize developer productivity. As a result, TrueVault customers can overcome data challenges and gain a platform to drive business value now and in the future.

Well, there you have it. Whether you are still putting together your organization’s mHealth strategy or if the journey has already started, you should be able to increase your chances for success by following our top tips.

We’d love to hear from you. If you have any tips of your own to share email us, at blog@truevault.com and we’ll share them with our readers in future posts.

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