What's Your Digital iQ

Putting technology and trends to work for healthcare marketing

Patrick Richard, VP of Digital Strategy prichard

Responsive Web Design and Healthcare

Responsive Web Design

Understanding what your target audience is looking for online and delivering it effectively is paramount to a positive user experience. Not only is it important to the experience but it will also make or break the success of any message you are delivering to your target audience. You can start by using metrics, surveys, live interview sessions, or beta testing to figure out the best way to set up your online message. If you can take user data and combine it with a flexible online experience real time, your success rate will increase significantly. This is where responsive web design merged with your overall strategy comes to life.

Responsive web design is all about providing the most optimal experience for your end user. In the development sense it’s a combination of flexible layouts, imagery, and CSS media queries. In the world we live in right now, that typically points to mobile strategy when creating the user experience. Whether it’s a laptop, desktop, smartphone, or tablet the interface should adjust accordingly for the screen real estate. If you’re doing this correctly the capabilities of the device being used are exploited for the users benefit. Mobile content needs to be concise, valuable, and to the point. For example, find out the top three things your user wants and give that to them right up front. You can always allow for an entry way into the full desktop experience. This is well worth careful thought and planning with half of the adult US population owning a smartphone.

With all this being said, the question is how could this type of design impact the distribution of important healthcare content. That goes for both the patient and the physician. There is an overwhelming amount of this information available online, but what if there is a more specific story to tell. It could be in regards to an obscure disease, or simply a disease state that is misunderstood. If you start with that lens you can evolve to a responsive web design approach that will give a respective user some real value as it pertains to healthcare. Healthcare related websites are clearly using this type of lens when defining how to approach mobile and responsive web design.

Two Approaches to Know

To break this down a bit further, there are 2 approaches when it comes to mobile that are worth mentioning. There is the standalone mobile site, and the responsive mobile site.

The standalone mobile site will typically be more direct with less information up front. It is staged with a mobile URL such as m.webmd.com. If you come to a mobile responsive web design it takes the entire desktop website and reconfigures on the fly. You end up with all the content from the desktop site, but just presented in a way that leverages the mobile interface. This type of website can be found with the same URL as the desktop website.

What does that look like in the pharma and healthcare information space? Here are a couple effective approaches to healthcare information that uses the principles of Responsive Web Design, and mobile strategy.

Drugs.com uses responsive web design principles: www.drugs.com

WebMD uses device direction to a mobile specific website: m.webmd.com.

There is a debate right now as to what the best strategy is when it comes to responsive web design. Should you use a mobile only optimized website, or a web responsive approach? It really depends on your target goals, audience, and the type of content your providing. If you feel that your audience is limited in time, you may want a very simple direct mobile website. If you are a Drugs.com with lots of information that requires access at all times it lends itself to responsive web design.

Healthcare information is using a number of paths when defining this strategy. The essence of the approach will certainly have a great impact on pharma and healthcare information the more it evolves. It will ultimately define the way people want to consume all types of healthcare information.


Current Trends and the Future of Mobile Health


Mobile is not just where the digital world is focused, but it seems it is where the world is collectively headed. A recent report from eyeforpharma states that mobile is set to overtake desktop Internet usage by the end of 2013. Our mobile phones have become our go-to source for just about everything in our lives, thanks to healthy competition in the market.

It’s not surprising that we are experiencing a surge in mobile health. Being able to access content that promotes or encourages positive health behaviors can have a major impact on health outcomes. It’s also popular belief that, in some situations, mobile can provide the best option for healthcare (whether preventative or reactive). That alone would be a huge shift in how we manage our health…all thanks to mobile.

It’s important to understand that mobile health isn’t just for the patient. Physicians are starting to see the value, as well. With physicians, we’re finding that having access to product information from their device in itself provides great value. In addition, features that assist the physician in kick-starting a conversation with a patient, and then feeding them resources appropriate to their health plan on an ongoing basis are attractive. Physicians want easy access content that provides information for a specific need. If that need is not met, physicians aren’t likely to use a given mobile app. To make mobile health work, we have to ensure that we are empowering both the physician and the patient to improve health outcomes; if we can accomplish that, we’ve won.

Below are some examples of leading mobile apps that are used by both patients and physicians.

Health To Go

Mobile HealthThis mobile application offers a variety of fun and approachable videos on how to improve your health. The idea is that you’ll be more likely to watch the video if it’s not your typical health dialogue and delivery. Features include the ability to share, favorite, and revisit your history at any time. The interface is designed similarly to YouTube so users are immediately familiar with the navigation.


Mobile Health AppsWebMD should be very familiar to many people. It’s a mirror of WebMD.com, but it’s more engaging and easier to use in a lot of ways. The access to local health listings and a symptom checker are easily accessible from the main navigation. While the website offers accessibility to these features as well, the site is much heavier on content presentation from the home page. This is a great example of why mobile is moving to the forefront over traditional desktop usage.


This mobile application is all about quick wins that make you healthier. The name of the application says it all; the user is delivered health “morsels” to take action on. There is immediate feedback given to the user on how many other people have completed a given activity. The app user also has the ability to set up their profile and track progress through a real time activity feed. Similar to Health On The Go you can also save “morsels” as favorites to take on later if you’d like.

Diabetes Buddy

Diabetes Buddy is an on-the-go tracker for everything involved in managing diabetes. There is a general overview section where a user can see glucose, medication, activity, carbs, water, and weight metrics that the user manually enters. The paid version allows for a more sophisticated data readout and segmentation. There are many Diabetes management apps on the market right now, so it really comes down to personal preference, and what best fits an individual’s care needs.


health tapheathTap’s mission is to bring personalization and interactivity to medicine – for both physicians and their patients – through the power of data and the Internet. It connects the patient to the physician in a mobile and virtual environment. You can probably see the appeal right away, which is the convenience of providing expert health answers without an appointment. It’s no wonder that the website already has over 10,000 patient answers completed. Expect many others to follow suite in this piece of the mobile health market.

These examples show the increasing value of mobile health. The question now is where will the trends in mobile health continue to gain the most momentum? That being said, the current trends seem to focus on the physician/patient relationship. The more that relationship can be cemented and truly connected, the better the health outcome.


Social Marketing to Improve Health

Social Health

How often do you hear the buzz words “social web”? On a daily basis, I bet. Depending on your interests and preferred online interactions it could be as much as hourly. In either case, social platforms whether online, offline, or both, have combined to become a great launching point for some highly effective social health campaigns. The refreshing thing is that when it comes to health campaigns, they aren’t based on selling merchandise for profit. At the core these campaigns are about bringing people together to create better health outcomes on a large scale. It gives many people a channel to speak their mind, seek support, offer help, and find resources.

There are some initial questions that come to mind related to these campaigns:

  • Who is creating these campaigns?
  • What do they look like?
  • Can the effectiveness of a campaign to improve health be quantified to show effectiveness?

This post will answer those questions using examples that have been well received and highly effective. Some I’m sure you’ve seen, others are just gaining traction. The key takeaway is to see how they are being executed, and keep in mind they all have a laser focus on a single health topic. It keeps their message on track, and also helps those that take part understand the overarching goal. A focused campaign eliminates the possibility of an audience not understanding and promotes consistent, organic sharing of the message. Read Full Entry


Mapping Data You Already Have

Data Mapping

There are many interesting and effective ways to map data that you may already have from various sources. Whether that data comes from human beings, actions, weather, distance, or really anything that can be tracked and stored as information. How that data you already own are mapped and then presented to another audience is the moment of impact. It can help someone see an idea differently, understand the meaning behind a theory, or provide a mechanism for educating others.

Considering that there are so many options to mapping data, taking a straightforward approach probably won’t get you to that moment of impact. This begs the question, “Where do I start, and how should I think about mapping data.” The answer on a high level is to think about it in a creative way by collaborating with key individuals that understand the data. Secondly, define the end goals you hope to achieve by distributing the data to help guide the overall mapping process. It can’t just be about a data dump. Read Full Entry


Native App vs. Web App

Mobile Web Apps

The healthcare digital space is embraced more and more each day as the market continues to expand. This embrace is specifically strong when it comes to mobile platforms. As many may know mobile-based platforms are now regularly used in healthcare for things like eDetailing and patient education. There are also many mobile devices on the market such as iPhone, iPad, Android, Android Tablet, Blackberry, and Blackberry Playbook to name a few. These mobile devices all have the capability to add applications that are encapsulated within themselves as well as websites or web apps optimized for mobile devices. What I want to talk about in this post are the positive and negatives to both, and offer some thoughts as to where this market is going when it comes to the healthcare field. Read Full Entry


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