Digital health apps: How two mindset bugs and two consultation errors hinder their use

What it’s all about

Digital health apps have been performing extremely poorly since their introduction. The root cause analysis shows that two mindset bugs, supplemented by two other „craft“ errors, torpedo substantial dissemination.

Mindset-Bug 1

„Our patients don’t want digitisation, they want their doctor.“ This fundamental belief is heard very often from GPs and specialists. The problem: it is a mindset bug based solely on subjective assessments, because too little exploratory analysis is carried out in this area, as is generally the case in outpatient medicine. Rather, practice owners rely on their gut feeling and hearsay. However, the results of the IFABS Business Comparison Tracker© for GP, specialist and dental practice management show that the actual patient requirements differ significantly. Every doctor could easily determine this within the framework of his patient surveys by inserting a corresponding additional question.

Mindset bug 2

The second bug is: „Patients won’t use the digital health apps after all.“ This toxic mindset results from the interaction of the medical profession’s own experience with analogous therapy programmes offered to patients (nutrition, sport, etc.), personal assessments and the statements of third parties. However, doctors are also in control of this point, but they would have to avoid two mistakes in order to do so.

Mistake 1

Doctors do not select patients suitable for the use of a digital application carefully enough and, above all, do not explain the benefits sufficiently or in a patient-oriented way. This creates far too little primary motivation for long-term use even at the outset, since the doctor also demonstrates little conviction of his own through the type of digital health app presentation.

Failure 2

Prescribers subsequently no longer care about the use of digital health apps and leave patients to their own experiences. However, like all exercise and behavioural programmes designed for the longer term, digital health applications require ongoing motivation and support. That is why it is essential that digital health apps are also a part of the medication plan and are discussed at regular intervals in doctor-patient consultations. However, this has only happened in a few individual cases so far.