What Mobile Adoption Should Look Like in Healthcare

October 20, 2022 |
October 20, 2022

I’m obsessed with learning more about how and why people download and engage with mobile apps. So, when I see new information out in the market that strikes a chord with me, I totally geek out.

It happened recently when I saw this blog post from Storyly, a user engagement platform that works with mobile brands. It’s the first time I’ve seen a product adoption curve adapted specifically for mobile apps.

As I read it, I thought of the words of Grammy Award (and now Emmy Award!) winner Lizzo: “It’s about damn time!” Considering that I spend day and night helping my clients at DeliverHealth drive adoption with their Digital Front Door mobile apps, this blog post was music to my ears.

It got my wheels turning about how to create a product adoption curve that’s specific to healthcare mobile apps in general, and to Digital Front Doors in particular. Using Storyly’s framework as my guide, here’s my take on the four stages of mobile adoption in healthcare, what your mobile adoption curve might look like, and tips for how you can use it to drive app downloads and engagement.



4 Stages of Mobile Adoption in Healthcare

1. Awareness

Stage 1 is when your potential end users (employees, providers, patients, consumers) first become aware of your health system’s mobile app. They may have heard that you’re launching a mobile app. They might know its name. But they’re facing a learning curve, and this is where developing a promotion and strategy campaign targeting both internal and external users can pay big dividends.


2. User onboarding & engagement

Stage 2 happens when potential mobile app users begin to research the app on their own and see whether it will bring them value. At this stage, the features you include within your mobile app will determine whether people will download your app or pass it by. Which features will drive the most engagement? In our experience, these three have the biggest potential upsides.


3. Trial

Once users download your app, they enter Stage 3, otherwise known as the trial stage. This is where health systems must have robust analytics that can show them crucial metrics such as sessions per user, active user sessions, and engagement with popular features. Few healthcare organizations have the internal resources and mechanisms to measure mobile ROI, which is where a partner like DeliverHealth can help. As a benchmark, check out the ROI achieved by our friends at Baptist Health in Kentucky and Indiana. Keep in mind, data doesn’t always give you the answers, but it will help you ask the right questions.


4. Adoption

Many people confuse Stage 3 with Stage 4. Adoption doesn’t happen when people download your Digital Front Door mobile app. Instead, it happens when they become regular users of your app. The best-case scenario is when they become raving fans and recommend your app to their friends and family members. I see it too often in this industry — healthcare organizations that invest in mobile apps but are then left saddled with a highly complex and nuanced piece of technology that ultimately goes underutilized.



The mobile product adoption curve in healthcare

Storyly based its mobile adoption curve off of Everett Rogers’ Innovation Adoption Curve. It identifies specific personality traits and behavioral patterns that contribute to someone accepting a new product or innovation.

Using Rogers’ framework, here are the key personality traits I use to explain what your ideal mobile product adoption curve in healthcare might look like. You can use these traits to target your Digital Front Door adoption and promotion strategy toward specific users at the appropriate stage.



Innovators are people who have the most information and knowledge about your mobile app. They, therefore, are the ones who are most likely to adopt your app the fastest. In healthcare,

the innovators will be the key project stakeholders within your organization. They may come from IT, strategy, business development, marketing, or patient experience roles—anyone who has had a seat at the table for the development of your Digital Front Door.


Early adopters

This second-fastest group of mobile app adopters are most often your employees — from executives all the way down through the front lines. They already know your organization. Most will see value in your Digital Front Door quickly. Target promotion toward them so they will “get” your mobile app and understand fully how it will benefit them, their friends, their family members, and their connections within their communities.


Early majority

This group may not be the first to download your app, but they’ll play a key role in driving your Digital Front Door strategy forward. Early majority users are typically digitally savvy patients who use your healthcare system regularly. The key demographic is between ages 36 and 50, although some early majority users may fall on the younger or older side of this age range.


Late majority

Your late majority users are those who will likely be quite skeptical when they first hear about your mobile app, but they will eventually warm up to it. These may include patients ages 55 or older who aren’t as apt to latch onto new mobile apps or services. Late majority users may also be millennials or Gen Z users who delay adapting your Digital Front Door solution solely because they don’t use your health system’s services all that often.



Your laggards are the ones who will download your app as late in the game as possible. This group may include older adults who don’t use technology at all, or those who use it sparingly. They may not download your app unless or until a provider tells them they should do so.



How to move your mobile product adoption curve forward

Digital Front Doors are different from other mobile apps. While many mobile products today rely on subscriptions as a way to incentivize engagement and adoption, health systems don’t charge patients to use their mobile apps.

That’s why the key to moving your mobile product adoption curve forward in healthcare is to fill your mobile app with content and features that your users will find helpful. Let’s be honest, healthcare is a commodity — you only need it when you need it. The challenge is creating content and experiences within a mobile-first environment that people actually want and find value in.

Another helpful hint: Create personas that accurately describe the behaviors and motivations of your innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority, and laggards. Unsure where to start? Get an overview of what personas are — and how they work — in this blog post.

When you choose a Digital Front Door solution built on the DeliverHealth platform, you’ll get access to 40-plus out-of-the-box integrations, allowing you to add features that will drive engagement at every stage of your mobile app’s adoption curve. You’ll also get detailed analytics and experts who will help you create a promotion and adoption strategy tailored to your organization. If you want to learn more, let’s talk.