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Last update: June 2019

3 mins to read

5 Ways Push Notifications Can Benefit Your Health App

It may seem like the greatest of ironies that, in a society where screen-time and sedentary lifestyles have become the norm, health and fitness apps are more popular than ever. Everyone’s heard of Fitbit and the Apple Watch’s fitness tracker, and Apple’s HealthKit and Google Fit are creating a richer, seamless UX across multiple health apps. But the use cases for health apps reach far beyond those of a digital personal trainer. They can serve as an educational source, an archive for medical data, an alarm clock, and more.

If you’re looking for tips on how to leverage push notifications to boost engagement with your health app, read on!

1. Motivate user to stick to their health app exercise regimen

Pinging a user whenever they have something scheduled is a basic use for push notifications, but it definitely works. And with such a wide variety of health and fitness-related apps, there is ample room to get creative with your notifications. There are the basic “It’s 7 am… Time to lace up your running shoes and get jogging!” reminders, and then there are those that get more involved.

If your app counts steps and gauges heartrate, you could send motivational push notifications urging users to keep their workout going a little bit longer – this is especially useful if your user sets themselves a concrete, measurable goal. For example, if they have a certain number of steps they want to hit per day, you can boost morale with a notification of how close they are to reaching it.

After a grueling workout, reward them for their stamina by sending a notification counting up all the calories they burned after exercising. Remind them to cool down, and suggest a few stretches they can do to stay limber.

2. Remind users to take scheduled medications or injections

Apps that track injections and medications are a lifesaver, literally, to both doctors and patients. Especially for patients who have multiple medications to take over the span of a day, week, or month, apps are a great way to keep your schedules regular.

But it’s not just timing: patients need to remember drug name, dosage, and location on the body where it needs to be injected. Particularly when it comes to elderly patients with multiple pills and injections, having all the variables laid out for them in one place is invaluable.

Screenshot of injection tracker app
Image Source: https://apps.apple.com/us/app/injection-tracker-reminder/id1297105025

Of course, it’s also helpful to have a log of which medications were taken and when, and to be able to easily share that data with medical or insurance providers.

3. Streamlining purchasing of medications and equipment via health app

Healthcare apps can also perform eCommerce functions as well, and sending timely push notifications will streamline the convoluted process of filling and collecting prescriptions. For example, if patients are registered with your pharmacy’s app, you can send them a notification when a prescription is available for them to pick up.

With access to their medical data, you can also trigger a notification to be sent out when they need to stock up on a certain medication, say, when they only have a week’s supply left. Use deep links to give them the option to order their prescription in-app, or to request their medication be shipped directly to their house. This way you can keep legwork to the absolute minimum, and make the bureaucracy of the process as painless as possible.

4. Offer users quality content to supplement to their diet or meditation routines

Push notifications can drive customer engagement with your app by offering them great content that can help them stick to their new diet, or a meditation kick. For example, at the beginning of each day, send users notifications with deep links to recipes for healthy snacks or low-calorie meals they can prepare. If you’re more of a holistic health app, send them examples of mantras or small pearls of wisdom for them to ponder during their 15-minute meditation session. If your app supports rich content, inspire them with a video of a 15-minute yoga workout.

Healthy rabbit food, yum yum!

This can work for any app, if you want to build your brand as a provider of content that can be used as reference material (think WebMD). Just make sure you are suggesting relevant content to your users, based on their interests and behavioral data. Personalization is key when it comes to retaining users, and generic notifications sent out en masse generally do more harm than good.

5. Invite users to connect with the wider community

This won’t appeal to all of your users, but to some people, connecting with others going through the same experience as themselves can be helpful. For example, patients taking a particular medication may appreciate being invited to join a forum where they can freely talk about their health issues. Users of a fitness app might like to know about similar people in their area who are looking for training buddies.

Best of all, if you can direct users to engage with each other via a communication channel in-app, you get twice the engagement and your users get a sympathetic ear. Win-win!

Obviously, data privacy laws apply to all of these scenarios, and you will have to verse yourself on local regulations to ensure that you’re compliant. In the United States, all healthcare and medical apps need to apply to HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which provisions for safeguarding medical information from security breaches and hacks.

When it comes to push notification SDKs, OpenBack is the only one whose default mode is HIPAA-compliant. All interaction with user data is done on the device itself, meaning there is no risk to privacy breaches by a third party.

Read our blog to learn more about how OpenBack protects personal data and PII.

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