Usability of Medical Apps – designing for compliance

PUBLISHED 20th April 2018

We are just starting an exciting piece of research, funded by ourselves, into the design of Medical Apps. We want to investigate whether there are any design features of apps that encourage compliance.

We all know that the drop-off rate for app use is high. But some people persist, and use apps on a longer term basis. Why?

What makes some apps get used and others not? There is plenty of research into the psychology of compliance, but not so much on the role of design in compliance, especially for apps.

We have set out to investigate the features of apps that are associated with compliance. Because we are interested in usability, and because we advise clients on design, our focus is on the app design and how it marries with the psychology of compliance.

Some of the key research questions will be…

  • Are there individual characteristics unique to some individuals that lead to them using the app longer term?
  • Which types of personalities with certain lifestyles or habits that are more likely to continue?
  • If so how can the rest of the user population be reached and can anything be learnt from this group?

Using an open ended conversation based approach we aim to learn what features are most successful in user compliance and preventing drop off and what differentiates the long and short term users.

For this piece of research we have partnered with Patient Powered Medicine ( who specialise in understanding and mapping human experience. PPM explore the experiences of patients and users of services and identify trends and themes in their testimony. From there, they use sophisticated analytic techniques to ‘map’ the results, showing in a visual way where products and services can be improved.

Ian McDowell, Founder of PPM says “We’re thrilled to be working with respected usability specialists MDU on a project we believe will lead to better and more inclusive products for people living with long term conditions.”

The research is just getting underway, and first results are expected in late Summer / Early Autumn 2018. We aim to publish the findings.