Monthly Archives: July 2012

Get to Know: Fooducate

Fooducate is an application that scans the barcode of various grocery items and then tells you the nutritional value and other facts regarding the item. The website claims that there are over 200,000 unique product searches, and you can add additional ones if you come across something not in the database. The application is easy to use, and oftentimes insightful. Perhaps not for those on the grab-and-go, but for those motivated enough to change their diet, this little app can certainly help with making better food choices.

The website is very easy to use and search for products, as seen below:


The application is just as user friendly, with a bar code scanner for searching products on the go. Scanned items automatically go on the history tab and you can easily put items on a shopping list.


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Thoughts: Who Health App Companies Should Target — Get Doc’s On Board

Whenever I evaluate a business, regardless of industry, my first few questions are always centered around:


1) Industry: What is the size of the addressable market? Who are the major players in the space? Is the market relatively fragmented? What are the near term growth or expansion opportunities?

2) Sales: How does this business make money? (i.e. free application that gets paid based on advertisement revenue, software as a service, subscription model, paid upgrades, etc.)

3) Audience: Who is paying for this software / buying this item and how difficult is it to acquire each additional user?


In addition to the WSJ article, Mitchell released a poll last week that Baby Boomers are more likely to download and purchase health apps when recommended by a doctor. This of course sounds very reasonable, but should also send a lightbulb to healthcare companies regarding who they should market to — get doctors on board, and soon patient users will follow.

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Thoughts: The Slow Growth of Health Apps

A good friend of mine, Kevin, sent me this article late last week: Why Aren’t We Downloading Health Apps?

The article mentions a stat from The Washington Post citing that “while 88% of Americans have a cell phone, only 10% have downloaded health-related mobile apps.”

Health apps are a great way for people to get involved with preventative activities such as fitness and dieting. As chronic condition applications (such as diabetes management) and medication reminders become more prevalent, hopefully the use of health apps will become more popular as well. Of course this isn’t a market that can compete in usage volume with gaming or music apps, but the importance can’t be missed.

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Get to Know: The Eatery — Make Eating a Social Experience

A lot of consumer health websites target dieting, calorie counting, and fitness. The Eatery focuses on sharing your food choices with friends and getting their feedback on your meal. It’s not a calorie counter – it’s a big picture application that shows your eating habits over time.

What I also like is that the app can track what you eat at various places. For foodies who like to take quick pictures of their meal and share it with friends, this is the perfect way to diary your dining and cooking experiences.

There is also a “healthy” meter where you can grade your food choice. The meter was created with the intention of getting you back on track and eating well after a slightly less healthy derailment, although it is unknown if more people are inclined to just give up once their health score reaches a low enough point, leading them to eat poorly for the rest of the week.

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*Consumer Spotlight describes non-healthcare focused websites that give customers a wonderful user experience.*

Healthcare sites shouldn’t be shy about using tried and true layouts and marketing techniques used by companies in other industries.

Rent the Runway does an amazing job in making renting designer dresses easy and affordable.

The homepage is concise and makes sense. Customers can easily see that the site is easy to use (reminiscent of more mature websites like Sephora, Zappos, Piperlime). There is a credible personality advocating the product (healthcare companies can use customer quotes to easy give off a similar effect), and for those potential customers who are new to the site, there is a link on the front page to tell them more about the service.

You should also note that I have been a member (signed up for emails) since August 2011 and this is my first time making a purchase. What got me over the edge? A $50 off coupon in an email as a birthday gift and finally an upcoming event I can give this a shot at.

1) Heading Bar: Easy  and familiar lay out consumers are used to – this site “makes sense.”
2) Give the Audience a Purpose: A few data points (date of rental and size) are all that is needed to get the customer deeper into the site.
3) Give Credibility: Popular / well-known star power gives credibility to the service.
4) Rule # 1— Don’t Make the Customer Feel Stupid: Don’t know how to use the site? It’s okay, here is where you can learn more about it.


1) Sort: Help the customer find what they want quickly. The filter here can be changed by: Size, Price, Color, Length, Trend, Body Type, Occasion, Sleeve, Neckline, Age, Style, Designer.
2) Relevance: Again, making the list more relevant and more tailored to the client is always better.
3) “Heart” feature differentiates what you like from what is actually put in your shopping bag. Gets customers to have many “hearted” outfits, from which they will more likely chose the perfect one. Also gives the customer the freedom to commit to a dress when they chose to do so, and to save favorites for another time.


1) Average Rating: Gets me comfortable with the dress and there are photos I can make larger and scroll through of real wearers.
2) Customer traits: Megan and I are close in body type and she a) loved the dress and b) I can actually see how it fit on her since she uploaded a photo. Now I feel like I know a real woman who tried on the dress and loved it.


1) Always pitch value add! For RTR, pitching accessories to go with a dress seems obvious. For Apple it might be pitching a car charger for your new iphone purchase. For a healthcare company it might be pitching a scale to go with your sleepmonitor.


I’ve discussed before why making the checkout process two slides rushes first-time customers and causes them to bail before making their first purchase, such as with InsideTracker.

So, why does it work here? Firstly, I have a guarantee on the dress. Secondly, I have a promo code so I’m mentally “getting a deal,” and lastly I feel that I know enough about the Company and through all the customer reviews to rent this dress with no suspicion that the Company will do me wrong.

1) This financial incentive is hardly ever used by healthcare consumer companies. Not a bad idea!

Tips for Rent the Runway (What I think would make it even better!):

1) The ability to download a calendar invite into my Gmail and Outlook on the date of my dress return, including directions on how to return, would be helpful. Then I don’t have to dig through my email and I get a calendar reminder.
2) Rent the Runway is centered towards women, but think about options for men: Renting watches, ties / bow ties, belts might also be a great option. My friend bought a $170 tie for a wedding last year and he hasn’t worn it once since then.
3) Let me automatically post on Pinterest what my outfit looks like. No better way to generate some interest to RTR and show everyone my designer outfit.
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Get to Know: LUMOback

Today’s Get to Know is on posture. You have probably been told (or have told someone) to stand up taller or sit up straighter. LUMOback is a wearable device and iPhone application that tracks your posture and gives you a light buzz when you aren’t practicing good posture. Bad posture isn’t just for teenagers trying to be cool— habitual sitting in front of a computer at work can also lead to serious back issues. WebMD states that 80% of Americans have back pain at some point in their lives, and this device is trying to bring that percentage down.

LUMOback recently raised funding through the crowdfunding website, Kickstarter, and the sensor is currently available for pre-order.

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HealthTap: Old vs. New Website

What a difference a week can make! I started this post before my birthday and came back to an entirely redesigned HealthTap website! Lucky for you, we can take an in-depth look at the design changes to the website. This will be a long post, but stay with me.

As you read on, look for a couple key things: (i) the site shifts to a more “mature” design and targets a more “mature” audience, (ii) there is a clear path for HealthTap to make money, and (iii) the design keeps the social media aspect of the site.

Let’s check out the OLD first, and then the new.


1) Jump In: Very easy to interact with the website.
2) About Us: Video about company or customer referrals would be great here.
3) Sign up: Placement not in-line with box 1 bothers the eye.
4) About us: Make this interactive; if you have 10,000 licensed physicians, maybe scroll through their photos or expand this section to have more detail. This makes it look like there are only 10 doctors.


1) Simple Nomenclature: Simple is better!
2) Wayfinding: Help people understand where they are and where to read next. Interesting that they decided to go with a more “follow the path” route rather than a straight down block format. Make the gray line a shade darker so the eye can actually follow the path.
3) Video should be on front page. Make the customer do less searching to find it!

Also note, there is great uniformity in the structure of all the pages, making it easy to follow.


1) Eyetracking: where does the eye go first? Every page has a sign up place, so why not make this part of the page instead of looking like an annoying pop-up? Having a sign-up section on every page is also good for data analytics. HealthTap can see which pages lead to clicking on “sign up” the most.
2) Wording: Key choice of using the word “member” and not customer, client, or patient.


1) Consistency: You have to give it to them for consistency – the sign up bar is everywhere…even on the sign up page!
2) Call To Action: Good placement of information on the app. More downloads of the app will mean more user compliance to the site.
3) Facebook Connect: Facebook connect seems to be everywhere and it’s a good thing to have. However, I’d like to know what percent of users actually go this route. I’d venture to guess—not many. With limited information on how question postings work, and no sentence telling me my information won’t be posted directly to Facebook, I am cautious. I would rather not have an embarrassing question be posted on my wall like a Spotify song.


1) User Map: Always important to tell your customers where they are in the sign up process, especially if it is a lengthy one.
2) Level Up!: A points system is interesting. However HealthTap isn’t a game and incorporating a “gaming” aspect may not work well. I wonder if you can buy “points,” wouldn’t be a bad idea.


Why is this page so user friendly and familiar? Because likely you’ve already seen this! Using conceptual models users are already familiar with will make users more easily adapt to your site and HealthTap does this well.

1) Facebook: Taking the activity feed idea and making it pertinent to your health
2) Twitter: Follow doctors like you would on twitter, similar to friending on Facebook
3) LinkedIn/Gaming: Similar to LinkedIn’s “profile completeness” percentage

Success Metrics: HealthTap is tracking (for a site this sophisticated they must be!) the average “ask a doctor” requests per person, number of doctor “follows”/person, and amount of health points/person. These success metrics will help HealthTap assign goals for customer consistency and retention. This data can also be used to encourage doctors and programs to sign up. Metrics are very important and all websites should have them. Data collection is often the most important thing at the end of the day.



1) Tiny Text: “About” is tiny and lonely in plain text. I would make it a bubble like Log In and Sign Up and put it on the far right of the heading bar.
2) Video: Thank you! The video to learn more about HealthTap pops up when you click Learn More. This is also a brand new video! Instead of popsicle stick, ambiguous test tube looking people, cartoon people are used.
3) Scrolling: Questions and answers scroll at the bottom and you can click on them to see the full question and answers. This is much more descriptive and helpful!


1) Static Bar: The static bar looks more professional and still catches your eye at the top of every page.
2) Blocking: You can see how distinctly blocked this is—the flowy path is no longer used.


The sign up pages are much cleaner and the colors are more mature and subdued.

1) Four simple steps instead of five:
     i) Still Improve Your Case: A tiny bit of background is needed
     ii) Personalize Your Answers: Ask as many specific questions for doctors as you would like
     iii) Find the Best Doctors: More to follow and the interface is a lot cleaner
     iv) Connect Directly With Physicians: You can search for and connect with your own doctor
2) Duplication: Notifies the member how far along they are even though the top part does as well. This infers that HealthTap generally looses some interest along the way and is now more focused on getting the member through the activation steps.


Don’t fix what is not broken.

1) Facebook
2) Twitter
3) LinkedIn/Gaming

I’m a big fan of HealthTap because I think it can give me a better indication of what my aliments are, before I go to see a doctor. Also, for a fee, I can send a doctor a specific and direct message (HIPAA compliant and private). Technology is surely changing the world.

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Get to Know: HealthVault, CakeHealth, Simplee

I received an email yesterday from a reader mentioning that he would like to see less posts on the user experience, and more introducing cool healthcare companies. Swallowing the urge to write back, “you’ve missed the POINT of my blog,” I’ve decided to add a “Get to Know” bucket where I’ll briefly introduce a few neat websites. After all, there are hundreds of consumer focused healthcare websites and whether I spend the time to examine the websites in detail or not, I would like to share them with you. So yes, as stubborn as I am, I will acknowledge when a good suggestion is made.

Today’s Get to Know is on organizing your medical expenses and tracking your meds and doctor visits. I’m sure many of you use Mint or Quicken to consolidate your bank accounts and recurring bill payments, or at the very least you log on to your various bank websites to pay off monthly bills. Now there are companies that do the same thing but for your medical expenses– i.e. dentist, doctor, pharmacy, medical insurance, etc.

About a year ago, Google disabled Google Health. Citing that the application targeted too small of a demographic (only tech-savvy patients and their caregivers), Google urged people to download their medical data and transfer it to Microsoft’s HealthVault. Check out some other up and coming firms that are also doing personal medical expense management and health information tracking/sharing.

Microsoft’s HealthVault (HealthVault) has some upstanding qualities. You can upload data from multiple fitness and health tracking devices into HealthVault (such as Withings). You can also track prescriptions and manage family prescriptions by connecting HealthVault directly to your pharmacy (such as CVS and Walgreens). Additionally, you can check your drug regimen for any negative drug interactions your doctor may have missed. And, if you have a chronic disease, you can link HealthVault to your glucometer, blood pressure monitor, etc., and deliver that information directly to your healthcare provider. Microsoft HealthVault is designed to get all your medical records in one place for you and your family. What the system lacks is a way for you to pay your medical bills through the user dashboard – however, some medical record systems, such as Greenway, are starting to integrate with HealthVault so you can do just that. It will be interesting to see what HealthVault transforms into in the near future.

CakeHealth (CakeHealth) is aiming to better streamline your health insurance billing and payment experience. The Company rolled out a redesigned website last month and is growing fast. Unfortunately the young company hasn’t connected with too many insurance companies yet so my personal dashboard doesn’t give a great showcase of what they have to offer, but it’s only a matter of time. There is also currently no way to directly pay your bills online.

Simplee (Simplee) is a great tool to compile you and your family’s healthcare records and bills into one easy to understand online dashboard. You can pay your medical bills through the Simplee website and also see exactly what each health plan covers. Simplee also cross-checks your bills vs. your plan to make sure you aren’t being wrongly charged. The site is easy to understand and demystifies questions regarding deductibles, co-pays and other ‘insurance jargon.’

The Company has been around longer than CakeHealth and currently works with a much broader range of health insurance companies, including my health/vision and dental plans. However, for this and CakeHealth, the system is only as perfect as those companies that report to it. It looks like I never paid for a doc visit in April but after cross checking with my credit card statement, I did pay for it. This is likely an issue with my insurance company / healthcare provider’s accounts receivable and not with Simplee.

Managing healthcare expenses is important especially with rising costs and an uncertain economy. Hopefully some of these sites might be useful for you.

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