How In-Application Health Education Means a Better User Experience

Steven Franklin, Product Marketing Manager

Healthcare is well known for complex interactions, mountains of data, and a short time to process it all. Creating a great experience means creating tools that both embrace complexity and are easy to use.


User experience, or UX, describes how people use your product. Traditionally UX has included things like navigation, look and feel, and workflow efficiency. But the definition of UX is expanding to include not just the product itself, but everything around it. For healthcare applications, UX all boils down to the essential question: Can users solve the health problems they face with minimal interactions?

Here’s what makes UX so important in healthcare:

  • 78% of healthcare consumers place a high importance on their experience yet have only a 53% level of satisfaction1.
  • Companies with better design (and UX) practices traditionally see higher revenue growth and financial performance than companies with poor design habits2.
  • 45% of U.S. online adults say they learn about their health by conducting personal research online, compared to 35% who learn through interactions with healthcare professionals3.

Because UX encompasses the entire experience, UX in healthcare means that a medical technology device or application needs more than just a nice design. Of course the users—whether patients or clinicians—want a smooth experience, but the technology also must address their entire experience and give them answers to the health problems they’re experiencing in real life.

Enter: health education

For some health solutions and applications, in-app patient educational content is the missing piece that provides a full picture.

For example, a fitness tracking app that provides activity data might solve the initial problem of gathering and displaying data about fitness activities, such as type of activity, duration, and number of calories burned.

But does it really help the user gain a deep understanding of how to live their healthiest life? They now know they’ve walked 1.73 miles in 23 minutes, burning 193 calories. Okay, now what? What do they do as the next step?

This is where content comes in, and why a great UX needs contextual education content. Education content does not have to come directly from health providers. Instead, it should come from wherever patients are engaging with data and information about their health—and that includes medical devices or applications like fitness trackers.

Why content matters so much to UX

Health Education can drive UX that increases user satisfaction and retention. It might be a differentiating factor in whether the device or application actually gets used, and that can determine which product a hospital chooses to purchase for its patients or clinicians.

But while 87% of marketers say they are delivering an engaging customer experience, that’s not what consumers say, according to a study from Acquia4. The reality is quite the opposite.

“Nearly half (49%) of consumers say brands they engage with don’t meet their expectations for a good experience,” the Acquia study notes. “Unsurprisingly, when asked about the last time a brand exceeded their expectations, even fewer consumers responded positively. Among the consumers we polled, 66% say they can’t remember the last time a brand exceeded their expectations. This sentiment rang true regardless of geographical boundaries, with consumers in every country surveyed largely agreeing with the statement.”

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that patients will search for what they think they need, and that information must be easy to find, reliable, and trustworthy. If users don’t get the information they need when and where they need it, they’ll go looking for it—possibly to an internet site of dubious quality with untrustworthy, unverified information. From 2008 to 2017, the internet was the most frequently used source of health information, with physician or health care provider consistently emerging as the second most frequent source5.

Providing health information within your application instead of sending users to the internet is a better UX. You give users reliable, accurate information inside your app or software.

How your company can leverage personalized education content

Fortunately, developers of medical devices or applications like you have a great advantage: You already have data that allows you to personalize the user experience. That’s an ideal situation many companies aren’t able to leverage.

Let’s think of ways that fitness application could provide a better UX by leveraging useful education related to the data. Examples:

  • Recommending other health activities users might enjoy
  • Promoting safety while participating in the user’s favorite activities
  • Suggesting healthy eating strategies to complement chosen activities

But how do you apply content to UX best practices to provide patient education content in the application? You could use something like Peter Morville’s “Honeycomb” method to leverage content into a great UX6. His “honeycomb” of six factors that work together provides a framework to consider the holistic UX—which, in turn, leads to value for both patients and clinicians.


  1. Is it useful? Ensure that the application is the most useful it can be—and it can be made more useful with content. You can use the data that you already have to target health education.
  2. Is it usable? Does the education content you provide give users actionable next steps? Remember that useful and usable are not synonymous. Integrating content that's specifically written both for improving understanding and motivating to act is the key to being usable.
  3. Is it findable? The application or device needs to be structured so it’s easy to find the contextual information—or users will find another alternative that’s easier.
  4. Is it credible? Make sure users can trust the health education you offer by integrating content from a proven, trusted author.
  5. Is it accessible? Ensure the information is useful to users of varying abilities, not just ones who understand medical terminology. Conversely, users don’t want to be talked down to, either. Use content that’s written at levels anyone can understand and made available in a number of methods including video, text, and illustrations.
  6. Is it desirable? Integrating target content is a great way to build desirability, because the user can personalize the experience. By integrating content, users develop a deeper connection to the application and see it as an important piece of their healthcare journey.

An application or device provides data. The right integrated content refines that data into information. Combined, the result is meaningful, actionable knowledge that the users of your device or application can use to improve their lives.