What the iPad Taught Me about Patient Accessibility and Digital Health

Joshua Liu, MD

Co-founder & CEO at SeamlessMD
LinkedIn: Joshua Liu
X: @joshuapliu
Co-host: The Digital Patient Podcast
Musings and Insights

Early on in the life of SeamlessMD, we would test new UI/UX designs by going into the hospital, sitting next to patients and observing how they interacted.

Would the app be intuitive and easy to use?

I remember sitting next to an elderly patient.

I handed her a brochure with instructions on how to sign herself up for the app (this is well before we had EHR integrations and other streamlined ways to onboard patients).

She took an iPad out of her bag. I thought to myself “great, she’s tech savvy enough!”

She opened up the Apple App Store and then… got stuck.

She didn’t know her App Store password.

Despite bringing her iPad with her everywhere, she had no way of accessing our app in the first place.

My UI/UX test ended before it began. Or did it?

I asked her: why did she have an iPad if she couldn’t download new apps?

She replied: she loved using a browser to surf the Internet, and she loved checking email.

That short experience left us with a few key lessons:

1️⃣ Access to technology doesn’t tell the full story

Just because a patient technically has access to a piece of tech, that tells you nothing about how they use it.

2️⃣ Digital Health needs multi-channel support to must meet patients where they are

We needed to not only be on mobile apps, but on the web browser, email and text as well – to be accessible to as many patients as possible, in the manner in which they wish to be reached.

It’s funny because while providers would fall in love with the mobile app (at least 10 years ago when mobile health apps were very new), the reality was many patients (especially elderly ones) preferred to use our less slick web app.

3️⃣ No access = no engagement = no outcomes

Medications are only as good as adherence to taking them. But adherence doesn’t matter if patients can’t afford them.

Digital Health is only as good as engagement with it. But engagement doesn’t matter if patients can’t even login.

What lessons have you learned about health tech and patient accessibility?

The Digital Patient

The Digital Patient takes an “edu-taining” approach to all things digital patient care. On this show hosts Dr. Joshua Liu, and Alan Sardana talk with healthcare, technology, and innovation leaders about the latest advancements in digital health, trends in digital transformation, and strategies for optimizing the patient experience.