We are a mobile patient communities App addressing the needs of patients dealing with chronic health conditions. After growing to 100k patients in the first year since launch, we are now considering options for deriving value from this user base. Short of data selling, I am wondering what are some recommendations on monetization? Would pharma or medical practices be interested in us?
You could build a data-driven chronic care management platform on top of your community. Possibly working directly with healthcare providers and payors (insurance companies). E.g. platform that has data on each patient, patient inputs pain level daily, shares what works and what doesn't, can correlate the data with patient characteristics etc. Proactively inform provider to intervene with patient to prevent debilitating pain, which means less downtime and less insurance payout. Etc. Ideally, this would be paid for by insurers looking to proactively manage end-users to reduce ultimate cost.
I think the big question here is; What exactly keeping this community engaged? What is the lifeblood and pulse here? Is the community focused on anything particular more than the other; emotional support, sharing resources, social outreach, etc... It may be all of the above, but this is a great opportunity to look at your own data for unbias trends that might reveal your next step here.
Monetization from selling your data might not be as fruitful as you might think if there is a real value to the consumer above the Healthcare systems. There might be a natural conflict of interest based on how the community uses the application. This may be a community that has a strong opposition to certain medical organizations or policies due to the fact that we are talking about 'chronic' conditions. Might not, but you can likely dive a little deeper. I think you can possibly get the best of both worlds.
I've had years of experience with an agency that specializes in Healthcare with over 2,000 hospitals and marketing for companies like Pfizer and Fair Isaccs. Let's chat briefly or post a few more details here for some additional input from the community.
B2C is tough in healthcare, many companies tend to reach a plateau at some point. If you can prove that your app helps patients to better manage their disease (by reducing their healthcare cost), you can consider talking to payers, self-insured employers, any providers in a value-based contracts, etc. who will be very interested in getting patients on your app. Even if you can't reduce hard $, if you can show ways to monitor patient behavior and/or collect social determinants of health, the same partners will be very interested in that as well since it's one of the hardest data to get.
Coming from the healthcare space, your customers' data is high risk as far as your obligations to maintain privacy. Additionally if you are hoping to drive your customers to do additional things besides what you offer them as a service now, it might hurt your primary business if they lose trust or you introduce new hurdles or interruptions.
Instead of looking at it from a "what's in it for me" perspective, how about looking at what your customers are asking for. What can you do to improve their experience, deepen their loyalty, make them champions? If you're driving adoption rates that high, I can guarantee there's someone eyeballing your market space hoping to take a slice. Stay ahead of your competitors' intelligence by deepening your relationships with your existing customers to be certain they will not switch when the new offerings start to appear.
You're already deriving value from your user base. Are you being greedy? Are you even ready to change your product to include data? Are you so secure in your core business that there's no room for improvement?
I understand there's appeal in making more money. I also know that the healthcare audience is fickle. The moment they sniff something that lowers their trust, they consider leaving. My gut feeling tells me that you are best to continue to improve the product you are currently delivering until there are no more possible improvements that you can make, and not before then should you consider a new line of business, mining data from these customers. I would wager that within the next year you will see at least two competitors appear in your space and you won't want your attentions divided when they're attempting to steal a share of the users.
You're certainly welcome to discuss what categories of data others would be interested, based on the type of information you collect. That discovery process could easily take years before you find the right buyers and right scenario. I expect it is best as an intellectual exercise for the present moment. A company as new as yours deserves a rock solid foundation before you branch out into new lines of business. You'll be grateful for that secure foundation in the not too distant future.
I believe there is value in your database
What country is the majority from?
Hey Michael, most are from the US (about 95%)
There is value, especially due to geography. Your metrics (time on app, repeat usage, install data, etc.) will drive the equation as will the clusters of conditions (are they treated by otc, pharma or therapy). I am not familiar with the space, but 100 k in a year sounds impressive.
UPDATE: I had an idea and I have a few things you can use to measure the quality of your community and start to route some direction for monetization.
Try looking for these data points:
// Can you measure and sort the number of active users by 3, 6, 9 & 12+ minutes of app use per day or per week. This would NOT be a total sum of use, but an average use per user, per engagement or session. *Any users less than 3 minutes should be discarded as active for this particular data dive.
// Can you break down your community members by 'type of chronic disease', either by specific diagnosis or by a categorization, such as Gastro, Urological, Cardiac...etc? * If not directly, try grabbing a few key word searches and possibly associate the profiles engaged in that conversation as the result. We are looking for interest in the disease and not necessarily just the afflicted.
// Can you do a specific key word or key phrase search for community conversations and topics such as "treatment", "research", "biopsy", etc... The idea here would not be to find out the overall posts for these results, but recursively bubble up to encompass the entire chain of conversation.
// How and why do you think the community grew to over 100K in the first year? We are looking for the overt benefit your app provides on a shallow and conservative level. * Somewhere in here we need to make a correlation between our results and what motivation is true or false in the way the users were acquired. 100K may be good, but if only 10K are engaged, the value for selling your data is even diluted and considered poor.
I'm stoked to see what you can come up with!
Thanks for the insight. Reducing healthcare costs is certainly one of our goals and I appreciate the info. I would love to learn a bit more on "social determinants" and how we can utilize those in creating a compelling proposition.
Sending you an invitation to connect.
@Shawn, Thanks for the awesome ideas. Statistical analytics is certainly required in this field and I am certain would help many. Let me give it some more thought and I will circle back with you for a more meaningful discussion.
Thanks for your thoughts,