Interview With Jeff Bonar, Totally Pregnant: Patient Engagement, Digital Health

Jeff Bonar, CEO, Totally Pregnant 

Here are all the details summarized in the NJII Innoviation center article at https://njii.com/2019/10/22/interview-with-jeff-bonar-ceo-founder-totally-pregnant/.

What is your viewpoint on how hospitals are engaging with patients?

The healthcare industry is significantly lacking in effective engagement with patients —, particularly millennial patients. If there is a real health crisis, then a patient will put up with any amount of bureaucracy and institutional arrogance because they are sick and really want to get better.

Millennials are a younger cohort and generally healthy. For most millennials, their first major medical interaction will be having a baby. Most maternity “patients” are healthy. They want to do the right thing for their developing baby, but they are not going to put up conventional medical aloofness. They want to be engaged.

How do you define engagement?  What makes meaningful engagement in the healthcare industry?

Any meaningful impact on outcomes needs to start with engagement. If folks do not use your intervention/app/tech, then it is not going to work no matter how effective it is in theory. 

I define engagement broadly. First, you need to get your patient’s attention. This starts with letting them know your healthcare services exist. It must include outreach to find new people and offer them something. That outreach needs to establish a personality and presence. Most businesses call this managing their brand — most healthcare organizations do not put attention to that. This is a huge mistake, particularly when engaging millennials. Just having a nice website or logo is insufficient for folks who are not going to your website. You need to get their attention before they are a patient.

The second part of engagement is making sure the healthcare educational content is fun and friendly. Millennials expect videos and short “get to the point” content bites. Even today, most healthcare organizations are handing out paper educational material. Often this material is merely photocopies of photocopies, of photocopies — material that has lived on through the ages. No videos, not fun, bland and boring. Medical accuracy can be fun and exciting.

The third part of engagement is creating a community. Helping patients find other people going through the same healthcare situations and helping them network. Modern users are looking to be part of a community, with interactive communication with peers (other patients) as well as healthcare professionals.

A term heavily in use in healthcare marketing is “digital health.”  How does this tie into engagement?

The current state of “digital health” underlines the huge gap in engagement. Just the name “digital health” puts the focus on the technology rather than engaging with the patient. We propose a better name is “Social Health”. The next thing wrong with most of the digital health technology is that focuses on people with serious health conditions that are already patients. Why not focus on people who may have a condition but it is not yet serious? Why not provide outreach to people who don’t yet need your services but might sometime in the future? Why not help connect with other organizations in the community that can provide synergistic healthcare services? Why not help people find others with the same health conditions.

What is Totally Pregnant?

Totally Pregnant provides healthcare organizations with a fun, friendly, engaging pregnancy app that can be customized and branded by those customers. The app works together with our social media outreach into our customer’s service area.

Key features of our App:

  • The app is promoted on Instagram and Facebook feeds within our customer’s service areas. Our customers are typically reaching 1000s of new potential patients each month with a specific brand message. Note that 30% of the people that install our app are not yet pregnant. This is a huge opportunity to make an impression on a potential patient that has not yet made decisions about their maternity healthcare providers.
  • The name, visuals, and app store presence can be customized to the strengths of each customer and the brand they want to present.
  • Hospitals can create a brand message and focus.
  • All content in our app changes for each week of the pregnancy. There are 3-5 videos our users can watch each week — these are the most popular part of the app. Hospitals can brand their videos along with the ones we provide. Every time the app is used it has new content and new information that can be digested quickly and easily.
  • Our app is used for a few minutes at a time, sometimes 4 times per week. Waiting in line for a coffee – watch a video. Waiting for a meeting to start, read an article about preparing for delivery. The app is built around how people live and learn.

How are your Hospital Customers Using the App

  • One of our hospital customers has the lowest C-Section rate in their region. Their app not only promotes that, but they include their own educational video to help potential patients understand why they want to avoid a C-section. 
  •  Another customer promotes their 24-7 breastfeeding hotline. 
  • A third customer promotes their relationship with a local religious leader and the healthcare support services that his church provides to moms and young children. 
  • Another customer promotes their post-partum support services.
  • All content in our app changes for each week of the pregnancy. There are 3-5 videos our users can watch each week — these are the most popular part of the app. Hospitals can brand their videos along with the ones we provide. Every time the app is used it has new content and new information that can be digested quickly and easily.

  • Our app is used for a few minutes at a time, sometimes 4 times per week. Waiting in line for a coffee – watch a video. Waiting for a meeting to start, read an article about preparing for delivery. The app is built around how people live and learn.

How do digital tools play a role in health care today that hospitals need to be aware of?

As digital tools get smarter, more personal, and more intimate (watches, monitoring devices, Virtual Reality, etc.) healthcare organizations will need to get better at using these tools to create connections with patients. They need to move beyond just focusing on medical interventions for seriously ill patients.

For more information, visit Totally Pregnant today!