Medicom Health Interactive has been creating online health risk awareness tools for over ten years. Our clients include the American Heart Association and most major pharmaceutical and biotech companies. One of our health risk tools was even linked to a Superbowl ad! We’ve learned a lot about how to build effective risk tools—including knowing that getting them right takes lots of effort, skill, and knowledge!
So what does make a health risk tool effective?
Engage the User
The first challenge is how to engage users right from the start. Since it only takes one click to bail out of the health risk tool, first impressions are essential. The first page has to clearly communicate what the health risks are and what they will learn after answering the health-related questions. Value must be established on the first screen and reinforced throughout all subsequent screens.
By beginning a health risk tool, the user is making a tentative commitment to trying it out. He or she is immediately deciding that the time involved is worth the effort. This decision can be changed at any time—the exit is only one click away! This makes it particularly important to:
- Ask the minimum number of questions needed to evaluate health risk
- Make sure that the questions are relevant
- Give an indication of how many questions are left so that users can see their progress
- Keep the questions short and simple
Make it Easy
A health risk tool needs to be easy to understand. If the user can’t understand the tool, he or she is not going to finish it! Some techniques include:
- Providing easy, simple navigation
- Avoiding medical jargon whenever possible
- Carefully and simply defining or explaining any medical terms that do have to be used (such as “cholesterol” or “blood pressure”)
- Explaining risk in a way that is easy to understand and meaningful to the user
- Writing text for fast and easy readability (aim for 5th to 8th grade level)
- Using graphics whenever possible to illustrate key concepts (a picture is worth a thousand words!)
Some places where graphics can be used include:
- Simple explanations of terms and concepts
- Summaries of the information that the user entered
- Results and explanations of the user’s risk
- Printed reports to review later or to take to the doctor
Provide a Clear Call to Action
A health risk tool should always end with a clear call to action. Now that the user has his or her results, what should be done next? A typical call to action is to print out a summary of the risk tool results and then discuss it with the physician. The purpose of the discussion is to review the user’s risk factors and find out what can be done about them.
Use Evidence-based Medicine for Results and Information
Health risk tools should be based on the latest research and medical guidelines. Anything less is a disservice to the users. There is a constant stream of new research and guideline revisions, so it is important to keep the information current when developing health risk tools. In addition, the printed results with from the risk tool will have much greater credibility with the user’s physician.
Provide Follow-up Information to Potential Patients
As you can see, a great deal of thought and planning go into making an effective health-risk tool. Building a successful health-risk tool is a lot more complicated than it first seems. But the rewards of a large number of successful completions are great, both for the person learning valuable personal health information and for the sponsoring organization through enhanced connections with high-risk individuals who may need their services.
We can help you connect effectively to your customers. Contact us to find out how.