District Health top 5: Top tips for app developers from the KTN

At a recent District Health event, Sue Dunkerton, Director of The Knowledge Transfer Network, spoke about her role in inspiring innovation in a wide range of businesses, including health tech. In this article she shares some top tips for app developers working in health and behaviour change.


  1. Know your user and question your assumptions.

Don’t just rely on your intuition and assumptions about how your chosen demographic behave. For example, the over 65s have a reputation for tech aversion, but is it based on fact? In reality, mobile uptake amongst the older generation is growing. Ageing and assisted living are priority areas for the Knowledge Transfer Network and Innovate UK because it is clear that we are facing tremendous challenges and opportunities due to an ageing global population.


  1. Know the market.

Knowing where money is spent now will show you where investments might be targeted to increase productivity or reduce costs. Chronic diseases, which often require some self management – account for 75-85% of global healthcare spending.


  1. Know your limits as a developer and/or business founder.

The desire to embed research data in your app is a good instinct. There are institutions (such as the Farr Institute) that can help you to make sense of research information to make your product more effective. You might be interested in going to the Farr Institute’s first international conference in August 2015.


  1. Don’t stop at developing your app. Think about how to create sustained use.

Implementation and uptake of your app isn’t just about sales. Getting people to use your app on a regular and sustained basis is important to realise a benefit to public health. Understand how and why people use health apps and you will be a step closer.


  1. Connect to IC Tomorrow to capture funding opportunities.

IC Tomorrow runs regular funding contests, which are focused on various priority areas. Funding in the region of £25-35k can help your business get a new product off the ground. These are big enough pots of money to make real progress in developing your app.

About Colby Benari

Colby has been running District Health since the summer of 2013. Her background is in biomedical science and support of academic research infrastructure.

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