Apps That Pay Attention

by Todd J. Fisher, Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Apps That Pay Attention

Steve Krug’s article, “Don’t Make Me Think” brings up a long-standing obstacle with apps, especially relevant in the healthcare space: thinking requires cognitive effort - focused attention. In today’s noisy world of apps designed to grab and hold the user’s attention to push personalized ads, screaming “pay attention to me!” there is an enormous opportunity to consider the criteria that make apps useful from the patient’s perspective.  In doing so, we find quite quickly that there is great opportunity by deploying beneficial, useful apps that free patients to allocate their attention as they see fit.  Eyedog’s Photo Landmark Navigation solution is just such an app.   

Eyedog uniquely promises minimal extra thinking is required to benefit from the apps purpose: aiding patients with exceptional indoor navigation.  Apps can be of value - great value - without stealing every ounce of attention users have available.  In the healthcare context in particular, patients and their families have much on their minds - most importantly the purpose for the visit. 

In economics parlance, Eyedog’s wayfinding app requires a minimum amount of attention to provide the desired functionality, thereby optimizing the patient’s attention resource allocation, which is determined by the patient’s conscious and intentional assessment of immediate priorities and the freedom to choose accordingly. In other words, what matters most to the patient in any given moment aligns with what the patient chooses to focus on at that moment.  Anything less than that represents an unintentional and irretrievable patient attention spend. In essence, the patient is forced to expend a portion of valuable attention with no benefit, or in economic terms, no return.

An app for indoor navigation must not require attention be paid as a surcharge to get started.  Installing an app, waiting for the install and download, fidgeting with the app settings, learning unfamiliar symbols and legends all to get started depletes the attention reserve without adding an ounce of value. It is startup capital, burned with no value creation. 

Progressive Web Apps, like Eyedog, don’t require that attention up front, and that matters when we want to assist patients and visitors without borrowing their attention first. The difference between the attention required without the app and the attention paid to the app should come with zero overhead and end with a surplus, not a deficit. Attention is a scarce resource. Apps that require attention without providing equal or greater value in return are wasteful. The scarce attention resource burned as overhead is gone forever and cannot be recovered. 

Read the full article here.