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Best practices for onboarding users on a healthcare app

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Designing a good onboarding experience is as important as making first impressions. 

If you get it right in the beginning, the rest of the journey becomes easier.

A good user onboarding shares information or instructions to help the user understand the application. When a user logs in for the first time, a good onboarding experience becomes the guiding light to ease users into the product’s experience. In some applications, it can be a simple explanation of what the app does while in others, it can be a series of guided actions for users to complete. 

The important thing to remember is that an onboarding experience should have explicit actions for users to understand and perform. A good onboarding experience doesn’t leave anything to assumptions.

One of my colleagues wrote about how to excel at designing a great onboarding a while ago. Taking inspiration from that blog, I want to further talk about creating an exceptional onboarding experience for healthcare applications.

Why specifically healthcare? Because it’s a complex domain that needs special attention.

To understand the complexity, let’s take a look at the below example.

A while ago, I was browsing through Google PlayStore for a weight loss app. I downloaded the first one that appeared on the top results. Just as download completed, the app opened and displayed an empty state dashboard. I scrolled to understand if I missed the onboarding but later figured out that there wasn’t any.

I spent time understanding how I can set up weight loss goals and create a customized view for myself. It took me more time than I wanted to spend and I wasn’t happy with the app already. But still, I wanted to give it a chance. After a few hours, my phone chimed. The notification on my phone read–

“Remember to drink water.” 

It was a good reminder but I was surprised that this feature existed in the app. I wondered what else the app could do? Can I set the frequency of these reminders? Can I remove these reminders? Can it count my calorie intake?

I wasn’t ready to deep dive for these answers in the app again. So I uninstalled it. Later I downloaded another app that had the same features, but with a great onboarding. 

So what things need to be kept in mind while designing onboarding for healthcare applications?

Decide crucial features in the app

Decide crucial features in the app

The onboarding screens should talk about the most important features of the application. If you have 20 features, pick 5 for the onboarding and explain in great detail how users can access them to achieve their goals. Leave room for users to explore the rest of the features.

Those five features should address users’ questions about what problems the app is solving, what solutions (features) are included in the app to solve this problem and what are some unique features that separate this app from others in the market.

Earn users’ trust

Earn users’ trust

People who use health and wellbeing apps are likely to have trust issues in sharing their personal information. Onboarding is the right place to earn their trust. 

  • Ask for just the essential details.
  • While asking for personal details, explain why you need it and share how you’ll use it.
  • Give them an assurance that their information is safe with you. Direct them to your privacy policy so that they feel in control of their information.

Keep onboarding steps minimal

Keep onboarding steps minimal

If onboarding requires users to do a lot of pre-setup, then make sure you divide the entire process into small steps. Allow users to save their progress and resume from where they left. Show them where they are in the onboarding process and give them an option to go back and forth, if they want to make some changes.

For example, if you’re building an AI healthcare chatbot that requires users to complete a health assessment, divide it into small chunks so that users don’t feel overwhelmed filling that information.

Use clear and concise language 

Use clear and concise language 

Onboarding needs to be in a simple and easy to understand language. If you use technical language or complex sentences, users might skip reading the instructions. 

An example is-

‘Lucid Reality Free trial allows you to set up your sleep goals and maintain a journal. To explore more features, switch to the premium version.’

This messaging ensures that the users are aware of what features are included in the free membership and how they can have full access to the application.

Allow users to customize their view

Allow users to customize their view

Customization is a great way to improve the user experience of an application. Especially healthcare applications where each user has different health goals and needs different treatment. 

For example, if you’re building a healthcare education platform, the design must provide users an option to pick their interest areas.

Choose social sign-in carefully

Choose social sign-in carefully

Social sign in is a great way to improve the onboarding experience. But in healthcare applications, it can be a way to compromise on data security. Especially in PHI applications where sensitive data is stored. So, based on your functionality, decide whether you want a social sign-in or not. 

To offer a frictionless experience, allow users to skip social onboarding and provide an alternate way to complete onboarding by a different method. 

Nonetheless, if you decide to use social apps, make sure you inform users, which all data will be stored and what information will be accessible by the social media platform.


Healthcare apps have one job- to take away the pain of its end users and make their lives easier. Always keep this thought in mind while designing the onboarding process. It will not only help you be more empathetic but will also help your users stay motivated, and complete the tasks they want to complete.

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