It was only a matter of time before wearable technology and content merged. We’re especially excited about the revolutionary blend of personalized content from WebMD and the Apple Watch with its medication adherence app, which launched in April of 2015. We recently spoke with the Vice President of Product Management and User Experience at WebMD, Benjamin Greenberg about the wow factor of wearables, frictionless content, and the user benefits of notification reminders.

What inspired WebMD to focus on reminders to take medication in this new app? What problem(s) do you hope to solve?

Medication adherence has long been a real issue; it’s a $290 billion problem in the U.S. It’s a problem we have long wanted to offer a solution for but it wasn’t until the Apple Watch was announced that we really said, look there’s a tool that we can use to really try to make a difference in this particular use case.

We were pretty confident we could design a really great medication reminder app, but we didn’t want to enter unless there was a way we thought we could actually win and really have something to offer the industry. With the watch, there really is this kind of micro-moment where it’s just a frictionless notification and the user can just be reminded to take their pill and really immediately tap “take” on the watch.

Content and Personalized Functionality

We’re big fans of great content and personalized features working together, especially in a new device like Apple Watch. Could you tell us a little bit about how content and personalized functionality work together in WebMD Medication Reminders?

I love that you phrased it that way because you’re really hitting the nail on the head when you start talking about content and personalization working together. If you see some of these really cool wearables that are out there, there’s a big wow factor. But you see people churn from that fairly quickly. And I think the reason is because you see the technology but you’re not getting great content based on it. There’s a bunch of numbers that say, “hey you’ve taken 10,000 steps every day,” but it’s not offering a level of value in content and personalization over and above that.

As far as content, there are two sides to it. You want to be able to provide really helpful content about let’s say whether to take a given medication with food or water and linking quickly to more information on drugs, but then you also don’t want to do content where it’s not really welcome. This is a service that people are using to be reminded about something and it’s every day for the most part so you don’t want to put a lot of cutesy text that really distracts from the facts.

New mobile devices such as Apple Watch and Google Glass remind us that the possibilities for getting the right content to the right people at the right time are better than ever. How does this trend affect your content strategy? Will we see more content-driven products mobile products?

We’re pretty careful about what we develop for. As exciting as it is we really have to focus and focus is about saying no to some things. These new devices as they come out, we really look to whether it’s going to provide real user benefit.

It can be tough to get the tone and message right in a short reminder. Tell us a little bit about how you approached the reminder and related messages. What did you consider? Did you test different approaches?

If you’re looking at a reminder like this, our testing shows that people really want very concise, short information. They’re going to be looking at it everyday and the last thing you want to do is start getting on their nerves. It’s supposed to be frictionless and that includes extraneous information in the reminders themselves. By and large over medium to long term, people just want something very basic that tells them the data that they need – namely what medication they’re supposed to take and what time to take it.

We always test. It’s not perfect, but you can definitely see in interviews with them (test subjects) afterwards the people with the kind of direct language as opposed to the more extensive reported a better experience with the messaging that’s direct.

What is your top lesson learned from creating and launching WebMD medication reminders?

We have lessons every single day; we’re learning things. We’re still sort of in the early stages of this product. It’s a marathon, not a sprint and we’re still building uses. When we launch products we like to get them out there see how users respond, iterate and see what we can do to really make it as frictionless and as usable and as delightful as possible. And then we start the marketing. And we’ve just begun to market this so we’re still looking at our data and trying to analyze trends.

The Authors

Benjamin Greenberg is the Vice President of Product Management & User Experience at WebMD.


Content Science is a growing content strategy and intelligence company and the publisher of Content Science Review. We empower digital enterprises for the content era by taking their content approach to the next level. Customers of our professional services and one-of-a-kind products (such as ContentWRX and Content Science Academy) include the Fortune 50, the world’s largest nonprofits, and the most trusted government agencies.

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