Recently we had an opportunity to speak with Louise K. Hjernø, the Head of Digital Projects at klarify.me about Klara
Please share with us the backstory of what motivated you to create this app.
The day before Christmas 2017, I went to the final interview of my dream job – the job I have today as Head of Digital Projects in ALK. At that point, ALK just formed a consumer division, klarify.me, with the aim of getting closer to allergy patients. For several years, I have lead digital projects within the healthcare area focusing on improving QoL for patients. Moreover, half of my family members suffer from allergies, making this work not only self-fulfilling but also quite personal. Prior to the interview, ALK gave me two days to create an idea for a user-centric patient initiative with the aim of making life with allergies simpler. ALK knew from the patient website Allergiecheck.de that approximately 2 million unique visitors look for pollen counts to manage their allergies during the pollen season. Existing pollen apps on the market are not personalized and they present data in a way that requires a high health literacy. ALK had this insight, findings from multiple studies, and access to best-in-market pollen- and air quality data, but with no clear concept defined. I was asked: "The air we breathe matters – where do we go from here?" I concepted the idea for an app, was hired, and then a few months later we launched the first version of Klara. Twenty percent of the world's population suffers from allergy and with Klara, we aim to offer a better future for them. Klara provides accessible information, personalized by using real world- and patient-reported data, to give unique daily allergy guidance.
What features do you hope to roll out to your app in the future?
A digital product is never 'done'. Subsequently, using the data captured from our current users together with our team of experts, we have defined and built an extensive roadmap. The intention is to continually monitor user behavior and improve the experience in an ongoing, iterative manner. As an example, in December, we launch a 'Pinterest-like' learning section with multiple articles written by a medical writer. We will continue to publish new content within topics on allergy in relation to sport, food, pregnancy, cleaning, travel etc. This way, people learn how to manage their allergies in a smarter way.
The app is built with a user first focus – road mapping new features and functionalities based on their needs. Hereafter, all features are user tested before they are released. Klara is currently available in Germany and UK and we are looking into more markets.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of the creation of this app?
Spending 8 months so far on building and further developing this app has been a rewarding project. We could see an instant user impact from the day we launched the first small version of the app in May 2018. During the 2018 pollen season, engagement rate in the app was much higher compared to other apps in the same category. Klara received very positive reviews and a 4.8/5 rating in App Store and Google Play. Additionally, our patient engagement manager performed multiple user tests during the project, which resulted in solely positive feedback. We cannot wait to release all our new features in December and start seeing a bigger impact in the spring when the pollen season kicks in.
What is the coolest or most innovative feature of your app?
No doubt, it is the personalization features! Users can log how affected they are by their allergies, which instantly adjusts their 'today's insight'. To take the personalization up a notch, users can see the correlation between their logs and the actual, specific pollen count of that day. This means you do not 'just' know that you were affected during the tree pollen season and not the grass season. You know: when e.g. birch or hazel counts are high, you are triggered the most! To further personalize the app, Klara is location-based via a Google map API and an accurate mapping algorithm that we developed. It means that users do not see the average pollen count for their region, but the pollen count from the pollen trap nearest their actual location. The app also allows users to switch location and check the pollen- and/or air quality forecasts of a different city they might go to. Moreover, the "Activities today" feature helps users to decide what indoor- and outdoor activities to do. It takes today's pollen count, air quality level, and the users' specific location into account.
What surprised you most in your journey to create this app?
We learned that when it comes to a bothersome, chronic disease, users have a high interest in using the features and engaging. Also, we were surprised how well different types of push notifications and pop-ups worked. They had a much higher engagement rate than expected. We thought some features would only be of interest for really, really interested users wanting to know more.
Which other mobile apps or technology have inspired you?
Regarding features and technology, we looked at +40 apps within this space from different countries and asked multiple allergy sufferer what they currently use and what they like and miss. There're a lot of great apps out there, but none of them had it all - or at least what we found matters for an allergy sufferer to be well equipped. The design, we put in the hands of the amazing ustwo designer, Tobias Arréhn, who created a playful and engaging, yet clean design.
Do you have any recommendations or advice for others wanting to create a mobile app?
I could not have lead this project without the right team of experts. Hereby I do not only mean great designers, UX'ers, and developers. I mean, I could not have done this without an allergy company behind. So my advice is: if you want to build a health-related app, you need to involve knowledgeable, specialized people and then: do not build your app for users, but with the actual users involved. Finally, do constant user testing!!!
How did you decide which platforms to release your app on and do you plan on releasing your app to other platforms?
Klara's features are very helpful both on the go and when you want to learn more. It was a natural choice to make a react native smartphone app for both iOS and Android. This way Klara is with you all the time. Our soon-to-be-released article section will work really well on a bigger screen. So we expect our tablet downloads will increase from the current 7%. Everything we develop can actually be used on our allergy site klarify.me, so we're planning to add what is relevant to that platform.
How is your app different than the rest of the market? Which unique need does it fill?
In contrast to many health apps, we chose to work with an agency that is truly user-centric. We worked with ustwo, who is the creator of the game Monument Valley. We wanted a unique user interface and world-class UX. Klara is easy and intuitive to use and presents insights in a very understandable way. To personalize the app experience, we process pollen-, air quality-, weather-, and user data through algorithms, mapping, and machine-learning. The better Klara gets to know the user, the more personalized and smarter the app becomes.
The unique need it fills is that allergy sufferers get it all in one app. They get today's pollen count and the real-time air quality level at their fingertips. They can quickly deep dive into 3-day forecasts for both or explore the allergy season calendar. We also display weather information. As such, allergy sufferers can use it in a moment of crisis to check the current levels in their exact location to better manage their allergies on the go. They can use the actionable features and plan their activities - or get 'allergy life hacks' from the daily, seasonal tips & facts. Furthermore, it allows the users to learn more about the link between pollen count, air quality, and weather.
You can view Klara here
For more information, visit: https://app.klarifyme.de/uk