As the authors of The 2016 U.S. Mobile App Report noted, a smartphone app is an important digital touchpoint and can be a helpful tool for those seeking information and resources. Many within the HIV community agree. Today, individuals can use apps to find HIV testing locations, prevention resources, information about treatment adherence, dates and locations of events, and educational materials. Many HIV health care providers also use apps to support their patients’ testing and linkage to care, and to access clinical guidelines or to support conferences.
We wanted to learn how our colleagues are using HIV conference apps so we asked Daniel Pino, communications strategist at NMAC, to give his perspective on their use and value. He shared his thoughts on apps and also told us about NMAC’s app for the upcoming 2017 U. S. Conference on AIDS (USCA), September 7-10, in Washington, DC.
HIV.gov: Why are apps useful to HIV conference organizers?
Daniel Pino: Mobile apps are modern and effective ways to engage conference attendees. They provide an increased level of personalization and engagement in conference programming and socialization. Not only that, but apps give host organizations a streamlined way to message to participants about up-to-the-minute changes, updates, and invitations to specific conference programming.
HIV.gov: When did you start offering conference apps for USCA? What have you learned over the years from conference participants’ use of and response to your apps?
Daniel Pino: Mobile apps are relatively new technologies for us—we first introduced them in 2013. However, as technology has improved and as we have analyzed user feedback over time, we have taken advantage of different interfaces. We strongly believe that this year's app is more streamlined and user-friendly than ever before to meet the expressed needs and desires of our attendees. If other HIV organizations are considering using a conference app, they can learn by taking a look at ours. They can download it from the Apple App Store (for iOS) or Google Play (Android).
HIV.gov: What lessons do you have for other HIV organizations that may be considering offering mobile apps for their events or for other purposes?
Daniel Pino: If HIV organizations want to use a mobile app for their conference, they should use it as a resource for attendees, not as a replacement for their printed program. Apps are tools that should complement a conference's program, not act as a standalone product which, if treated as such, could fail to effectively engage attendees.
HIV.gov: What does your app offer those who can't attend USCA in person?
Daniel Pino: It allows anyone who downloads it the chance to see what workshops are being held, and what exhibitors are present, we encourage all those who attend—as well as those who cannot be present—to follow the conference on social media by using a conference hashtag (#2017usca.)
Follow this blog for future tips on apps. Apps can be an important tool, if they are right for your budget, goals and audience. Other recent examples of conference apps include the April 2017 SYNC conference organized by HealthHIV, or the app for IAS 2017 convened by the International AIDS Society. For personalized help in using social media, including apps, book your (free!) Virtual Office Hours appointment.