One of the most frustrating aspects of mobile health applications offered by hospitals is the lack of required services that consumers want. Although, out of 100 of the largest US hospitals, 66 offer consumer mobile health apps; only 2% of patients are found to be using them. This coupled with the non availability of services that consumers want from their health apps, may cost each hospital more than $100 million annually in lost revenues, according to a report by Accenture, titled “Losing Patience: Why Healthcare Providers Need to Up Their Mobile Game”.
The findings of this report should be an eye opener for hospitals. Out of the three most desired functions by patients – access to medical records, booking, changing or cancelling appointments and requests for prescription refills; only 11% of hospital apps offer at least one of them. The rest of the hospitals do not seem to have aligned their mobile app functions and user experience with what the patients expect. This is the reason why around 7% of patients have switched their healthcare providers citing poor experience with the online customer service, including mobile apps.
Currently, most hospitals only offer a subset of features in their mobile apps, such as the ability to view labs or look up basic forms. However, today’s tech savvy patients are not impressed with static services that are focused around core medical records; instead they want more personalized features such as appointment scheduling. Hospitals need to adopt a patient-centric approach when developing or revamping existing mobile apps.
According to Accenture, as consumers come into healthcare with their expectations of services experienced from other industries, healthcare providers will witness switching rates on par with the other industries, which range from 9% for the mobile phone industry to as high as 30% for the retail industry.
The report states that 38 out of the 66 hospitals that offer consumer mobile health apps, have developed their apps in-house rather than through a mobile app vendor. According to their suggestion, hospitals should engage prominent digital and mobile health companies to understand what the consumer wants and how they fit into the healthcare ecosystem. The question is not of buy versus build – with mobile health it has to be both.
Mobile engagement is becoming increasingly important to the success of every hospital in today’s digital age. It is imperative for hospitals to keep up, as the pace and scale of mobile health technology continues to grow faster and larger.