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No longer are smartphones just for texts, picture sharing, and an ever-constant stream of news and entertainment. Mobile technology has permeated nearly every industry and now, healthcare is finally getting on board.
Though initially slow to adapt, the healthcare industry has gained momentum thanks to the mHealth (mobile health) revolution. From wearable fitness apps to simplified appointment booking, an explosion in mHealth apps has allowed providers to meet their patients where they live and work, empowering individuals to take greater control of their health while helping organizations dramatically reduce costs.
Taking a cue from other consumer-focused industries like retail and finance, healthcare organizations have begun to see patients as customers looking for a more personalized approach to their health — and have started to adjust accordingly.
This shift towards the patient experience means that hospitals and other healthcare providers are moving away from a traditionally inbound-based service model towards outward-focused patient care.
What effect has this had on the industry? We asked experts to share their insights.
Perioperative apps have replaced handouts with interactive protocols that drive down both same-day cancellations and readmission rates while saving hospitals hundreds of dollars per procedure. Chronic condition apps help patients better manage medications while complying with discharge instructions. And service line apps, such as those for pregnancy or bariatric procedures, are more effectively coordinating care to increase HCAHPS Care Transition scores.
By far the biggest trend we’ve seen is hospital leadership embracing the ‘consumerism’ trend, particularly in our space (mom/baby). The aim is to use mobile, digital tools to engage consumers, bring them “online” and target specific campaigns with them. This includes everything from driving up adoption to ancillary hospital services or maintaining care within certain networks.
There will be a plethora of new technology to support providers too. The Internet of Things (IoT) and mobile apps that connect to medical devices, monitor patients, and automatically transmit vital sign information into an electronic health record (EHR) will provide a layer of patient safety, as they will eliminate common data entry errors that sometimes can be deadly.The future of healthcare is easy to use. Usability in healthcare has been a topic of conversation for way too many years. Soon, we will finally see a push towards designing and building healthcare software that matches the mental model and workflow of its users.
Healthcare organizations are continuing to awaken to the fact that they are retail-like organizations and must meet their patients’ expectations regarding how business is done with consumers today. As a result, leading healthcare organizations are extending their digital capabilities. For many patients, their primary electronic device is their smartphone. Leading healthcare organizations are investing in mobile capabilities, including enhanced websites, mobile apps and, now, progressive web apps (PWAs) that simplify activation and offer easy to use and focused capability for the transaction or activity that a patient wants to do in the moment.
The biggest trends in mobile health-tech is telehealth. Why drive and sit in a waiting room, when you can schedule and see a doctor on your phone? Too often healthcare providers are distracted and running from appointment to appointment. We learn more from Google than in a 5-minute face-to-face with our provider anyway.
Healthcare industry leaders are making significant investments to upgrade patient experiences so that positive behaviors and outcomes are more likely achieved; some are even beginning to use patient experience as a market differentiator thanks to advanced mobile technologies. And, because 95% of patients are comfortable sharing their private health data via mobile devices with doctors and other industry professionals, the potential to create disruptive service offerings will only continue to grow moving forward.
Expect to see major investment in mHealth from healthcare organizations. As our experts shared, the many applications for new technologies can serve as a win-win for both patients and the industry.
As the digital revolution takes hold of nearly every industry and patients continue to expect a more personalized approach to their health, advancements in mHealth technologies will allow healthcare to transition into the consumer-focused industry patients want and need.