Learn about different types of apps that engage with patients and the features that can set a hospital’s app apart

Hospital Apps are a great way to engage with patients and studies show that they want to use them. These apps are not only convenient, but they allow patients to work with their providers and can result in a much more favorable outcome to their medical issues and overall health.

Accenture reports that 66% of the largest hospitals in the US offer a mobile app. With the use of mobile devices and smartphones skyrocketing, nearly 54% of patients reported that they want to use healthcare apps but only 2% are using their hospital’s app. Before we get into why only 2% are using their hospital’s apps, let’s go over some different types of hospital apps a facility can offer its patients.

8 Types of Hospital Apps

MobileSmith, a leading app developer, defines 8 different types of hospital apps that a facility could chose to use. Some of the features overlap. Go to this link for a more in-depth look at real-world examples of each.https://www.mobilesmith.com/hospital-apps/

1) ER/Urgent Care Apps – Route patients to the nearest and most cost-effective urgent care choice. Provide directions, travel time, wait times, insurance options, etc.

2) Wayfinding Apps – Help patients find their way around your property. Search for departments, staff members, physicians. Provide location-based push messaging, maps, and more.

3) Pregnancy/Childbirth Apps – Help to educate patients and keep them on schedule for appointments and care with a pregnancy tracker. Provide information for both pre and postnatal care, as well as newborn infant care.

4) General Hospital Apps – A main app for your hospital to spotlight your branding and messaging. This overall app can provide hospital information, services provided, virtual tour, ER wait times, etc. A good starting point.

5) Cancer Care/Outpatient Apps – Engage with outpatients about their condition  and increase adherence to their treatment plan. Patients can manage their care team and lab results with their treatment tracker. Also provides engagement with other patients and even a virtual wig gallery.

6) Physician Referral Apps – Referrals, long a thorn in the side of patients and doctors alike, also get the app treatment. Provide a quick and easy referral process and strengthen physician relationships at your facility. Request appointments directly from the app.

7) Wellness Apps – Encourage patients to track their own health. Provide a health tracker, exercise class schedules, and health and wellness tips. Even offer a reward program to encourage regular use. Great branding.

8) Medication Tracking Apps – Encourage adherence to prescription regimen by tracking doses, intervals, meals, and feelings. Help manage response to treatment and make sure there are no medication conflicts.

While this is just one mobile app developer’s offering; you can see that there are many, many small corners to how a hospital can use a mobile app to create engagement and increase the overall health and success of patient treatment.  But what is missing? Why are only 2% of patients using a hospital’s apps? Well, the answer is in the features they offer.

3 Features that Patients Desire Most in a Healthcare App

That leads us to another important finding reported on HealthcareBusinessTech.com. It seems that only 11% of hospital apps have the 3 features that patients desire most.

1) EHR – Access to their EHR/EMR (electronic health/medical record)

2) Appointments – The ability to book, cancel, and reschedule appointments

3) Prescriptions – The ability to process refills on their medical prescriptions

Surprisingly, these very basic and most important features are still elusive. I suspect it may be a result of wariness of privacy issues and prescription medicine abuse. As a result, patients are forced to use third-party healthcare apps, like ZocDoc, an app that allows appointment scheduling and is widely used by consumers. The solution could be to partner with these third-party apps to have them build these features into your facility’s app and bring with them, any goodwill their brand has of its own.

While many hospitals are waiting to jump on board the mobile hospital app train, be sure not to miss out on opportunity. There’s a big push going on in the healthcare industry, where the collection of millions of data points is promising to change the way we think about healthcare, but the industry must strive to “Make it personal,” as Eric Dishman of Intel recently said. The sooner your facility takes the hospital app plunge and begins to build patient engagement, the sooner you can begin to build your hospital’s brand and become more patient-focused. Contact Merraine Group® at www.Merraine.com, or call 845-290-1900, if your facility needs to add a Digital Marketing expert, or other healthcare leadership, to its team.

-by Julie Lambert, Social Media Director, Merraine Group®, your premiere choice for recruiting solid hospital leadership. www.Merraine.com

1) Are You Ready for the Rise of Patient Empowerment? – February 12, 2016 by Chris Tackett – http://www.himss.org/News/NewsDetail.aspx?ItemNumber=46946

2) Hospitals struggle with mobile apps: How to fix it – January 6, 2016 by Jess White – http://www.healthcarebusinesstech.com/hospital-struggle-app/

3) MobileSmith Mobile App Developers –https://www.mobilesmith.com/hospital-apps/