Guest Blog: Healthcare organisations must adopt apps

30 MAR 2017

Chris Byers (pictured), CEO of US-based online form and data-collection platform provider Formstack, explains why adopting healthcare apps brings benefits to patients and medical staff alike.

A growing number of organisations across industries are developing mobile friendly services and solutions now mobile browsing exceeds desktop browsing. The healthcare industry is not exempt from this shifting landscape, but many healthcare organisations are lagging behind.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conducted a survey during 2015 in which 83 per cent of healthcare providers surveyed said they felt strongly their organisation should deploy mobile devices. The same study determined mobile healthcare solutions had a positive impact on patient engagement and helped providers achieve over 20 per cent in savings in areas such as resource utilisation and preventative support care.

Though many facilities are behind, it’s not too late to start using mobile technology to provide convenient, accessible healthcare for patients.

Healthcare apps
In the previously mentioned HIMSS study, only 31 per cent of facilities have an organisation-specific app. Considering over 50 per cent of smartphone users gather health related information through healthcare apps, there is enormous room for expansion in this area. The growing adoption of these apps offers benefits to both patients and medical staff.

Apps allow patients to become more engaged in their own care. Many of these apps are focused on the patient and are specialised in tracking health factors like diet, exercise, pregnancy or sleep. The iPhone’s native health data app is one example, tracking various health measures through automatic syncing or manual entry.

Apps such as Doctor on Demand connect patients with doctors via live video for medical assessment, diagnosis, and even prescriptions, all for about the same cost as a typical copay [a common payment feature of many health insurance plans].

This form of remote care has lower overhead for the provider and is even covered by some health plans.

Overall, healthcare apps provide a more efficient and convenient way for patients and medical professionals to communicate and log information.

Text
Text (or SMS) communication is another fantastic tool for mobile patient engagement.

According to HIMSS, 57 per cent of healthcare providers are already using texts to keep patients informed on their appointments and prescriptions. Some providers allow patients to confirm, reschedule, or cancel an appointment via text. This allows patients more flexibility.

Health and wellness updates are another way some healthcare organisations have started to use text communications. For example, the free Text4baby programme is an interactive way for expecting mothers to receive important information about their pregnancy. These updates include appointment reminders, health and safety tips, and details about how their baby is growing each week.

Mobile-friendly healthcare forms
Healthcare facilities use countless forms: patient registration and referrals, record releases, equipment ordering, incident reporting and lead generation, among others. It may seem counterintuitive to add another form to that list, but sending out a patient satisfaction survey will demonstrate an organisation values the opinions of their patients and is interested in improving the quality of care.

Using HIPAA compliant, mobile-friendly, forms helps medical facilities create better, more engaging experiences for patients. Allowing patients to fill out these forms from their mobile device adds to their convenience, and having a form which is mobile responsive will make them more likely to fill it out.

Technological advances are changing the world around us. It’s up to healthcare facilities to adapt and keep up with their patients’ evolving lifestyle or be left behind.

The editorial views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and will not necessarily reflect the views of the GSMA, its Members or Associate Members.