3 categories of mobile apps for your hospital
We like this category: 'Apps with a real functionality.'
Jenn Riggle is an associate vice president and director of health care social media for CRT/tanaka. This post originally appeared here.
It seems like every week, a hospital proudly unveils a new mobile app. But before you go and hire a mobile developer, ask yourself: Will a mobile app
provide real value to users and will it advance your hospital's marketing and/or clinical objectives?
It's not enough to simply build a mobile app; people need to use it. It's important to keep in mind that while there are thousands of iPhone apps
currently available, only 5 percent are
still used one month after downloading.
Will your hospital's app provide enough useful information so that it will be one that people return to on a regular basis?
I took a look at some hospital mobile apps and found that they seem to fall into three categories:
These apps are the most common and provide information, such as ER wait times, maps and directions, find a physician, and frequently called
numbers. Hospitals across the country are offering these types of apps, including Frye Regional Medical Center in North Carolina,
St. Christopher's Hospital for Children
in Philadelphia, and Des Peres Hospital
in St. Louis, Mo. While these apps may provide some other features, they're basically a marketing tool to help keep the hospital top-of-mind.
These apps are designed to meet a hospital's internal needs. For example,
Holy Name Medical Center
in New Jersey created an app that allows physicians to access clinical laboratory results on their smartphones. Palomar Pomerado Health introduced an app that provides physicians immediate access to a patient's
complete health record, from a variety of different sources spanning organizational boundaries. I'd love to see hospitals create apps to improve hand washing compliance, enhance customer service,
or translate medical jargon into terms non-medical people can understand.
Apps with real functionality:
I'm always excited to see hospital apps designed with their patients' needs in mind. For example, Southcoast Hospitals Group's iPhone app helps patients and their families
keep track of their medications, find a physician, and stay connected with news and events. Akron Children's Hospital's Care4Kids app provides general health
and hospital information, but also lets parents store their family's medical history, such as insurance and provider information, medications,
allergies and emergency contacts. DMC Children's Hospital of Michigan developed an app that answers common
pediatric health-related questions and provides a child safety checklist.
It's worth noting that Mayo Clinic formed a partnership with smartphone application
developer DoApps to create health applications, including a suite of custom apps built for clinics and hospitals and their patients. This makes a lot
of sense, since healthcare is regional and hospitals can customize apps to meet their regional needs.
Still, hospital execs must remember the old adage: Act in haste, repent at leisure. So, before you hire a developer, think carefully about the app's
function and its value to users.
Some other things to keep in mind:
For a mobile app to be successful, it should
provide a feature
that currently isn't available on your website.
An app should have one or more features that draw users back on a regular basis, such as an updated news function or reference feature.
It's better to do your homework now, than build an app that gathers dust later.
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