If patient engagement is the holy grail of healthcare and if hospital revenue will increasingly hinge on the ability to connect with patients, then why are so many hospitals missing out on one of the most effective means of engaging patients -- a branded mobile application? Smart hospitals are moving decisively into mobile. Just like a hospital website is nonoptional, mobile apps are quickly becoming critical to core operations. Here are five reasons why:
1. Most patients already have a smartphone
It is official, more than 50% of Americans have smartphones. Hospitals need to give them what they want -- an easy way to engage that doesn't involve navigating a complicated phone tree menu. As a bonus, smartphone users are likely well insured.
2. Healthcare is increasingly competitive
Health reform is accelerating transparency and patients are becoming increasingly market driven. That means comparison shopping on quality and price. The move to population health will only intensify competition. A mobile application provides a means of establishing a relationship between your brand and your hospital.
3. Visiting a hospital is intimidating
It might be difficult for hospital employees to truly appreciate how bewildering it is for a patient to navigate a hospital. A mobile app is ideally suited as a pocket guide. From GPS-powered directions to parking to wayfinding inside the hospital, a mobile app can help patients navigate an entire health system. Further, with a click-to-call directory of all hospital resources, patients don't need to line up at the front desk for basic questions.
4. Patients are already seeking health information online
80% of patients have looked up health information online. They are probably not using your hospital as the go-to resource for health information. Do not cede this opportunity to a national brand or to a local competitor. Give your patients a comprehensive health library from a trusted source on their phone.
5. The future of patient engagement is mobile
From tracking health metrics to accessing personal health records, the future of healthcare is mobile. Moreover, the industry is transforming its orientation from being institution centric to being patient centric.
In a few years, the decision to offer a branded mobile app for a hospital will likely seem as obvious as the decision to offer a branded website is today. Those that move too slowly will likely pay the price. Being late to this trend could translate into revenue losses or catch-up costs -- or both -- in the future.