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    Three ways to get the most mileage from mobile apps

    While providers are making the effort to meet consumers’ expectations when it comes to mobile apps, their responses to date have been inadequate, according to a new report from Accenture.

    According to the report, more than half of health consumers would like to use their smartphones more to interact with their providers and they are displeased with the current lack of mobile services.

    “Having a mobile app is not sufficient to meet these demands and providers should focus on delivering exceptional user experience and functionality,” says Brian Kalis, managing director of Accenture’s Health practice.

    The research shows that 7% of patients have switched healthcare providers because of poor customer experience, which could translate to a loss of more than $100 million in annual revenue per hospital.

    “Managed healthcare executives who pay special attention to the quality of a hospital’s mobile app can increase the likelihood of retention of consumers as well as increased satisfaction,” Kalis says. “Patient experience strategies must focus more in mobile engagement as patient populations grow more and more accustomed to digital engagement. Mobile presence and capabilities can help providers succeed in an era of individualized healthcare, where patients are empowered to help manage their own healthcare.” 

    More findings

    Additional findings:

    ·         About 38% of the 100 largest U.S. hospitals have developed proprietary apps for their patients.

    ·         Hospital apps are failing to engage patients by not aligning their functionality/user experience with what consumers expect. Only 11% of health systems offer patients proprietary apps that operate with at least one of the top functions consumers demand:

    o   The ability to book, change and cancel appointments

    o   The ability to request prescription refills electronically

     

    Accenture analyzed mobile health apps offered by the top 100 U.S. hospitals as well as apps from independent vendors in Google Play and iTunes app stores. Accenture evaluated consumers’ usage and attitudes toward mobile health tools by assessing relevant data from the company’s consumer surveys from 2013 and 2014. To gauge patient population usage of mobile apps, Accenture referred to HIMSS Analytics, CDC 2012 National Hospital Discharge Survey and App Annie Q3 2014 Market Data.

     “In an era of individualized healthcare, providers that enable patients to feel empowered to manage their own care can succeed in retaining consumers who would otherwise switch to alternative providers of care where they feel they can find better overall user experience,” Kalis says.

    Successful mobile apps whose cutting-edge design pairs with an easy-to-use interface makes for a positive user experience, explains Kalis.

    “These apps also benefit from networks of users across patient populations. Further, the functionality of the apps need to be on par with customer needs and expectations,” he says. “The use of service design and design thinking is a valuable approach to identifying customer needs and expectations and designing experiences that connect with people at an emotional level.”

    Based on this report, Kalis offers three recommendations when it comes to mobile apps:

    #1. Hospitals must improve the user experience and functionality of their apps to meet consumers’ needs and expectations when it comes to digital patient engagement.
    #2.  Providers must not ignore the mobility needs of today’s digitally engaged patients who sometimes bring in expectations from other industries in order to not lose them to competitors.
    #3. Providers must also be wary of long-term impacts to their business as disruptors look to expand their service offerings.

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