Today it is more or less mandatory that if you are a hospital CIO and responding to your management's request to go "digital" you will look to develop yet another app that will get you 'closer' to your patients, or customers as you may now be calling them! But will it really? Get you closer to them, I mean?
Well, it depends. Most hospitals and healthcare providers tend to build an app from their internal viewpoint, inward oriented perspective and limited by their own capacity to service a digital demand. So what happens is that the app becomes a mini website with mainly location details and a pretty elaborate and impressive directory of physicians and healthcare services on offer. Pages (screens) are dedicated to specialities, qualifications, experiences, health packages, new equipment and services now available and it becomes a proud digital presence in every senior manager and doctor's smart phone - flashed at the drop of hat over cocktails and coffee to admiring colleagues and family; and certainly at conferences and meetings with partners.
Oh, of course, let's not forget the appropriately placed "Search' button that allows visitors to "find" what or who they are looking for. Then comes the next layer of refinement - 'Filters". Set your preferences and suddenly an endless list of physicians and specialties becomes an easily readable 2! Viola - we have reached. The next logical phase is "Submit here" to request appointments and lo presto - an SMS confirmation pings in within seconds. A job well done, and digital mission achieved.
Somewhere in the app will be some icons also - largely placeholders for outdated and never refreshed content, "coming soon" personal health records, lab results and medications; plus a very cumbersome way to set up alerts and reminders for those most important appointments and prescription refill reminders.
Very neat - and if not crowded, then maybe even visually appealing so you can check the UI/UX box too, self pleasingly!
And that App is then put on Play Store and iTunes and through banners in the lobby, emailers in the inbox, placards on the reception desk and maybe even a Facebook campaign to "launch" the digital health services, grandly announced to weary patient.
But what did he do then? Did he download and log in and set up his profile? Did he request for appointments? Did he even like it and continue to use it, or did he delete after the customary 90 days as a newer app and closer hospital enticed him to download another app.
Was the business strategy and the clinical goal defined? Did we think 'Engagement' and what is it that will make the patient's life easier AND health better? These discussions are gaining importance and criticality in an ever increasing world of also-ran health and hospital apps. A well thought out plan and execution can be far more important in the long run rather than a cute and basic directory-type App.
Ask yourself -
You agree it has to be more than a directory of physicians?
Or another google map with directions to your locations and pharmacies, right?
Or just an appointment booking tool with an SMS engine bolted on?
Does it bring your customers closer to you? And reduce patient churn?
“How can it improve my top and bottom line?”