What Entails a Healthcare Mobile Strategy? Part 1 – Patient Applications

In this era, where over 50% of Americans have smartphones all industries need to have a mobile strategy and that is especially true for healthcare.  To get started, it first needs to be defined what makes up a mobile strategy.  A strategy, at minimum, should be a 3 pronged approach that focuses on: Part 1 – mobile applications for patients and their families; Part 2 – the clinicians that serve them; Part 3 – what devices the organization will support in this day of BYOD.

In Part 1 – Patient Applications, the focus will be on the type of mobile applications that could/should be offered by healthcare organizations.

Mobile Enabled Website

At a minimum, healthcare organizations should be their corporate website optimized to work on mobile devices.  This should’t be a stripped down version but rather a full functional website that allows patients to effectively look up necessary information.  The reality is that a lot of the larger health systems only implemented mobile sites in the past few years while a lof health systems still don’t have a site.

Examples of Health Systems with Mobile Sites

Mobile Applications

After implementing a mobile optimized website the next step is to begin providing mobile applications to their patients.  Thus far most applications from healthcare systems can be categorized into reference and healthy living apps.  

Reference Apps

Most hospitals that have a mobile application have essentially compiled their mobile website into a branded app for smartphones.  Those that are providing value add to their applications are including such services as “way-finding” to assist with visits to their facilities.  An example of a hospital providing such services in their mobile applications is Boston Children’s Hospital “MyWay” app.

Healthy Living

In addition to reference applications, a lot of the healthcare systems have developed “healthy living” apps that are typically tied to an initiative that they are promoting for their organization.  The problem with these applications is that the data that is collected is not tied back into the patients “personal health record”.  

Personal Health Record Application

One of the requirements of the healthcare legislation is that healthcare organizations are required to provide their patients with access to a personal health record (PHR).  If you examine the major EMR vendors (AllScripts, Cerner, Epic, McKesson, Meditech)  in the US they all provide a solution for PHRs but very few provide a mobile solutions.  The only vendor providing a mobile PHR to healthcare organizations is:

Hospitals Offering PHRs via Mobile

Healthcare systems on the forefront of mobile applications are wrapping PHRs into their primary mobile application for a one stop shop for their patients.  This should be the standard for organizations going forward as it provides a seamless experience on the mobile platform.  Examples of healthcare systems with this type of solution in place include:

Reference article on Mobile Website and Applications