Use Mobile to Create a True Hand Holdling Experience for Patients
It seems like overnight a boom in demand for virtual visits, digital health content, electronic communication with providers and solutions that simplify the healthcare journey forced leaders to accelerate digital innovation. Of course, it's been coming for a long time, and pandemic just pushed it along at a faster pace. Now, the right mobile strategy is not only key to optimal patient experiences, but also revenue.
COVID-19 permanently altered the way in which consumers think about and access care, fueling a 25% increase in downloads of digital health offerings, a rise in virtual specialty care and a surge in demand for technologies that put consumers in control of their care. Today, the importance of digital entry points to care and information has become so important that it affects consumers’ healthcare purchasing decisions.
But it takes more than an app to create the capabilities consumers seek. Instead, healthcare organizations must develop a tightly integrated mobile strategy that ties together all of the organization’s consumer-facing digital elements to create a seamless experience that strengthens loyalty and revenue.
The best mobile solutions for hospitals and systems create a digital hand-holding experience for patients throughout their care journey, from parking to the point of care. They use location-aware technologies for wayfinding—guiding patients from their home to the parking lot to the point of care—and for patient throughput, advising patients on the order in which locations are to be accessed, from a stop at the front desk for a badge to a trip to patient registration. Every destination in a patient’s encounter is mapped out on their phone from one point to the next, eliminating the stress of navigating a hospital environment.
After the encounter, these apps continue building on the care connections established. They help keep patients in network by putting all possible follow-up options for care at their fingertips—critical for preventing revenue leakage, given that about one-in-four patients receive follow-up care outside the original care network. For example, someone who has been discharged after a heart bypass procedure can easily search for a cardiac rehabilitation center from the mobile app, receive a dozen in-network options for care, choose the location closes to home, schedule an appointment and receive step-by-step directions to the facility on the day of the appointment. It’s an experience that feels self-directed, yet takes place within the health system’s digital network, bolstering patient retention and revenue.
Apps that serve as digital companions also alert patients to new activity in their medical record or account, from test results to account balance updates, with the ability to access these results, pay their bill or even enroll in patient payment plans directly from the app.
“The right digital companion anticipates consumers’ needs at each stage in their healthcare journey,” says Joshua Titus, president and CEO, Gozio Health. “It’s a tool that differentiates healthcare organizations from the competition by providing value at each stage of the consumer experience, from registration to the point of care and beyond.”
When WakeMed Health and Hospitals sought to transform its digital front door strategy, most of the mobile solutions that the health system researched lacked the functionality to be a true “digital companion” for consumers. WakeMed sought a robust platform that could answer a key question for potential users from the moments prior to download: “What’s in it for me?”
“There were not a lot of well-developed mobile apps that met our expectations for the patient experience,” says Debbie Laughery, vice president of marketing and communications for WakeMed. “Some of them were very clunky. Others were very expensive. We needed a full platform for engagement.”
In 2017, WakeMed began to explore what an all-access digital engagement strategy would include, from the ability to determine wait times at local emergency departments to finding a doctor, registering for care, reserving a seat in urgent care, preparing for the birth of a child, accessing medical records, communicating with a healthcare professional or paying a bill. WakeMed worked with a digital consultant to come up with a preliminary design. Then, the health system tested the app with employees, looking for opportunities for refinement before rolling it out to the public in 2018.
6,000 active users a month
Half a million sessions in two years
34% of users rely on wayfinding services through the app
33% leverage the app to find a physician
“The wayfinding feature is absolutely invaluable—you've got to have it—but the added value of the other functionality, all in one place in the palm of your hand, is really what makes our mobile app unique, and the ease of use is incredible,” Laughery says.
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