Along with the fast moving changes in the healthcare industry, we are also watching changes in web marketing platforms that we have come to count on. For example, Google’s algorithm now withholds keyword information which has made it more difficult to harness the power of SEO for inbound marketing. And Facebook will no longer be allowing free rides into fans’ newsfeeds. These are just two but are sure to be only the beginning. So the question is this: In the face of all these changes, do healthcare providers still have access to an online marketing outlet whose reach is growing rather than shrinking? The answer is yes. And it’s to be found in the rapidly expanding field of enterprise mobile apps.
A recent study done by the IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics showed that as of October 2013, there were more than 40,000 mobile healthcare apps available for download, 100 of which have even been approved by the FDA. And more mobile apps are being developed every day to meet the growing demand from the 55% of American adults who own smart phones: from apps that help patients locate the right provider, and apps that allow them to schedule appointments, to apps that give information on symptoms or send medication reminders.
With smart phone penetration among seniors only totaling 18%, this market segment might appear less than promising at first glance. But the study uncovered two encouraging trends. Firstly, mobile use among this population is actually up from 13% in 2012—a significant jump in just one year. As more tech-savvy baby boomers join this demographic, those numbers will only rise. And secondly, while older patients themselves may not have a smart phone, their caregivers—on average 45-55 years old—most likely do, and they are the ones making the major healthcare decisions on behalf of their parents.
With numbers like these, it’s clear that healthcare providers who don’t take advantage of mobility are missing out. But the solution is not to rush headlong into mobile app development. Instead, the key to an effective entry into the mobile market is a carefully crafted strategy.
Before establishing an effective mobile strategy, though, it is important to note that the attention span of a user on a mobile device is substantially less than one using a web interface. So, you have even less time (around 10 seconds) to impress the user and encourage continued use of the app. The steps in creating a mobile strategy are: establishing the user profile, defining the data to be made available on the mobile device, designing the data security protocol, and deciding how to leverage the data generated by the mobile devices to make business decisions. A well-designed app will have intuitive usability (information architecture) and instant screen loading (performance). If the app requires a user manual or a help button for a brand new user it is likely to fail.
Creating a mobile app simply for the sake of having an app will not deliver tangible results. As with any facet of business, the strategy behind its development and use must fit seamlessly within your overall enterprise strategy. Mobility is nothing more than a tool. It’s what you do with that tool that determines its success.
Hospitals and healthcare organizations need to develop a mobile strategy that will address everything thing they need to achieve: facilitate collaboration in the supply chain while, increasing patient care and communication as well as increasing employee satisfaction and productivity. With this in mind, it can be possible to design and deploy an app to generate ongoing performance management and analytics solutions. The key is for the app to fit harmoniously with the overall business strategy, and produce a significant and measurable ROI.
A well thought-out and executed mobile strategy should enhance and support your healthcare business. A poorly executed app can do just the opposite. Why risk your company’s reputation by rushing into mobile app development without a strategy? In order to take advantage of the growing influence of mobility in the healthcare industry, a strategy is the key to success.
Kishore Khandavalli is the Founder and CEO of SevenTablets (www.SevenTablets.com), a leading mobile company based in Dallas, Texas, that designs and delivers enterprise mobile apps, analytics and big data solutions. He can be reached at [email protected].
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