Building better mobile apps for better patient engagement
In the new healthcare economic environment, patient engagement is predicted to be alike for both providers and payers. One of the keys to attain high level of engagement among patients is connecting them through mobile technology.
Today, mobile technology is ubiquitous. Functions like medical management, remote patient monitoring, more bridged communication between care providers and patients can exponentially increase the consumer Health IT experience.
Patient-oriented Health IT is officially on the national agenda through the federal “meaningful use” program, which gives billions in cash incentives to providers for using IT to improve care (and in 2015 is scheduled to start penalizing holdouts by reducing their Medicare payments). The most recent set of criteria for meaningful use, to be phased in starting in 2014, requires an active effort to link patients into the information loop. Not only do providers have to make patients’ information available to them online, they also have to show that at least 5% of the patients have accessed that information in a given year. That percentage is likely to increase with the next round of meaningful use requirements.
So the question arises, in order to achieve a better patient engagement through mobility should providers develop their own applications? Through developing applications on their own, will it help providers concrete patient loyalty and enhance patient experience and satisfaction? Maybe, in the short term, says Chris Wasden, Global Healthcare Innovation Leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers.
“Provider apps will only have staying power to the extent that they create value for just their own system in unique ways,” he says. In other words, they have to work their way into that 3% of apps that users can’t live without.
But in the long run, Wasden says, mHealth will be about making connections that go far beyond a single hospital, physician group or health network.
“I think that provider-branded apps have real issues if they aren’t designed and supported to eclipse the geographic limits of the provider network,” he says. Increasingly, meaningful use will include easy, comprehensive data sharing amongst providers, and the app development world will have to take those requirements into account as well. Effective electronic connections with patients will be a key survival strategy for providers in the next few years as reimbursement changes to reward effective care.
Wasden says successful mHealth apps should fulfill the following six criteria:
- Integrated: into healthcare plans, clinical process, and the user’s lifestyle
- Interoperable: with electronic health record systems and information exchanges
- Intelligent: providing real-time alerts and intelligent guidance for patients, and actionable information for physicians
- Socialized: providing personal coaching, direct physician support, or other caregiver linkage
- Outcome-oriented: With demonstrated success in improving care and reducing costs
- Engaging: Allowing patients to configure settings, messaging, and interaction modes
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- 4 ways mobile health could save $400B in health costs [GigaOM] (gigaom.com)
- Digitizing the doctor’s office: 7 ways technology will shape healthcare in 2013 [GigaOM] (gigaom.com)