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Research: Hospitals and Health Systems Need to Align Mobile Apps with Patients’ Service Expectations

January 6, 2016
by Heather Landi
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Only 2 percent of patients in the largest U.S. hospitals use hospital-provided mobile apps and failure to align apps with consumers’ service expectations could cost each of these hospitals more than $100 million in lost annual revenue, according to research from Accenture.

While two-thirds (66 percent) of the 100 largest U.S. hospitals have mobile apps for patients and 38 percent of those hospitals have developed proprietary apps for their patients, it seems hospitals are only engaging a small percentage of their patients, the Accenture research indicates.

According to researchers’ analysis of mobile app use among the 100 largest hospitals, only 11 percent of health systems offer patients proprietary apps that operate with at least one of the three functions that consumers demand most – access to medical records, the ability to book, change and cancel appointment and the ability to request prescription refills electronically.

“Simply having a mobile app is not enough,” Brian Kalis, managing director in Accenture’s Health practice, said in a statement. “Hospital apps are failing to engage patients by not aligning their functionality and user experience with what consumers expect and need. Consumers want ubiquitous access to products and services as part of their customer experience, and those who become disillusioned with a provider’s mobile services – or a lack thereof – could look elsewhere for services.”

Accenture research also indicates that 7 percent of patients have switched healthcare providers due to a poor experience with online customer service channels, such as mobile apps and web chat.

“Accenture estimates that this pattern could lead to a loss of more than $100 million in annual revenue per hospital and suggests that as consumers bring their service expectations from other industries into healthcare, providers are likely to see higher switching rates, on par with the mobile phone industry (9 percent), cable TV providers (11 percent) or even retail (30 percent).

The researchers analyzed the mobile health apps offered by hospitals as well as those offered by independent digital health companies – such as Good Rx, ZocDoc and WebMD . The report suggests that one way for hospitals to improve the customer experience is to partner with digital health companies such as these to create mobile platforms tailored to their specific patient demands. For example, a large healthcare provider might partner with ZocDoc to improve appointment scheduling or with InstaMed Go to improve bill paying.
 
“Mobile engagement is becoming increasingly critical to the success of every hospital in the digital age,” Kalis said. “Today it’s all about enabling an individualized approach, where patients are empowered to help manage their own care. Large hospitals that design and build experiences as well as partner with digital disruptors will have the ability to better engage with their patients, which will enhance patient loyalty – thereby enabling the hospitals to protect their revenues.”

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