Hospital Apps Must Be Problem Solvers

Jacqueline Fellows, for HealthLeaders Media , June 12, 2013

"We are about 65–70 % Medicare/Medicaid. I wasn't expecting everyone on Medicare to carry the iPhone, but I thought their children might. So we developed the app for a female, aged 30–50."

As a person who is a spouse, mother, and former caretaker (my grandfather passed away late last year), I know that when I want a new doctor, I employ several sources, such as word of mouth referrals, online ratings, and network coverage. So, the availability of an app may figure into my decision about which doctor to choose, but maybe not.

However, when I need a solution to a specific problem, like letting my grandmother know that my grandfather's doctor changed dosages on one of his prescriptions, I do what works quickest, hence the Post-It note solution. Had the hospital he frequented offered some sort of app, it's likely we would have used it.

Another issue that was solved for Southcoast was getting patients used to technology without creating privacy issues. "SouthCoast has no access to the data," says Rattray. "The patient puts their information in, and it is stored in their phone. There is no privacy issue at all."

Apps now do not have the novelty they once did, but with smartphones seen as a must-have instead of a nice-to-have, a well-designed app that helps patients solve a specific problem may be the first step toward having them think of a hospital or health system as a partner instead of a place.

Jacqueline Fellows is an editor for HealthLeaders Media.
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