The number of people using mobile technology is on the rise. In 2008, the number of smartphone subscribers was 15 million. That number almost doubled in 2009, reaching 26 million, and is expected to grow to roughly 142 million in 2011, according to Nielsen Mobile, which tracks wireless trends.
So it’s no surprise that creating smartphone applications is an area that hospitals want to take advantage of. “It is another new way of marketing and interacting with patients and potential consumers,” says Barbara Mackovic, senior marketing manager at Louisville,
KY–based Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s HealthCare (JHSMH). The world of communication is changing so rapidly, Mackovic says, that once you master one thing, it is already out of date. Mobile technology is “something that all marketers have to be aware of and figure out how that pertains to their target market,” she says.
Melissa Tizon, communications director at Seattle’s Swedish Medical Center, agrees. “At the end of the day, it is about what kind of experience patients are having with you. And if you can make that experience easier by putting something convenient on their phone, then those are the kinds of things that we want to do.”
Although mobile technology is an important feature that hospital marketers shouldn’t overlook, they also shouldn’t create an app just to be able to say they have one.
“There are so many [apps] that people download that aren’t used, so you have to think about what is useful,” says Tizon. Here is a look behind the two health systems’ mobile strategies.