Report: Hospitals Struggling To Develop Mobile App Audiences

January 6, 2016

Consumer healthcare has the potential to become the most impactful arena for mobile app development, but entering 2016, traditional providers are still struggling to satisfy their patients’ most basic mobile engagement expectations.

Hospital Apps Missing The Mark

With mobile apps quickly becoming the digital cornerstones of our daily lives, it’s no surprise to see that 54% of patients would like to use their smartphones more frequently when interacting with healthcare providers. What is surprising, however, is that the 100 largest hospitals in the U.S. have collectively engaged fewer than 2% of patients through mobile apps.

This disparity has not necessarily come from a lack of effort. Two-thirds of the hospitals analyzed by Accenture do have some form of consumer-facing mobile app — though fewer than 40% of those offerings came through custom development. The real failing seems to lie in their feature selection.

Patients have consistently cited access to medical records, appointment scheduling and prescription refill requests as their top-three most desired medical app capabilities. According to Accenture, the hospital apps achieved that functionality in 11%, 8% and 6% of cases, respectively.

Disruptive App Developers Stand To Profit

As large, traditional healthcare providers struggle to craft effective mobile apps, small, disruptive point solutions are gaining ground. By focusing on the attractive designs and intuitive tools that patients have come to expect from publishers in other app categories, apps like ZocDoc and iTriage are scoring consistent downloads and winning five-star ratings from patients.

While these independent apps aren’t necessarily going toe-to-toe with hospitals in terms of clinical service delivery, they could be cutting into profits by exacerbating patient dissatisfaction. With separate studies reporting that 7% of patients have switched healthcare providers on account of poor customer experiences, Accenture analysts concluded that a similar churn rate would translate to more than $100 million in revenue lost annually per hospital.

Whether hospitals decide that they’re capable of correcting course internally, or need to start partnering with outside vendors, successful solutions will likely stem from a very similar philosophy. By deliberately and consistently incorporating user feedback into the app development process, providers will significantly increase their odds of capturing customer loyalty. So, in effect, the disruption that the healthcare industry needs may merely be a renewed commitment to agile development fundamentals.