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As consumers obsess with mobile devices, engage them with health apps

The number of smartphone connections is expected to reach six billion by 2020, accounting for two-thirds of the nine billion global mobile connections by that time, according to a report from GSMA.
By Axway
09:09 AM
As consumers obsess with mobile devices, engage them with health apps

The number of smartphone connections is expected to reach six billion by 2020, accounting for two-thirds of the nine billion global mobile connections by that time, according to a report from GSMA.1 U.S. consumers already are spending about five hours per day on their mobile devices, according to a report from Flurry Analytics.2 So, how can healthcare get its share of this screen time to better connect and engage patients?

“Mobile technology adoption has skyrocketed, along with the amount of time consumers spend on their mobile devices. And, with the emergence of smart devices – from virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa to wearables like Apple Watch – a significant opportunity exists for healthcare apps and services that are designed to be easily accessible via the devices consumers are already using on a daily basis,” said Joanna Gorovoy, senior director industry solutions marketing, Axway. “Patients are demanding convenient access to health information and services online or via a mobile app. They already use apps on their smartphone to manage different aspects of their daily life, so their expectations around digital healthcare experiences have also evolved.”

As consumers grow accustomed to managing aspects of their lives using mobile devices, they expect to be able to manage their health as well, demanding the same level of mobile access and engagement as is found in other industries. 

“With financial services, for example, consumers have instant access to account information, and can use their bank’s mobile app to instantly send and receive money with just a tap,” Gorovoy said. “Consumers can do so much on their mobile devices now that their level of tolerance for not having that same level of connectivity and access as patients is wearing down.”  

To meet consumer expectations, healthcare organizations are being called on to empower patient engagement. Tremendous potential exists to positively affect patient outcomes by improving access to convenient digital services. For example, patients who used a mobile app following breast reconstruction surgery made a mean of 0.66 in-person follow-up visits, less than half the mean of 1.64 visits than the patients who did not use a mobile app for follow-up care, according to study published in JAMA Surgery.3

To make the most of digital engagement, however, data must be unlocked from existing silos and securely shared across systems, applications and devices to meet patient demands for application programming interface (API)-powered apps and services.

Healthcare organizations also need to enable better connectivity across the care continuum. As such, organizations should look toward leveraging FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) – a standard describing data formats and elements (known as “resources”) and APIs for exchanging electronic health data – to foster innovation and support the development of a more connected and personalized patient experience, drawing upon information from an array of sources.

Consider the issue of medication adherence for a chronically ill patient, for example. When all constituents and data are seamlessly connected, it is much easier to ensure that patients comply with their medication plans. Imagine what’s possible when patients can use a medication dispenser that leverages an Internet of Things button to communicate information to a virtual personal assistant, enabling apps to gain controlled access to the resulting data making it possible for:   

  • Patients to be reminded of what medications need to be taken, in what dose and at what time
  • Providers to know what other providers have prescribed – so they don’t overprescribe medications or prescribe medications that can have dangerous interactions
  • Pharmacists to immediately know what medications need to be refilled and have them ready for patients
  • Family members to monitor medication adherence and intervene as necessary

By facilitating access to information from across the care continuum, healthcare organizations can work together to provide the level of patient engagement that can have a positive impact on health outcomes. By doing so, the healthcare industry can achieve parity with other industries – and achieve the “coordination and collaboration across organizations that form an ecosystem that delivers value-added services for patients,” Gorovoy said.

1. GSMA. “Smartphones to account for two thirds of world’s mobile market by 2020 says new gsma intelligence study.” http://www.gsma.com/newsroom/press-release/smartphones-account-two-third...

2. Flurry Analytics. “U.S. Consumers Time-Spent on Mobile Crosses 5 Hours a Day.” http://flurrymobile.tumblr.com/post/157921590345/us-consumers-time-spent-on-mobile-crosses-5  

3. Armstrong, K.A.; Coyte, P.C.; Brown, M.; Beber, B.; Semple, J.L. “Effect of Home Monitoring via Mobile App on the Number of In-Person Visits Following Ambulatory Surgery A Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA Surg. 2017; 152(7):622–627. http://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamasurgery/article-abstract/2612832