How to Optimize Your Patient-facing App

Dr Keith Nelson

These days, every hospital and medical provider group has a proprietary app, the purpose of which is to improve the patient experience and, presumably, increase operational efficiency and productivity for providers. Speaking to the former, in today’s highly competitive, value-based healthcare environment, improving patient satisfaction and engagement has become a top priority for medical providers. And the patient-facing app (Digital Front Door) is one of the most powerful tools employed to achieve this goal.

Accenture estimates that the three app functions most desired by patients are appointment scheduling, prescription refills, and some access to medical records/test results. This is considered the bare minimum needed to drive patient app engagement. However, most hospitals increasingly have been adding other beneficial features to improve the user experience and empower patients by enabling them to take greater control of their healthcare journey.

Who’s Developing Your App?

As far as app development is concerned, the largest organizations typically either develop entirely internally, or team their in-house resources with a subcontracted app development firm—which may or may not have specific healthcare subject matter expertise. Medium-sized and smaller organizations usually outsource the majority of the development work or leverage the patient experience modules associated with their Electronic Health Record software (e.g., Epic MyChart, Cerner CareAware), which tend to be relatively limited in scope, less user-friendly, and less engaging. Generally speaking, the majority of hospitals have either not yet endeavored into the realm of enhanced app development, or have developed relatively limited, often non-compelling offerings. As a healthcare provider, it is important to develop a strategy that will best serve your organization and maximize the app’s impact on your patient population.  

Add the Right Features

Of course, as previously mentioned, the other primary purpose of an app is to improve the efficiency, productivity, and branding of your organization. You can leverage the app to promote your services, differentiated assets, and accomplishments; reduce the workload of your staff; streamline the registration and post-discharge processes; and receive patient feedback, in addition to many other things.

Examples of advanced app features include:

  • Welcome Message (leveraging geo fencing)
  • Entertainment (cable TV, streaming services)
  • Wayfinding
  • Physician Contact Numbers/Email/Texting
  • Customized Education/Videos
  • Pre- and Post-Appointment and Discharge Instructions
  • Appointments (scheduling/reminders/calendar)
  • Test Results
  • Medical Records
  • Nurse Call
  • Dietary Ordering
  • Support Groups
  • Patient Registration
  • Telemedicine
  • Integration with Home Monitoring Equipment and Smart Watches
  • Gift Shop (for visitors/family)
  • Prescription Refills
  • Medication Tracking
  • Retail Supplies (disposables, DME, OTC)
  • Parking (location, directions, and payment)
  • Patient Tracking (for authorized relatives)
  • Patient Feedback/Surveys
  • Restaurants/Food Delivery
  • Uber/Lyft

In planning a comprehensive app development strategy, it is important to incorporate infrastructure considerations that will support the current and future features you plan to make available. These can range from designing an optimized network and access points and beacons (wayfinding, geofencing, Wi-Fi access) to EHR/ERP integration, security, and seamless performance continuity after EHR and OS updates.

Outsourcing App Development

Connection can reduce the burden on your IT staff by teaming you with the market leader in healthcare app development. Leveraging our partner’s depth of experience and Connection’s unparalleled infrastructure support in networking and security, your organization can optimize your proprietary patient-facing app platform by letting you choose from a suite of customizable off-the-shelf app modules or designing customized features developed from scratch. The result will be a unique digital front door that will elevate patient satisfaction, increase productivity and reduce the workload of your staff, all without stressing your internal IT team.  Ready to learn more? Contact us today.

Dr. Keith Nelson is the Director of Healthcare Strategy at Connection and is responsible for formulating and implementing Connection’s go-to-market strategy for the healthcare industry. His responsibilities include identifying and developing differentiated use case driven technology solutions for Connection’s healthcare clients, promoting Connection’s healthcare practice, and driving strategic client and partner engagement. Before joining Connection, Keith led the healthcare vertical at Ingram Micro. Prior to that, he was a consultant to the healthcare industry, providing guidance to hospitals, large physician groups and vendors in the areas of business development, marketing, finance and improving operational efficiency. Concomitantly, Keith worked with various private equity firms focusing on roll-ups in the healthcare sector. He has held senior management positions at MDNY Healthcare, HealthAllies (now a subsidiary of United Healthcare), and was the founder of the Renoir Cosmetic Physician Network. Prior to that, Keith spent ten years in private medical practice focusing on surgical reconstruction of the foot and ankle and chronic wound care. He has an MBA in Finance, as well as a Doctorate in Podiatric Medicine, and is Board Certified by the ABPM.