Only 2 percent of patients in the largest U.S. hospitals are using hospital-provided mobile health apps, according to an Accenture report that assessed mobile app use among the 100 largest U.S. hospitals.
The study found two-thirds of the 100 largest U.S. hospitals have mobile apps for consumers and roughly two-fifths (38 percent) of that subset have developed proprietary apps for their patients.
"Health care providers should move quickly to address mobile shortcomings. By focusing on enhanced user experience and better functionality, providers will be able to better meet consumers’ wants and needs," Brian Kalis, managing director of Accenture’s health practice, told eWEEK. "Apps that perform well also have the potential to tap into networks of users across different patient populations."
Accenture’s latest research shows that failure of the largest U.S. hospitals to take steps to align mobile apps to meet consumers’ demand could come with a cost – on average, likely more than $100 million in lost annual revenue.
The survey also found approximately 7 percent of patients have switched health care providers due to a poor experience with online customer service channels, such as mobile apps and Web chat.
As consumers bring their service expectations from other industries into healthcare, providers are likely to see higher switching rates, on par with the mobile phone industry (9 percent), cable TV providers (11 percent) or even retail (30 percent), the report found.
"Of course, in today’s day and age, security and privacy concerns are always top of mind. But, as technology progresses, it’s about finding the right balance," Kalis explained. "For example, research we conducted in 2014 found the majority of U.S. consumers living with chronic conditions believe accessing medical records online outweighs privacy risks. Similarly, in today’s health apps, it’s all about enabling an individualized approach, where patients are empowered to help manage their own care."
He said large hospitals that design and build experiences as well as partner with digital disruptors will have the ability to better engage with their patients.
"Disruptor health care apps will continue to evolve to better meet consumers’ needs, further closing the gap between consumer experiences and expectations," Kalis said. "Digital patient engagement is becoming the norm and it’s not only good for patients, but mobile engagement and overall patient experience strategies can also help with customer retention."
The report suggests that one way for hospitals to improve the customer experience is to partner with digital disruptors such as these to create mobile platforms tailored to their specific patient demands.