How healthcare organizations can embrace mobile technology

The digital world is in the middle of a revolution, as mobile browsing now exceeds desktop browsing. As a result, a growing number of organizations across industries are following suit by developing mobile-friendly solutions and services.

This shifting landscape has not bypassed the healthcare industry, but many healthcare organizations are lagging behind.

In a 2015 survey from Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), 83 percent of healthcare providers surveyed said they felt strongly that their organization should deploy mobile devices. The same study determined mobile healthcare solutions had a positive impact on patient engagement and helped providers achieve over 20 percent in savings in areas such as resource utilization and preventative support care.

Has your healthcare facility been slow to adapt to the mobile movement? If so, don't fret; it's not too late to start using mobile technology. There are easily manageable steps your organization can take to provide convenient, accessible healthcare for patients. Here are a few ways to connect with patients, wherever they are.

Healthcare Apps
In the previously mentioned HIMSS study, only 31 perfect of healthcare facilities surveyed had an organization-specific app. Considering over 50 percent of smartphone users gather health-related information through mobile healthcare apps, there is enormous room for expansion in this arena. The growing adoption of these apps has benefits for both patients and medical staff.

Apps allow patients to become more engaged in their own care. Many of these apps are focused on the patient and are specialized in tracking health factors like diet, exercise, pregnancy, or sleep. The iPhone's native "Health Data" app is one example, tracking various health measures through automatic syncing or manual entry. These apps help build a physical connection between the patient and his or her care.

Apps such as Doctor on Demand, among others, connect patients with doctors via live video for medical assessment, diagnosis, and even prescriptions—all for about the same cost as a typical copay. This form of remote care has lower overhead for the provider and is even covered by some health plans.

Healthcare apps provide a more convenient, more efficient way for patients and medical professionals to communicate and log information, making them a popular addition to healthcare organizations' portfolios.

Text Communications
Text communication, or SMS, is another fantastic tool for mobile patient engagement.

57 percent of healthcare providers are already using text communications to keep patients informed on their appointments and prescriptions, according to HIMSS. Some providers even allow patients to confirm, reschedule, or cancel an appointment via text. This convenient alternative free patients from being required to call during office hours to make appointment changes and instead allows them more flexibility and freedom.

Health and wellness updates are another way some healthcare organizations have started to use text communications. For example, the free Text4baby program is an interactive way for expecting mothers to receive important information about their pregnancy. These text updates include appointment reminders, health and safety tips, and details about how their baby is growing each week, all in a convenient and non-intrusive fashion.

Mobile-Friendly Healthcare Forms
Healthcare facilities use countless forms: patient registration and referrals, record releases, equipment ordering, incident reporting, lead generation, among others. It may seem counterintuitive to add another form to that list, but sending out a patient satisfaction survey will demonstrate that you value opinions of your patients and you're interested in improving the quality of the care you provide. Here are a few sample questions to consider:

1. Were we able to sufficiently help remind you of your appointment?
2. How was the timing of when you were seen compared to your scheduled appointment time?
3. How well did your provider listen to your concerns?

Using HIPAA compliant, mobile-friendly forms helps medical facilities create better, more engaging experiences for patients. Allowing patients to fill out these forms from their mobile device adds to their convenience, and having a form that's mobile-responsive will make them more likely to fill it out.

Technological advances are changing industries all around the world. It's up to healthcare organizations to adapt and keep up with their patients' evolving lifestyle or be left behind.

Author bio
Chris Byers is the CEO of Formstack, an Indianapolis-based company offering an online form and data-collection platform. Prior to Formstack, Byers co-founded an international nonprofit that was built via remote relationships among partners in Europe, Africa, and the United States.

The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of Becker's Hospital Review/Becker's Healthcare. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are not guaranteed. We accept no liability for any errors, omissions or representations. The copyright of this content belongs to the author and any liability with regards to infringement of intellectual property rights remains with them.

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