Best practices in mobile engagement tools: First build the foundation, then customize your offerings for your patient population

Consumers today expect basic mobile patient engagement tools from the healthcare system.

They want to complete intake paperwork online, obtain basic provider information, access prescriptions and labs and pay bills quickly and easily. 

Once health systems deliver these foundational services, it's time to implement tools that differentiate them from the competition.

In a session sponsored by Gozio Health at the Becker's Patient Experience + Marketing Virtual Event, Lea Chatham, vice president of marketing at Gozio Health, discussed the importance of mobile digital engagement, the 80/20 strategy and how to discover and implement the unique 20 percent.

Three key takeaways were:

1. While mobile is a key component of a successful digital strategy, health systems must find ways to minimize the operational and IT burden associated with mobile technologies. According to a Gozio Health survey of 270 healthcare executives, nine out of 10 believe that a well-designed, patient-facing mobile app would help their organization achieve its digital strategy goals while another survey said 93 percent believe that mobile is key to improving patient engagement. "Yet there's a real struggle to operationalize this in a way that is not going to require a huge amount of IT resources," Ms. Chatham said. "CIOs are saying that somebody else needs to take the lead because it's a part of a bigger engagement strategy."

2. The first step in pursuing mobile is purchasing and implementing the foundation that every health system must have. "Today, there is a list of [mobile technology] that all health systems really should have, like online scheduling, digital registration forms, bill pay and portal access," Ms. Chatham said. "Best-of-breed companies have already built and tested these tools along with frameworks that can tie them together into a single platform. That robust, cloud-based framework will stay compliant, provide a content management system that can be updated quickly and offer key analytics."

3. Once the foundation is in place, health systems can customize their mobile experience to engage their patient population. The foundation represents 80 percent of a mobile implementation. The remaining 20 percent is how a health system customizes its mobile experience to differentiate itself and engage patients.

Discovering what the remaining 20 percent is requires human-centered design that explores and listens to a health system's particular patient population. "Things like care coordination or helping people navigate the right care at the right time for their healthcare journey is important," Ms. Chatham said. "Consider the wants and needs of the chief family health officer — that person making decisions within a whole family network. Or find creative ways to reach specific underserved populations. Map out those patient journeys in as much detail as possible, and then build that 20 percent to meet the needs of those journeys." Today, that could include things like offering urgent care wait times or detailed wayfinding tools, or communicating about non-medical needs in a hospital like food aversions or room temperature.

By taking advantage of best-of-breed mobile digital technologies, health systems can free up resources to build customized offerings that will help differentiate them from the competition.

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