A hospital-branded app can make interacting with your organization as addictive as shopping on Amazon. (“Oh, I see my prescription is ready.” “Great, my doctor got back to me.” “OK, made that appointment while making dinner.”)
But there’s more to app-based marketing than adding your offering to the App Store and counting downloads.
Many apps fail to engage consumers over the long haul. According to experts, 90% of people who download an app stop using it within 6 months. This may leave you wondering whether a branded app is worth the development costs.
The answer is a vehement yes! Find out why so many hospital apps fail and learn the key considerations and features that will make your organization’s app habit-forming.90% of people who download an app stop using it within 6 months. Is a hospital-branded app worth the investment? YES. See why. Click To Tweet
The Value of a Hospital-Branded App
You already have a website. And if you’re all about healthcare consumerism, it contains information and functionality that answers users’ most pressing questions. So why is an app necessary? Expediency.
Websites can have hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pages. From physician profiles to specialized clinics, websites describe everything that makes your organization special.
But some users may not want to read about your organization. They want to interact with it.
Apps enable users to cut to the chase, which is especially helpful when using a smartphone. Apps fast-track the ability to complete specific tasks online — request a refill, make an appointment, pay a bill, ask a question. And when they have the right functionality, apps are more likely to generate revenue and enhance patient loyalty.
Yet many of the hospital-branded apps available today are underutilized. Among the nation’s largest hospitals, research suggests only 2% of patients use the brand’s mobile app.
Why So Many Hospital Apps Fail
If hospital apps are so valuable, why are so few people using them? And why do the majority of them get abandoned after just a few sessions? Simply put, they fail to meet users’ needs. Only 11% of the top U.S. hospitals’ apps include patients’ most desired functions.If hospital apps are so valuable, why are so few people using them? They fail to meet users’ needs. Only 11% of the top U.S. hospitals’ apps include patients’ most desired functions. #hcmktg Click To Tweet
Fail #1: App dev is not equal to web dev
It’s a common practice to build apps in-house by tapping the web development team. This results in basic functionality that’s fairly similar to — you guessed it — your website.
But app development requires a unique skill set — specifically, the expertise of software engineers and app user interface designers. Without them, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to build the functionality people want.
Fail #2: Poor UX
Another reason for low adoption rates is poor user experience. Some apps feel more like a mini website. (Because they were designed by in-house web developers!) Mobile users don’t have the patience for text-dense content in tiny font or lots of scrolling. They don’t want to hope they’ll end up on the right page after tapping on tiny links. And inputting more than one sentence of text? Fuhgeddaboutit!
Habit-forming apps have an intuitive and elegant interface with lots of white space. Buttons and dropdown menus make it easy to navigate menus and input data. They also perform well, meaning they load quickly on various platfoHrms (iPhone, Android, etc.).
Key Development Considerations for Habit-Forming Apps
As you’re thinking about your mobile app strategy, consider outsourcing. This will be expensive. But when you work with specialists, you’ll get the app you are looking for. And they are more likely to get the work done quickly so your organization can reap the rewards of an awesome app.
A quality hospital-branded app simplifies users’ lives:
- Eliminates phone calls for relatively straightforward inquiries
- Eases the stress of being sick by quickly connecting patients to information and providers
- Makes it easier to keep up with ongoing care needs
How your app may pay for itself over time:
- Generates more appointments and turns would-be no-shows into rescheduled visits
- Supports transactions, like medical record inquiries and self-check-in, that create efficiency for clinical teams and their staff
- Makes it easier to collect revenue through features such as online bill pay
10 Functions That Make Hospital Apps Habit-Forming
Now that you know why so many hospital-branded apps fail, make sure your organization is not one of them. Secure the services of a top-notch developer. And try to include as many in-demand functions as possible.
Functions that will have users coming back to your hospital’s app again and again include:
- Real-time notification and review of lab results
- Access to new patient paperwork and other forms
- Scheduling, modifying or canceling appointments
- Remote urgent care check-in
- Secure physician messaging
- Medical record requests and patient portal access
- Patient support chatbots for users who need assistance
- Medication and appointment reminders
- Telehealth access
- Prescription refill requests
Excellent Examples of Hospital-Branded Apps
University of Miami Health System’s app offers easy, secure medical record login. This feature can help patients access information about their care without contacting your organization’s medical records department.
Blessing Health System’s app offers mobile urgent care check-in. Other features, like number of patients being seen, help users plan their visit.
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s app has mobile-friendly navigation that lets patients schedule an appointment with just a few taps. This feature makes it easier for patients to fit care into their busy schedule.
Texoma Medical Center’s app has a secure online bill pay feature that sends real-time payment confirmation. This feature, coupled with app-based bill reminders, can decrease payment lag and help justify development costs.
Don’t Forget to Market Your App!
Your hospital-branded app is an excellent means for promoting your brand, but you need to let people know it’s out there. Healthcare consumers want convenience. But they might not realize that your organization’s app provides it.
This type of marketing requires tactics you might not be familiar with, like App Store optimization. In an upcoming blog post, we’ll explain the must-haves of a mobile app marketing strategy.