Why Healthcare Providers Should Be More Mobile-Friendly

It’s no secret that the mobile revolution is in full swing and shows no signs of slowing. As of June 2013 61 percent of Americans have smartphones and 91 percent of them keep their phones within arms reach 24 hours a day. That’s tens of millions of people who are on their mobile devices all day every day listening to music, watching videos, keeping up with their social networks and surfing the Internet.

One of the most searched topics is healthcare, since 72 percent of users say they looked up health questions over the last year. As a healthcare provider if you don’t possess mobile content for your website, you could be missing out on serious revenue.

Thirty three percent of all current patients already use mobile devices for healthcare questions and scheduling appointments, but if 61 percent of people have mobile devices then why isn’t that number just as high? That’s because 61 percent of all mobile users also say that if they don’t find what they are looking for on a website almost immediately, they will leave and look elsewhere.

You can also lose mobile users if your site doesn’t load within 5 seconds. If your website contains a lot of videos, tons of data or large flashy ads, the average mobile user won’t wait around long enough for all of that to load. Having a separate, simplified version of your website ready for mobile users would help retain that group of people.

If your website is already relatively simple or you just want visitors to experience your site for everything it is, you can make your website smarter by enabling it to adjust itself according to whatever type of device is trying to access it. Doing so will automatically adjust the pages to fit perfectly into the screen of a mobile device, tablet or PC.

How small practices can attract mobile users

Don’t let being a small practice keep you from your share of the revenue that mobile users could bring! Almost 70 percent of mobile users who find a mobile friendly site are likely to use their services and will contact your office to set an appointment. By utilizing the proper combination of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools and Marketing Automation, you can supply every patient with the perfect experience and have them telling their friends and family about you.

Marketing Automation can gather a ton of information about a patient, including what pages they visit, what services they use and how often they use them, as well as what type of device they are using. Applying this data, the system can offer other services or CRM tools to the patient that they could find interesting. Additionally similar offers can go out to other patients who show similar patterns. The services and tools used by patients can also be funneled into the automation to provide even more data as to what services are producing a good ROI and which ones are not.

So what types of services and CRM tools can you incorporate into your mobile site that will make you stand out from others?

Self-scheduling is a great tool for those people who work late and have trouble calling during regular business hours. By syncing the site up to a scheduling calendar, people could select and schedule open slots without having to call in to the office. The system would send them a confirmation automatically based on the actions of the patient.

Notifications can also be sent out regarding any paperwork that a patient may need to pick up, from prescription refills to any other correspondence that needs to go out from the doctor to the patient. This system can also push notifications about any upcoming appointments that may be scheduled and whether the patient has paperwork that needs to be filled out or has samples to bring with them.

Online check-in is another convenience for mobile users, allowing them the ability to check into the office computer when they are on their way. With the right applications working together, once a patient selects “check-in” on their mobile device, which should be bold and easy to find, a notification would pop-up on a receptionist’s screen. This would allow them to prepare the patient’s file and gather any paperwork that may need to be filled out prior to their arrival.

Mobile bill pay is also a great way to collect patient revenue as the amount of people using mobile devices to pay bills grew by 41 percent in 2012. Additionally, 76 percent of mobile users who already pay their utility bills via mobile devices would like to be able to pay medical bills, as well. This benefit also helps reduce overhead and can shorten the billing-to-payment time greatly.

How large healthcare providers can benefit

Hospitals and large healthcare conglomerates could benefit from all of these services. As their budgets are incrementally larger, however, they could offer additional services that may not be feasible for smaller family practices.

Mobile bill pay is stated above, however, the money that can be saved is decisively larger. Hospitals have huge billing departments as they deal with hundreds of people a day. Since bill pay systems are Internet based, large stacks of paper bills and mailings aren’t necessary. With a few simple strokes of the keyboard, the patient’s bill is sent off to their email. The patient retrieves the email from his/her smartphone, taps on the bill pay link and a few simple steps later their payment is submitted, thus reducing all the overhead in traditional paper billing and the hospital receiving their payments days before.

Access to patient records is something that is finally being seen across the nation in an online format; however, mobile friendly versions have yet to really make the scene. Much of this is due to stringent HIPAA rules, although there are security protocols that can be put into place to protect patient’s privacy and still provide them the mobile experience. For example, banking systems allow mobile users to access their accounts. A mobile user can download a free app that acts as a portal to their records. The app contains a log-in and strict password and upon first use must be confirmed by the user via email so the system would recognize that device for future use. The site itself is extremely secure and all the data accessed and viewed on the mobile device is encrypted.

Doctor/nurse chat line is already offered via the phone, but for the mobile user it’s all about online chat capability. The mobile user craves the ability to chat with a healthcare professional about a question or concern they may be facing across multiple platforms. This service can be provided by the same healthcare professionals answering the phones, without having to add anyone to the department, but via the computer, much the same way technical chat support is offered by cell phone and cable companies.

Finding the right services that work for your business

Whatever your niche occupies in the healthcare landscape, having the right mobile services can increase your clientele base and help reduce overhead. Whether by adding some simple mobile features to your website or completing an entire program of activities for the mobile user, your company must offer some mobile solutions or risk falling out of touch with this growing population of people.

 Written by Jerrime Castle

Recently working as a free-lance journalist covering video game news and reviews, Jerrime Castle is currently interning on esd’s Content Development team. With degrees from the University of Washington in Creative Writing and ITT Technical Institute in Visual Communications, Jerrime possess a wide range of both creative and technical knowledge. 

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