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May 31, 2018
PROVIDERS SHOULD EMBRACE MOBILE STRATEGIES TO EMPOWER PATIENTS AND LOWER COSTS
By: Asher Perzigian

How the right digital solutions can give you some quick mobile wins

Mobile technology can help hospitals diagnose patients remotely, route them to care more efficiently and reduce strain on emergency rooms. So why aren’t more provider organizations more quickly following a mobile strategy?

Public demand for mobile is clear. According to Accenture’s 2018 Consumer Survey on Digital Health, 75 percent of consumers want digital technology to help manage their health. In the U.S. alone, virtual healthcare could save the healthcare industry billions of dollars annually. What is now an opportunity play for providers will quickly become a critical survival strategy. Smaller hospital systems that deferred the early adoption risk can’t afford to wait longer.

It’s time more provider organizations got serious about mobile strategy by staking out some quick mobile wins.

Consider the emergency room. Emergency departments are expensive and, unknowingly to patients, often overused. But in times of medical need, patients often don’t know of other options for where to go or what to do in the moment. Many times patients could be treated as effectively, and less expensively, at a clinic or urgent-care facility. Providers can offer patients “find-care” mobile app functionality so they can instantly locate the nearest and most suitable same-day care option or get connected to a nurse hotline. We need to better enable patients to use mobile to easily make the right decisions and find the care they need outside the emergency room.

Mobile offers other tools to alleviate inpatient demand, such as integrated video visits or text with a clinician. Have a strange-looking rash on your back? Snap a picture with your mobile device and discuss it with a clinician within minutes without leaving home. That is a real encounter which can be logged, coded, and billed by the provider without the resource and time drain of a hospital visit.

Payers need to more quickly take up the mobile banner as well, as a tool for price transparency and to help members determine which service providers are in their network. Mobile apps can geolocate users, direct them to the closest in-network care providers, and even book an appointment time.

Healthcare’s disconnect with technology has been glaring. For example, when it comes to virtual health, Accenture is tracking rising demand for such services across the board. Yet only 21 percent of consumers report ever receiving it. Only 16 percent say they have engaged in a remote consultation. As provider competition increases between hospital consolidation and new entrants, such as concierge medicine models which better consider patient experience, mobile is a key strategy to help providers (and, yes, don’t forget payers!) to get patients at the right time, to the right location, at the right level of service.

It could be that some providers are investing in mobile technology, but of the wrong kind. Maybe a mobile platform isn’t properly designed or being marketed correctly at the right touch points. A good mobile strategy should enable patients to find, compare, and book needed care across available channels. The right digital consumer tools and strategy when designed and deployed correctly will increase touchpoints and help address gaps in care.

Whatever the case, more can and must be done. At the moment, mobile remains highly underutilized as it relates to consumers needing to understand how to get the right care, and where to go. There is no business case for maintaining the status quo. Providers who don’t work now to increase their mobile profile with consumers will decrease their ability to remain relevant.