With more and more hospitals beginning to launch mobile apps within the past few years, you may be wondering: are they actually being used to improve metrics like patient satisfaction scores? One trend we’ve noticed at MobileSmith is that hospitals are moving away from the one-app-fits-all model, to providing apps that are more helpful for patients to actually use. When branded mobile apps became more common in hospitals around 2013, many providers launched a single app that very closely resembled their website.

What became apparent over time, according to an Accenture study, is that the usability and adoption of these apps was limited. After all, consumers on mobile devices usually download an app when they are looking to accomplish something specific, instead of using keeping an app to browse general information they can just access from a website.

Instead of opting for only one ‘general hospital app’, providers are looking for apps that help improve HCAHPs scores, and improve the experience in various service lines. Here are 3 ways you can use apps to improve your patient satisfaction scores:

Convenient Access to Important Pamphlets and Documents

The resources patients need aren’t always viewed or distributed to them in an efficient or safe manner. Patients may decide to search for answers online, from sources not recommended by your hospital. One example are those ‘what-to-expect’ booklets for expecting moms. In the event that a mom has a question, these binders are helpful, but not always convenient or available. Instead of relying on paper resources, South Shore Hospital decided to create a dedicated mobile app.  The app does a much better job at providing instant access to patients in a moment of need. Questions like:

  • “What foods should I avoid when experiencing XYZ?”
  • “What is the best way to reach my OB/GYN specialist?”
  • “When are maternity classes available in January?”
  • “Is it normal to experience XYZ after pregnancy?”

The task of simply providing answers in a timely manner for patients can be one of the most important factors in receiving high patient satisfaction scores.

 They Provide Transparency – From the Waiting Room to Checkout

When is the last time you found yourself in a crowded waiting room? If you’re like myself, it happens at least a few times per month. When consumers visit a salon, pizza chain, or other venue, it’s becoming an expectation to know how long it will take to be serviced. I don’t usually even leave my house if I can check an ETA on an order I’ve placed. No one wants to wait any longer than they have to.

For ER and Urgent Care centers, making wait times available for patients before entering has been key for several health systems. Tanner Health launched an app that does just that. It displays wait times at any one of their four Urgent Care centers located throughout Georgia. Patients can then select which one is closest to them (with the shortest estimated wait time) in the event of an emergency.

Another example of this technology we’ve seen implemented is with Inspira Healthcare Network. Check it out the app they created in this video:

Hospitals like Cleveland Clinic have also performed patient satisfaction studies, and found that wait times were a key contributor to dissatisfied patents. The study also found that patients placed an importance on their doctors keeping them informed at all times.

This is one of the primary reasons why hospitals are choosing to prescribe apps to patients. Take pregnancy care, for example. These apps are packed with features like milestones, packing lists, and what to expect throughout each stage of pregnancy. The same can be said for pre-surgery applications that remind patients when to take medications, or when to stop eating the night before surgery.

Hospital Pregnancy App

They Improve the Experience for First Time Visitors

Confusing parking lots, entrances, or hallways sometimes makes for unhappy customers. Studies indicate that facility design and ease of navigation can have an impact on patient satisfaction and the perception of your facility. If you’re looking for more information on how to solve this challenge with a custom wayfinding solution, click here to learn more. We have several wayfinding options available for health systems looking into implement apps that improve the navigation experience.

In addition to wayfinding, improving the consumer experience using mobile check-in and in-app surveys are another great mobile strategy that is already being implemented outside of healthcare.

recent study by Vanguard Communications highlighted the most common patient satisfaction complaints, with patient-provider communication topping the list.  Others areas we’re looking into helping our clients solve include:

  • Communication
  • Long Wait Times
  • Practice Staff Issues
  • Billing Issues

The study found that patient satisfaction many times isn’t based on the actual care delivered, but rather the communication and waiting room experience that needs to be addressed. In areas of stiff competition, providing a good first impression on mobile will be key to reach millennials and other patient groups. Instead of focusing on making your EMR/EHR accessible via mobile, one of the most effective ways we’ve seen to improve satisfaction is by actually providing simple apps that solve real problems. Check out these health app blueprints for a few ideas we’ve helped health systems launch quickly.

To learn more about how your hospital could boost patient satisfaction at your hospital using apps, click here to request a consultation.