patient referralsAs a marketer, patient referrals are impacting your bottom line, whether you know it or not.  An estimated 20 to 40 percent of patients who receive referrals from physicians never even complete them, leaving money on the table for providers across the country.

When searching for care options, word-of-mouth still is a powerful patient referral mechanism for your most loyal brand promoters. Here are a few ways  to impress patients and influence others with mobile:

 Bring new use cases to life

Accenture recently reported that a majority of hospital apps go unused because they fail to offer the functions patients want.  Patients aren’t seeing much benefit, and providers are discovering how expensive mobile developers are considering the return on investment.  If a process could be simplified (like appointment scheduling), could this be the deciding factor for frustrated patients and providers?

Across the country, we’re seeing a few select hospitals create apps that put patients first – from wayfinding apps to apps that guide patients through the surgery process.  Having specialists recommend their own apps to patients could benefit these early adopters by creating a unique experience patients can’t help but talk about.

Offer perks for downloading and sharing

Loyalty programs are everywhere outside of healthcare, from Starbucks and free cups of coffee to the new Chick-fil-A app that I now use pretty frequently to rack up rewards.  What if you could offer an incentive for simply downloading or referring a friend?  From giveaways at the gift shop to other freebies, mobile rewards programs may have the potential to benefit healthcare systems just like it has in retail.

Respond to feedback using agile principles

Current patients influence future patients, so you’ll want your most loyal users satisfied.  In this digital age where patients are leaving reviews on sites like Yelp or in the app stores, being able to respond to feedback quickly goes a long way.  This process can take a long time if app development is outsourced, and costs can quickly skyrocket.

Keeping content up to date can be done by your marketing department these days, and app reviews and comments can be acted on immediately.

Put patients at the center of your mobile strategy

One problem that many providers haven’t yet figured out is how to create apps patients will consider important enough to share with friends.  Imagine how viral a pregnancy app may be if one mom shares her experience with another mom, who is considering a competitor for labor and delivery.

With 165,000 mHealth apps in the app stores, providing apps that are actually useful is key.  Getting patients excited enough to mention their mobile experience might just be the foot in the door you need.

What type of mobile apps or features would possibly boost patient referrals for your organization? Let us know, and ask how you can get started creating apps in-house.

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