In healthcare, as in many areas of life today, more and more people are turning to their smartphones when they want to get something done. According to a recent Harris poll, 59 percent of all health-insured patients—and 70 percent of millennial patients—said they would select a primary care physician who offered a patient mobile app over one that did not. 

With this pressure from consumers, healthcare providers must either incorporate mobile technology or risk losing patients. A recent survey found that 90 percent of patients said they would not stay with a practice that doesn’t provide the digital experience they seek. Yet just 10 percent of respondents said their primary care physician enabled communication through an app on a mobile device, and only 7 percent said their doctor could support communications via texting or instant messaging.

Offering a mobile experience may soon feel like a baseline requirement for providers, but it can be so much more. If correctly developed as part of a larger digital strategy, mobile apps have the ability to improve the patient experience, facilitate better long-term care, and encourage lifelong patient loyalty.

A recent study found that 72 percent of patients over 65 were interested in getting digital reminders to stay healthy, while 63 percent said they would utilize daily digital support to managing an ongoing health issue. By providing patients with an easy-to-use interface to manage these concerns, for example, healthcare providers could strengthen their relationship to patients and collect data that better allows them to provide care.

“The thing that we’re most after here is establishing a different kind of relationship with our patients,” said Laura Semlies, who is partnering with Formativ Health to redesign the digital patient experience at Northwell Health. “There’s a whole category of things that don’t fall into going to the doctor that define healthcare in a patient’s mind, whether that means exercise, diet, whether that means massages and vitamins, and supplements, all sorts of things.”

As providers build out their mobile capabilities, it is important to ensure that these technological developments aren’t piecemeal. To create a comprehensive, supportive relationship with patient, healthcare systems need to develop an end-to-end holistic approach that meets patient needs and ensures quality care, regardless of what channel the patient uses to access their healthcare. 

These avenues lead healthcare provides to a new understanding of the demands—and opportunities—of the digital front door.

“Once you have your arms around all of the interactions that are happening, then you can begin to understand which interactions within my patient population we could begin to digitize or automate, or eliminate with better education or information sharing with our patients,” said David Harvey, Chief Technical Officer at Formativ Health.  “We need to meet consumers where they are.”

In this day and age, that means healthcare providers must be ready for patients whether they show up in person, make a phone call, or—inevitably—just want to scroll through their phones.

To learn more about the best ways to develop an effective end-to-end digital strategy, check out our white paper “Building the Digital Front Door.”