Challenging HIT’s DNA: Think big, start small, act fast

Sept. 26, 2017
David Sawin Vice President Product and Marketing, MobileSmith

Look around anywhere in the world, anytime of day, and you will see people staring at their phones. Some might say it is a public health epidemic, with sidewalk collisions and drivers who are texting. Others say that mobile phones, or more precisely the apps that run on them, have improved the human condition dramatically in the last decade—more than any other technology in recent history. The effect in healthcare has been more muted, and the hospital leaders I talk to say more needs to be done to leverage these devices to improve patient experience and, ultimately, health outcomes.

We know that Americans are attached to their smartphones, spending an average of 4.7 hours a day on a mobile device with 84.9% of that time spent in apps. Mobile usage surpassed desktop usage in November of 2016, and has been driving all digital growth since 2015. The average user checks their home screen 150 times per day and unlocks the phone 80 times a day.

Inspira Access built with MobileSmith

One of the more interesting explanations for this instinct is that smartphones, and mobile apps in particular, have come to fulfill many of the needs described in Maslow’s hierarchy—self-actualization, esteem, love and belonging, safety, and even our physiological needs. We travel, we share our accomplishments, we connect and “like” among like-minded individuals, we keep our affairs in order and we even track our well-being. Our phones have become indispensable because they accelerate and enhance the efficacy of meeting all of our needs, every day.

The key question for healthcare, then, is no longer whether to integrate mobile technology but how healthcare systems can fulfill the fundamental needs of health and welfare using this proven pathway. While medical treatments have benefitted greatly from the research and technology of the last several decades, the infrastructure of the healthcare industry has remained largely static and reliant upon the very staff-intensive procedures that have long been in place.

In looking at other industries, the impact of consumerization is clear—if an industry does not embrace mobile as a transformative influence, it will have to react to it as a disruptor. It is not enough to simply acknowledge mobile, nor is it in anyone’s best interests; the game-changing nature of mobile means the opportunity to do things better, smarter, more effectively, and with farther-reaching impact. It is no accident that the rise of mobile has coincided with the rise of consumerism: The way we interact with mobile technology places the world at our fingertips, personalized to our experience and available on-demand. This is the expectation patients bring to their health journey.

So how does a healthcare system that accounts for one-sixth of the US economy innovate quickly enough to keep up with the likes of a Silicon Valley startup? Where to begin—with telehealth, or remote check-in, or indoor wayfinding and location, with wearables or condition trackers, or medical research studies? The answer is found in a 2014 McKinsey study, which advised the healthcare industry to “think big, start small, and act fast” with regard to meeting consumer expectations.

Technology has proven impossible to predict, which is why the long technology planning cycles that are part of the health care DNA must be challenged. Rather than planning for version 6.0 of a digital health plan that is 10 years down the road, build version 1.0 now and position yourself to iterate based on results, feedback, and interaction with additional technologies.

I have seen this “agile” strategy work across industries, and believe it is the best way to deliver tailored applications that anticipate challenges and meet patient needs as they arise. These applications focus on small data that allows healthcare systems to get creative with wellness and precision medicine in the service of larger public health issues.

This includes a diabetes app that reduces the number of patients with A1C scores exceeding a high-risk threshold, improving life expectancy and quality of life while saving over $200,000 per 5% reduction. It includes an urgent care app that increases new patient acquisition for the healthcare system by providing a consumer-friendly remote check-in experience. It includes a pregnancy app that not only reduced printed paper costs with environmental benefits, but also raised HCAHPS scores 68% in only 6 months.

Mobile apps are a scalable, sustainable option to transform how we provide value to the patient and improve the quality of care while reducing costs. An opportunity to reach patients and caregivers and engage with them on a daily basis, beyond the reactive confines of an office visit, they become an integral part of their complete health journey. The key to digital health 2.0 is not the magical next big thing, it’s implementing familiar, proven technologies in an innovative and functional manner.

Sponsored Recommendations

Telehealth: Moving Forward Into the Future

Register now to explore two insightful sessions that delve into the transformative potential of telehealth and virtual care management solutions.

Telehealth: Moving Forward Into the Future

Register now to explore two insightful sessions that delve into the transformative potential of telehealth and virtual care management solutions.

How Gen AI is driving efficiency in the ED

Discover how Gen AI is revolutionizing efficiency in the Emergency Department (ED), enhancing patient care, and alleviating staffing challenges. Join Microsoft and Valley View...

7 Steps to Sharpen Your Healthcare Revenue Cycle

If you manage a healthcare revenue cycle, you know the road to quick, complete payments is rocky. Using decades of industry expertise and real-world data, we’ll help you develop...