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By Medical Web Experts • August 25, 2017

The mHealth App Experience

Healthcare innovation teams and Health IT solution vendors are helping to bring providers and care delivery networks into the age of the healthcare consumer. And while the technical challenges of building a HIPAA-compliant mobile app should not be underestimated, overcoming this challenge has diverted attention from UX.

When implementing a feature, mHealth app development teams have several variables to keep
in mind:
➔ Does the feature add value to the user?
➔ Does the functionality enhance or detract from the user experience?
➔ Does my team have the availability and skill-set necessary to implement a user-friendly
functionality for this feature?

Solving the technical challenges associated with developing a patient facing mHealth application has become much easier with platforms like CloudMine. However, the care and attention necessary to apply user-centric design and development principles are a real opportunity for innovators to set themselves apart.

This approach is not new for most consumer apps on the market. UX has become almost second nature to most successful companies in Silicon Valley. But it wasn’t always that way. It wasn’t long ago when some of the biggest brands out there were publishing beautifully designed apps that were visually stunning - but nearly impossible for users to navigate. Websites went much the same way. Websites were fairly rudimentary and focused more on claiming a piece of digital real estate than anything.

The good news is that, as markets have become more accustomed to new media, devices and formats, development teams and designers become more astute at leveraging them and increasing their ability to engage their end consumer and audience. Whether it is creating “stickiness” for social apps or making checkout easier with e-commerce apps, other markets have embraced the need for understanding, implementing and experimenting with the unique interaction and relationship between users and technology.

So, just how prevalent is this lack of UX in branded hospital app development today? To answer that question, Medical Web Experts analyzed 22 of the top health systems in the country that offer branded patient facing mobile apps.

The analysis evaluated each app on the following items:
➔ Whether the application was available to iOS users, Android users, or both
➔ Features and functionalities offered
➔ Quality of user experience
➔ Number of downloads across app stores
➔ User ratings across app stores

The results might surprise you. Of the health system apps investigated, all 22 were available in the iOS store, with only seven available on Android. What’s more, beyond this failure to cater to the Android patient audience, a number of other drawbacks were seen across apps. One finding was that the functionalities offered by mHealth app features were limited, with health systems often choosing to implement functionalities that are ease and timesaving on the development side but detrimental to the overall user experience and value of the app. Descriptions of functionalities in the app stores were often also found to be misleading. Furthermore, the
healthcare app features that patients are most interested in, were still often inexistent and they were not always assembled into single applications, often times leading to a multiplicity of apps within one health system. As evidence to these drawbacks, low app download numbers and poor app ratings were commonplace.

While today’s mHealth market has grown, there is still much room for improvement. Healthcare mobile app development offers a plethora of opportunities for health systems, provider networks and health IT innovators that have not been tapped. To continue to make headway, embracing the possibilities that mHealth has to offer, health delivery networks will need to focus on meeting patient expectations and demand - in other words, placing more emphasis on the user experience for the patient population that will be using the app. They will need to provide singular, branded apps with the functionalities that patients want to drive usage and adoption as well as the metrics that healthcare organizations need for achieving optimal patient outcomes and increased reimbursement for providers.

Medical Web Experts is a leading provider of custom web development and marketing solutions for the healthcare industry, meeting sector’s the increasing demand for HIPAA-compliant technology and digital patient services. Medical Web Experts work with outpatient groups, hospitals, integrated delivery networks, pharmacies, laboratories, medical device manufacturers and software vendors to help them meet their online presence objectives. Medical Web Experts’ broad service offering includes patient portal solutions, mobile app development, custom software/app development, interface development, web design and internet marketing. Medical Web Experts creatively help clients to gain competitive edge leveraging the latest technologies to improve efficiency, enhance their web presence and improve patient engagement.        LinkedIn         Twitter        Facebook        YouTube