If there’s one thing you need to understand about the modern marketplace, it’s that embracing mobile technologies and functionality continues to be a dominant trait found among industry-leading brands and organizations. The world of healthcare and medical services is by no means an exception to this rule.
Though adopting a forward-thinking perspective on clinical and health-related apps is vital for the sustainability of hospitals and other institutions, it is pertinent to note that this transformation is not an easy or simple undertaking. In fact, the truth of the matter is that many organizations face these challenges as they embark upon the path towards increased technological mobility and the integration of apps and other similar digital products into their daily operations.
To ensure that your transition into a more mobile-friendly business outlook goes smoothly and avoids the issues that plague other organizations in this field, here’s a comprehensive and in-depth look at how to survive the top challenges facing the propagation of mobility within the healthcare industry.
Reviewing the Main Challenges Facing the Mobile Transformation of the Healthcare Industry
The best way to start this conversation is by addressing the main challenges that exist within the healthcare industry as far as mobile transformation is concerned. From a big picture perspective, these issues or obstacles to increased mobility can be segmented into two unique categories: Challenges faced by service provides and institutions and challenges faced by the patients who require healthcare services.
Challenges Faced by Healthcare Providers
“While this [the rise of mobile technologies in the healthcare industry] is exciting for patients and doctors alike, healthcare IT teams must reconcile the government red tape and employee concerns inevitable with new technologies.” – Scott Szymanski, AirWatch
As the above quote from Scott Szymanski of the AirWatch blog illustrates, the challenges faced by healthcare service providers arise from both internal and external sources. Specifically, Szymanski points towards security threats, complicated mobile systems, and patient engagement:
- Security Issues – Patient information is a vital piece of the puzzle when it comes to swiftly diagnosing health problems, as well as resolving billing and other payment issues. However, with over 50 percent of all healthcare institutions experiencing at least one cyberattack – and one in three of these attacks ending up as a success for the offending parties – a mobile storage and retrieval system that handles this sensitive data must be resilient to outside intrusions and other security threats.
- Complexity in Mobile Systems – Security will always be the top priority for the designers and developers of these mobile digital healthcare products, but simplicity and ease-of-use are also major considerations. Devices and apps that are difficult to use or implement hinder the work of doctors and other staff members, thereby negating any gains in efficiency that would otherwise occur via the adoption of mobile technologies.
- Bolstering Patient Engagement – Keeping patients informed and engaged is vital for maintaining a strong relationship. This goal also plays an important part in enhancing the medical experience of these individuals and ensuring quality and transparency across engagements with multiple doctors and institutional departments. If the mobile app or service in question isn’t capable of delivering this data to patients and other users on the opposite side of this interaction, then it’s virtually impossible to provide quality healthcare services from a mobile perspective.
Each issue covered here presents a unique hurdle for both members of the healthcare industry and the developers that oversee the creation of mobile digital products on behalf of these institutions.
Challenges Faced by Patients
On the patient side of the equation, a number of external challenges also inhibit the growth of mobile apps and other digital products that can expedite and enhance a healthcare institution’s daily operations. In particular, Maged N. Kamel, Ann C. Brewer, et al. note in the Online Journal of Public Health Informatics via their academic paper, “Mobile Medical and Health Apps: State of the Art, Concerns, Regulatory Control, and Certification,” that ease of use, health literacy, and patient privacy are the three primary issues afflicting this side of the mobile healthcare app dynamic.
- Ease of Use – Much like the concerns of doctors facing down complex mobile systems, patients naturally shy away from apps and digital products that are unintuitive and hard to comprehend initially. Adding in the fact that the various portions of this secondary audience also approach the utilization of these products from a variety of different platforms – iOS, Android, Windows, etc. – and connected tools – glucometers, blood pressure monitors, and so forth – adds even more roadblocks to the adoption and integration process.
- Health Literacy – While doctors, registered nurses, and other healthcare professionals have a wide scope of medical understanding and health literacy at their disposal, the same can’t always be said for patients. These individuals require mobile apps and products that either bridge this gap in knowledge or adapt to the health literacy levels of the end users.
- Patient Privacy – As a parallel to the aforementioned security issues faced by healthcare providers, privacy is also a prime concern for patients. The private data of these end users is highly sensitive, and subject to compliance guidelines like those set forth by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). So, mobile offerings that fail to impart a sense of security and protection to patients have very little hope of truly being accepted by the target community.
While these considerations might initially seem to fit under the “bolstering patient engagement” challenge covered earlier, it’s important to break down each point in detail and understand the distinction between the experiences of both the healthcare provider and the patient.
Understanding Why This Transformation Is Essential
So if there are so many challenges facing the digital transformation of organizations within the healthcare industry into more digitally-savvy and tech-oriented institutions, why bother with this endeavor in the first place? The answer to this question lies in a singular, incontrovertible truth: Mobility is firmly at the center of the healthcare industry’s future.
“…There are now 70 million people in the U.S. who are using wearable tracking devices to monitor their physical activity, sleep patterns, calorie consumption, and a whole lot more.” – Bobbi Brown, Health Catalyst
In her look at the current and future trends found within the medical services world, Bobbi Brown of Health Catalyst notes that technology is rapidly augmenting how institutions and professionals alike operate within this sector. More patients than ever before – 70 million in the U.S., to be exact – are embracing “wearables” that collate data and provide insight into health conditions and concerns, so it’s essential for hospitals and services providers to recognize and accept this digital trend as part of an ongoing evolutionary process.
Even if you’re not quite ready to embrace the reality that Fitbits, FuelBands, and other wearable offerings are causing a radical shift within the overarching patient population, it’s still impossible to turn away from the fact that over 2.6 billion people currently own a smartphone or tablet globally- a number that is on track to reach 6.1 billion by 2020.
Outside of the fact that mobile technology continues to dominate the future prospects of the healthcare industry, Brown goes on to explain that two other major trends are also contributing to the increased importance of digital transformation: Patient-centered care and a rising demand for quality data.
Putting the patient at the center of the healthcare process not only improves patient satisfaction scores, but also bolsters engagement. Of course, patient-centric care requires interacting with these individuals on their own terms and via channels that they gravitate towards. So, having a strong mobile presence is a must if you plan on tapping into this trend.
“Both clinicians and administrative leaders are hungry for data to make decisions and guide their planning.” – Bobbi Brown, Health Catalyst
As for the rising demand for quality data, this change within the industry is all about providing better healthcare services and enhancing the quality of medical decisions and treatments. Mobile apps and digital products increase the volume of quality data flowing upstream to healthcare professionals. Hence, it makes plenty of sense for the leaders in this industry to leverage these tools as they continue to optimize and refine the overarching patient experience.
Breaking down the Various Solutions to This Dilemma Available to the Healthcare Industry
Now that you understand the issues facing mobility in the healthcare industry, and the fact that digital transformation is vital to the survival of your organization in this field, it’s time to start talking about viable mobility solutions that overcome these problems. According to PC Magazine’s Jill Duffy, surviving in this industry starts with embracing the challenges of the modern digital landscape and committing to a proactive stance on mobility.
“The real beauty of these apps is that, collectively, they are creating a more competitive marketplace for health and wellness services.” – Jill Duffy, PC Magazine
By aligning your institution or brand with a strong team of digital product developers, you can not only rise above the mobility challenges facing the healthcare industry, but also create a unique opportunity to enhance the patient-provider relationship and differentiate your organization from others in this marketplace.
Some great examples of these concepts in action:
1. Microsoft HealthVault App
As Duffy explains, this app blends an intuitive design – something patients need to better understand complex medical data – with a secure and trustworthy experience, thereby reducing usage complexity, negating privacy concerns, and bolstering patient engagement. Adding in the fact that HealthVault also integrates with healthcare professional portals, as well as medical devices, fitness trackers, and other peripheries, it’s a prime example of how to build a stronger bond between patients and service providers.
On the healthcare professional side of the equation, Stephanie Ocano of Global Healthcare magazine points to mobile offerings like Doximity to provide perspective on what a viable – and highly useful – app looks like within this industry.
2. Doximity App
The first thing to notice about Doximity is that it complies with HIPAA guidelines and other regulatory best practices. By placing a major emphasis on these security and privacy considerations, apps that follow in the footsteps of the largest medical professional network in the United States can overcome these specific hurdles and lay the foundation for useful and engaging functionality.
In terms of app-based functionality, Doximity leverages the power of HIPAA-secure communications to support connections between medical professionals and electronic document faxing. Additionally, this digital product also offers access to custom-curated medical content and career management tools, all within a simple and straightforward interface that avoids the complexity found within other mobile systems.
Whether you’re focusing on the service provider side of this process, leaning more towards tailoring an app to the needs of the patient population, or fall somewhere in between, the message here is clear: Solutions to the challenges and issues facing mobility in this industry are out there and ready to be implemented by the more intrepid and forward-thinking members of this community.
As you can see by now, putting all of this information together isn’t an easy or simple affair. From developing mobile apps that are easy to use (both for healthcare providers and patients), to maintaining a strong stance on security and privacy, there’s a lot that goes into this process; especially if you’re working on these apps in-house or without a strong understanding of digital product development’s best practices.
However, failing to embrace the hard work and effort needed to overcome these challenges and issues is an even worse idea considering that digital transformation is an inevitable force currently spreading throughout not only the healthcare industry, but the modern world in general, as well.
Fortunately, with the examples and solutions provided here – in addition to the help of a trusted team of mobile development experts – there’s no reason why your hospital or medical institution can’t survive these challenges and create a truly engaging mobile experience that more than meets the needs of its target audience. All that’s left to do now is get the wheels in motion and start working towards your mobile-friendly future today.
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