Your correspondent is avidly learning about health apps for patients.
As described here, half of U.S adults now own a smartphone, half of them use them to obtain health information and approximately a fifth have at least one health app loaded on their device.
Regular readers are well aware of the potential for health apps, including lay-person education, the promotion of consumer behavior change, increased consumer-provider connectivity with greater access to care, better medication compliance as well as medication reconciliation, increased self-care, greater quality and lower costs.
But as this author’s e-health experience grows, he has encountered two under-recognized features of apps that – in his opinion – are sure to also drive their adoption:
1. The Provider App Arms Race: As competition for loyal patients grows, health systems, care organizations, insurers, buyers and provider networks are going to expect their apps to create greater consumer “stickiness.” For example, offering a tablet with a pre-configured app may enable hospitals to not only reduce readmissions, but enhance their brand recognition.
2. The App Is the Outcome: It will take years for science to prove that apps cause better outcomes. While lingering skepticism will prove to be another bonanza for outfits like this, the luster of smart-device gadgetry will be too much to resist. As a result, it’s only a matter of time until Boards and their CEOs pressure their management teams to launch their own app. While the electronic record and big data are important advances, let’s face it: they’re in the background. There’s nothing like a patient-facing app to remind customers, families and providers of the organization’s health tech chops.
Jaan Sidorov, MD, is a primary care internist and former Medical Director at Geisinger Health Plan with over 20 years experience in primary care, disease management and population-based care coordination. He shares his knowledge and insights at Disease Management Care Blog, where an earlier version of this post first appeared.