New Jersey hospital's app aims to enhance consumer experience

An app recently launched by New Jersey-based Hackensack University Medical Center allows patients to access health records, make appointments and search for physicians with the click of a button.

The app became available to patients earlier this month on iOS operating systems, though getting the tool just right took time, according to Becker's Health IT & CIO Review. It also allows patients to check symptoms, get directions to local healthcare facilities and look up emergency room wait times.

"We knew it had to be functional, usable and reliable," Shafiq Rab, M.D., chief information officer at HackensackUMC, tells Becker's. "But there are two additional things we wanted that don't get consideration often enough in healthcare IT: We wanted using the app to be meaningful and pleasurable."

All the functions the app provides aren't just the work of developers, but also nurses, physicians, markets and IT staff, Rab adds.

As more health systems look to mobile apps as a way to engage patients and improve care quality, tapping into talent throughout the organization, and beyond, is becoming more important. For example, NewYork-Presbyterian recently announced an app challenge and "appathon" to get inspiration from clinicians, developers, the public and members at NYP's university partners.

However, there's still much room to grow in hospitals' use of apps; a recent report found that healthcare providers are "woefully inadequate" in offering consumers mobile apps, with hospitals engaging less than 2 percent of patients with such tools.

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