Hospitals engage less than 2 percent of patients with mobile apps

Healthcare providers are "woefully inadequate" in offering consumers mobile apps, with hospitals engaging less than 2 percent of patients with such tools, despite the fact that 54 percent of consumers want to use a smartphone to interact with their providers.

What's more, less than 11 percent of providers offer proprietary apps featuring at least one of three functions wanted by users, and patients rate provider apps lower in value than apps from independent developers due to poor user experience and lack of functionality, according to a new Accenture Consulting report.

Providers must shore up mobile efforts if they want to keep customers coming through the doors and boost revenue, the report's authors say.

"As digital patient engagement becomes the norm and consumers grow discontent with their providers' lack of mobile services, they could decide to flee to competitors," the report notes. "Providers need to meet consumer expectations by going mobile and creating user experiences unique to the mobile touchpoint to close the growing gap between what's being delivered and consumers' ever evolving expectations."

Providers are at a critical crossroads with digital health technology. There will be a seismic shift in the next four years, predicts ACT | The App Association, as the connected health market is projected to hit $117 billion by 2020; 86 percent of clinicians believe mobile apps will be central to patient health. Consumers are hungry for mHealth features, with more than one third of adult smartphone owners claiming they are healthier thanks to health apps and features, according to a report published last month from Apigee.

Still, app functionality is becoming increasing sophisticated. As FierceMobileHealthcare reported diabetes apps and mobile digital health devices are fast advancing from tracking and collecting blood sugar readings to more comprehensive capabilities.

The Accenture report also finds that 66 percent of the largest 100 U.S. hospitals provide apps, but that less than 40 percent of that subset have built proprietary apps. 

Dissatisfied consumers have no qualms about switching providers, according to Accenture, with approximately 7 percent of patients making a change due to poor customer experience.

For more information:
- read the Accenture report (.pdf)