It's been about four years since healthcare providers began to seriously consider mobile applications as a new channel for communicating with their patients. In that time hospitals have experimented with many app-enabled patient engagement pilots, and some -- mostly quietly -- launched patient-facing apps. Over the course of the past few months MobiHealthNews has been scouring the Apple and Google app stores for these apps as part of the data gathering efforts of our newest report, which launches this morning: The 205 Hospital-branded Apps for Patients.
As might be expected, many of these apps offer the type of features that a hospital looking to meet future patient engagement-related requirements of Meaningful Use would be focused on. Those include features like facility locators, physician directories, educational content, and appointment booking. A few even offer health trackers of various stripes, medication reminders, Rx refills, and secure messaging.
MobiHealthNews found that of the 205 hospital-branded smartphone apps in the Apple AppStore and Google Play store, 34 were from children’s hospitals. That means about 17 percent of hospital branded apps available today come from children’s hospitals. Parents of sick children are typically thought to be very engaged patient advocates and eager to adopt tools like these. A few of the more creative apps from hospitals are games designed for kids that help them learn about their conditions and procedures or, like the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin's app Keep Spriggy Safe, how to stay safe around the house.
Surprisingly, a handful of hospital apps include fitness trackers. Yes, despite the thousands of apps focused on fitness already some hospitals are looking to get a toehold on running apps, too. MobiHealthNews found seven hospital-branded apps for patients had some kind of fitness tracking component as a focus or as part of their offering.
Depending on how you look at it, 205 patient apps from hospitals is a fairly small number. Only about 3 percent of healthcare facilities in the US offer some kind of branded app. Of course, many more might be pointing their patients to their EHR provider's patient-facing app, which generally is not re-skinned and white-labeled to appear to be an app from the hospital itself. Considering the many features that Epic System's MyChart app for patients offers, it might be that the EHR vendors are the ones likely to lead mobile-enabled patient engagement initiatives for hospitals. Other apps like Aetna's iTriage have long pointed to hospital-branded apps as their competition. Companies like iTriage ask: Why create your own branded app when you could be a part of an app that offers many of those same marketing opportunities and already has an install base of millions of patients in the US?
The latest report from MobiHealthNews, 205 Hospital-branded Apps for Patients, discusses these questions and more. It includes analysis of the many different types of hospital apps for patients available today, a brief history of app-enabled patient engagement initiatives, a full list of hospital-branded apps with links to their download pages, and much, much more. Get your copy over at the MobiHealthNews Research Store Today!