Why Hospitals Need to Keep Usability at the Center of Their Mobile Strategy?
The world is mobile now, literally and figuratively.
You can do almost nothing without a smartphone. From calling people to ordering food, checking stock prices, or watching films, everything is possible on that little device you carry in your hands. Today, there are almost 2.46 million apps on the Google Play store and 1.96 million apps on Apple’s App Store. Studies also reveal that by 2020, there will be 6.5 billion smartphone devices in the world. That’s almost 80% of the world’s population! With more people shifting from desktop to mobile and Google announcing its mobile-first indexing strategy, businesses have started to shift their focus towards their mobile strategies.
For the healthcare industry as well, mobile has become a very powerful medium to meaningfully connect patients with healthcare providers, increase the productivity of caregivers, and streamline hospital operations. Before we get into the role of mobile in healthcare, let us first understand what does mobile app usability mean?
What is mobile app usability?
Mobile app usability implies making the app as user-friendly as possible. Here are a few ways in which companies make their apps user-friendly.
- Ease of use: Companies understand that mobile app users do not have the patience to fill their details manually or enter the same details again and again. That’s why the apps offer options such as auto-fill forms and choosing default payment settings to minimize the efforts of the users.
- Seamless navigation: Confusing navigation can dissuade the user from engaging with an app as it would lead them to nowhere. App designers need to focus on building seamless navigation so that there is a logical way in which users can find the required information and take the desired action.
- Fonts and layout: The font and layout should give enough clarity to drive the user to take the desired action. Small font size or illegible font type could drive the user away from the app. Similarly, highly visible colors and the call-to-action buttons make the app easy to use.
- Device-friendly: Every device has a different resolution, and the mobile OS versions change frequently. This could vary the experience for different users. It is, therefore, crucial to ensure that the app delivers a consistent experience across different devices and OS.
Why should healthcare institutions care about mobile usability?
To answer that question, let’s take a scenario as an example.
Take the case of a patient who is scheduled for a critical surgery in a hospital. A few days before the surgery, she needs to take some specific care, including following a particular diet and regularly doing some exercises. That apart, she also needs to monitor her blood sugar levels periodically and update the doctor about it. She is anxious about the surgery, and the doctor wants to help her prepare better for the same. In a traditional environment, the doctor would prescribe the diet and exercises and leave it up to the patient to follow the same. In a modern, digital, mobile-enabled world, the hospital will connect the patient to the doctor and other caregivers through a mobile app. The doctor will share educational videos, diet charts, and exercise routines through the app. The patient will update the doctor about the vital parameters regularly. In case of any questions, the patient will directly ask those through the app and get instant responses without the need to visit the hospital.
This is what mobile healthcare apps aim to do. They are changing the way patients interact with healthcare and pharmaceutical companies. It is safe to say that people prefer to use it as the first point of contact with the healthcare company before using different channels. Healthcare mobile apps have become so popular that Zion Market Research predicts that the global apps market for healthcare to reach USD 111.1 Billion by 2025 and grow at a CAGR of 38.26% between 2019 and 2025.
As more and more chronic diseases become prevalent, pharmaceutical companies and healthcare companies are leveraging mobile apps to help patients manage their medical records, book appointments, access health reports, and monitor their progress with just a tap of their fingers.
That’s why mobile usability has become so important. It makes the entire experience seamless for the patient. If you want your patients to engage with your app and use it as the first point of contact, you have to work towards improving the usability of your app.
How to improve the mobile usability of your healthcare app
- Determine the objective: Before developing the app, understand who the user of the app is – patient, doctor, or hospital staff? Define what do you want the users to achieve through the app. One also needs to understand the criticality of the users’ actions through the app.
- Pay attention to security and privacy: Healthcare is a highly regulated industry where even a slight breach of privacy or data could result in major legal suits and a dent in brand image. Ensure that your app adheres to the compliance rules and is regularly checked for security and data breaches.
- Ensure seamless navigation: No matter who is the user of the app, it needs to be extremely easy to use and should offer seamless navigation. For example, if the apps are designed for use by patients, understand the most likely actions they would like to perform through the app and provide prominent navigation options for those. If the apps are intended to be used by doctors, then one needs to understand that they need access to a lot of information quickly to make more informed decisions.
- Test, fix, repeat: In a regulated industry like healthcare, it is advisable to test your app for loopholes to avoid troubles in the future. You need to frequently test your app to safeguard it from security attacks, frequent crashes, ensure that it is optimized before the release.
- Make your app visually attractive: Who said healthcare apps have to be dull and boring? Statistics reveal that healthcare apps with clear data representation and attractive layout, design, and content have more potential to retain users. So, do not limit your creativity due to the industry. Let your imagination run free to make the app as functional and visually attractive as possible.
Mobile has dominated the healthcare ecosystem – from access to clinical information to collaboration with care teams, communication with patients, and real-time patient monitoring, mobile apps are changing the healthcare dynamics. Forward-looking healthcare institutions have strong mobile strategies as a critical part of their smart hospital plans. Are you ready?