When it comes to healthcare, two facts have always remained true: 1) patients want to stay informed of their benefits and costs, and 2) patients want to have a positive experience with their insurance and medical providers. Unfortunately, catering to both of these patient expectations is easier said than done.
Table of Content
Between trying to find an in-network provider, having to figure out insurance co-pays, obtaining medication approval forms, and dealing with the occasional unanticipated procedure cost—all while waiting what seems like ages to reach a representative on the phone for coverage or billing information, most people can agree that managing their healthcare plans is no small feat and that the patient experience is usually a rough one. Fortunately, mobile health apps can take much of the hassle out of these otherwise daunting tasks.
However, although mobile health apps have been around for several years now, the COVID-19 pandemic has made it blatantly clear that quick and easy access to one’s insurance plans, medical history, any upcoming or lingering expenses, and knowledgeable representatives is vital. The pandemic has also shone light on the need for companies in the MedTech industry to broaden the scope of the services offered within their mobile healthcare applications to ensure the needs of patients are fully met.
In this post, we’ll explore what mobile health apps are, their many benefits, how these types of MedTech applications have evolved due to the pandemic, and what features to include if you are considering developing a healthcare mobile app so it provides a seamless and optimal User Experience.
What Are Mobile Health Apps?
Mobile health apps are a convenient and effective way for users to obtain, track, manage, and make changes regarding their own personal health, the health of their dependants, or the health of persons they have been legally designated caretakers of.
Some apps provide access to insurance plan details, including Medicaid or Medicare plans, while others allow users to review their general medical records and diagnoses, whether per hospital or per individual practitioner office. Many health apps also allow users to communicate with their healthcare providers or request remote services, such as Telemed apps, right from their smartphones or tablets.
What Are the Benefits of Mobile Health Apps?
One of the main benefits of mobile health apps is their ability to allow users obtain their healthcare records or communicate with medical and/or insurance providers from the convenience of their smartphones. App users are not limited to having to wait in lengthy queues to speak with a representative on the phone or request medical records through mail, fax, or in person. When you download a mobile health app to your phone, you can log in to review the information you seek, whether it’s insurance or procedure related, at any time you want and from whatever location you desire.
Mobile health apps also make it easier (and less costly) for medical providers to examine and speak to patients. Telemedicine apps, for example, allow patients to schedule short virtual visits with a doctor or nurse practitioner regarding minor medical concerns. With Telemed apps, the formal check-in process and in-person waiting period is eliminated and replaced with a “virtual waiting room”. This means patients don’t have to take time out of their busy schedules to be physically present at a healthcare facility, where they would be subject to waiting what may be an indefinite number of hours without the ability to do much else. Instead, patients just need to check-in via their mobile app, note the reason for their visit and upload any photos if applicable, and continue about their day until receiving a notification that the doctor is ready to see them.
Similarly, practitioners don’t have to spend additional time waiting for clerks to prepare patient files or check their insurance information before administering care because those details are already uploaded into the app. This enables practitioners to see more patients at a much faster rate and diagnose mild cases, prescribe medicine, or if need be, refer the patient to a hospital should the condition require further care. It’s a win-win for patients and practitioners.
How Have Mobile Health Apps Evolved Due to the Pandemic?
While most of the same basic features of mobile health apps remain the same, the pandemic has led MedTech companies to invest in better communication features between patients and providers.
The need to offer 24/7 contact options via chatbots or live representatives is more important than ever before, as many patients are facing extraordinary financial obstacles and/or devastating COVID-related health complications that require immediate attention. Patients or caretakers need to be able to get answers quickly, especially regarding what coverage they have and what they might need to pay for out-of-pocket so they can make arrangements for their treatments or for those of their loved ones.
What Features Should Mobile Health Apps Include In Order to Provide Optimal Patient Experience?
User Experience (UX) is at the heart of any successful mobile app, but it is especially critical when it comes to apps that offer any kind of healthcare-related features and services. The best mobile health apps are accessible at all times, user-friendly, and extremely secure. If you are a MedTech company and thinking about creating a healthcare app for mobile use, here are a few tips on how to provide a seamless patient experience.
Convenient Access to Healthcare Information and Representatives
Mobile health app users want to have assurance that they can access either their medical records or health insurance coverage documents at any time and from anywhere. They also want to know they can easily reach a representative whenever they have important questions about what’s included in their plans, the services they are entitled to, and what expenses they can anticipate because, let’s face it, no one wants to waste time trying to obtain information from providers during limited operating hours when they can simply open an app on their smartphones while on the go.
Because both healthcare providers and insurance companies are finding themselves at max capacity due to the pandemic, mobile health apps can bridge that gap by providing a solution through which patients can obtain the answers they seek in real-time. Live representatives should be available whenever possible, but an intuitive AI program that can recognize user trends, adapt to different approaches a user may take when asking questions, and accurately cater to their needs can work just as well.
The features included in a healthcare app for mobile devices should be simple to navigate for users of any demographic. The app should provide fast access to whatever the user is looking for, be it their coverage for urgent care visits, vaccination records for their children, or prescription dosage. After all, what good is a healthcare application that can be accessed 24/7 if users have no idea how to find the information they need or have trouble locating documents?
The app should have a simple, well-defined menu that takes into account what users are likely to search for, such as “Insurance Information”, “Medical History”, “Pending Payments”, “Upcoming Appointments”, “Medications”, and so forth. The app should also allow users the ability to download, save, or email documents related to their medical records or insurance coverage.
HIPAA Compliant Security Protocols
When it comes to mobile healthcare apps, security is critical. Anyone designing an app that contains any kind of personal information regarding a patient’s health records, medications, insurance information, and other private details must have the highest security protocols in place and they must be HIPAA compliant.
HIPAA protocols govern the use and exchange of healthcare information and call for intricate encryption systems, two-way authentication protocols, such as a password and biometric authentication combo, and continual monitoring and testing of servers to prevent, detect, and combat against potential hacks.