Updated: Sep 18, 2019
Having worked in the patient engagement industry for almost 20 years with focus on building apps for patients, I am often asked how we help our clients to a 90% patient engagement rate.
Most people think it is our apps that just do magic since most other app vendors are struggling to get higher than 40-50%. As much as I would love to keep that illusion, my experience shows that it is much more than technology:
90% Patient engagement rate = 50% App + 30% Staff + 10% Support
Over the years, I’ve had numerous frustrated providers who have called me, saying their patients didn’t want to use an app. They claimed the app was too difficult to use or that their patient population was too old or did not have smart phones, etc. None of this is true and a big part of our job is to help them overcome some of the changes that need to be implemented alongside the technical implementation of the app.
Our data and experience show:
- Patients do want to use an app
- Most patients have either a smartphone or a tablet at home
- App usage does not differ significantly between rural and urban areas
So, what do you need to do to get to a 90% patient engagement rate?
1. Educate your staff
A common mistake is that staff is not telling the patients to download and use the app, because they either don’t know about the app or don’t understand the value. Make sure that everyone in the practice knows how to promote the app.
2. Make it easy for the patients to find the app
It doesn’t help a lot that your staff promotes it if the patients can’t find it. Promote the app everywhere: Posters, handouts, links on website – and maybe most importantly: promote it in your voicemail.
3. Keep the sign-up procedure simple, but secure
Building a sign-up procedure that is simple without compromising security or resulting in duplicated patient charts is an art – it is not easy. But this step is crucial for the success of the app.
4. Create app content that is tailored to the patient
There are a LOT of benefits for the practice if the patients are using an app, but much too often the apps that are built for providers are only focusing on the practice and have no benefits for the patients. You can get a patient to use one of those apps once, but they will not come back – create an ongoing engagement in your apps, tailored to the individual patient.
5. Reward the patients that use the app
You can create awareness of the app in the practice by rewarding the patients that use it, e.g. Fast-lanes for those that checked in at home, special sitting areas, self-checkin kiosks.
6. Offer technical help
Not all patients are technically savvy, especially the elder generation, and some need a little help getting started, but this is not something that the staff should handle. Make sure your app provider offers this to your patients.
7. Be patient!
This does not happen overnight. It takes 6-9 months to get there and most patients need to be invited multiple times, so keep pushing!
These are just some of the best practices I’ve learned over the years and I’ll be happy to share more with you, if you are interested.
If you have other good tips for how to implement patient facing technology in the practice please share here :)