How many times do you unlock your phone each day? Last week at the AHIP Institute 2014 Conference, I heard 150 times per day. Three months earlier, I heard 100 times. Feels like the trend line is steep. And we aren’t even making many phone calls. We’re emailing, texting, tweeting, posting and tracking. The little devices that now take the place of a phone, camera, computer, calculator, record/CD player, notebook and pen are pervasive and we’re tethered. At least I am.
Mobile is one of a handful of trends that analysts say are likely to drive change in healthcare. Why is this technology being adopted so rapidly? It is easy and extremely customer-focused. Or, in the current parlance, mobile helps drive a “frictionless” experience. Doctors are already carrying phones — they don’t want a pager too. We’re using our device for banking, shopping, checking on our children and friends – just about everything. They make it easy to manage our lives so, consumers and professionals alike are expecting to interact with them with respect to healthcare experiences. If the barista is using an iPad as the checkout register and your taxi driver uses it as a payment device, doctors, nurses and consumers want the convenience too when dealing with healthcare.
What might a “frictionless experience” be in healthcare? For starters, as one speaker said: “if you want patients to do something, don’t make them do anything.” Mobile enables monitoring and transmitting information effortlessly to both the person and the provider. And mobile supports the quantified-self movement. As Indu Subaiya reports, self-tracking has gone mainstream: 7 out of 10 Americans track some metric associated with their health. With over 90,000 health apps, a new layer of companies has emerged to curate these apps on behalf of their customers (check out SocialWellth and the work it is doing with payers like Cigna).
A frictionless or seamless experience also means convenience – making it easier for customers to do business with you. We can use our mobile devices to schedule appointments with providers just as we book at a restaurant. And then we can use the device for our visit if we want using an app from American Well or WellDoc. Convenient.
Finally, mobile comes in handy as we leverage our retail skills in learning how to manage first dollar coverage with our high deductible health plans. Pricing information we searched for on our desktop is readily available on our mobile device (where and when you need it), providing a seamless experience. We can comparison shop for services and seek provider ratings. And however we pay for services we’re able to check our balances and our points. Next up: Data amassed about our purchasing behavior pushes coupons and incentives to us when we need them (save $10 if you get your throat culture at your local drugstore). As often as we unlock our devices today, that rate will only increase.