Getting the mobile user experience right is essential to maintaining patient engagement

About six or seven years ago, all technology companies went through a major realization: We better make a killer mobile version of the software we originally designed for desktop computer screens!

So, with a boom in mobile internet use on the horizon, tech companies went back to the drawing board to roll out mobile versions of their products. In many cases, that transformation is still underway as companies continue to optimize their solutions for mobile use. And, for companies that launched within the last half-decade, a mobile strategy has been at the forefront of their efforts from the beginning.

Health care industry efforts to digitize health records and design patient portals that bolster patient engagement and treatment follow-through largely predate the mobile era. However, the industry has jumped on board with the mobile wave, creating mobile apps that help patients track symptoms, manage fitness and nutrition, and monitor vital signs and disease-specific indicators.

Because our smartphones are always with us, and are increasingly the method of choice for accessing the internet, mobile apps are the perfect tool to improve patient access to critical health information and services.

Patients want convenience

Consumers value the convenience of mobile devices. Recent research into the adoption of mobile medical appointment-scheduling quantifies how this relates to health systems.

When asked about booking a medical appointment from a website or mobile app versus calling the office, 42 percent of survey respondents said they would rather book digitally. Yet, only 17 percent of patients have access to online booking.

However, Accenture reports that by 2019, a majority of health care systems will offer mobile self-scheduling, and a majority of patients will use the service.

Offering online convenience reduces the burden on health care support staff to manually schedule appointments through phone calls, and helps to fill available appointment slots. It also better engages the Millennial generation, which has less patience for phone message tag and being placed on hold.

What are the key elements to get right?

Great mobile user experience relies on well-designed touch screen buttons, user-friendly forms, and functional document viewers. Here are the key elements of patient portals that are important to get right in mobile design to retain functionality and lead to greater adoption and increased patient satisfaction.

  • Easy account creation and log-ins – Touchscreen typing remains an error-prone way to accomplish web-based tasks. Recognize this by creating minimalistic account setup and login screens. Ask only for the basics on the mobile version of the portal; make more detailed questions optional.
  • Minimizing page loads – Design mobile treatment guidance that gets patients from point A, symptoms, to point B, treatment options, as quick as possible. Mobile internet connections speeds vary. Minimizing new page loads reduces the chances that a slow connection will interrupt the process.
  • Document viewers – Design smartphone=compatible document viewers so patients can legibly view their health records, test results, and other important documents.
  • Secure scheduling and payment options – Making online purchases is here to stay, but it can still be frustrating at times. Reducing the number of steps to complete a transaction and ensuring a secure transaction are key to creating a seamless payment process that patients will use. Patients are also looking for minimal steps and reliable security when scheduling appointments on mobile devices.

A functional mobile patient portal will maximize patient engagement and patient satisfaction for provider networks. It also works to manage patient relations on an ongoing basis and reduce referral leakage.

Whether your portal was designed more recently, with mobile functionality in mind, or further back, when desktop computers were the primary means of online access, optimizing your solutions for mobile use is essential to your patients’ experience.

Let us know what you think.


Max Kahn