Hospital mobile websites necessity or nonessential?

by Barbara Maloney on June 17, 2011

in Mobile,Search,Social Media

Doctor

With so many businesses and organizations going mobile, should hospitals?

Around 42% of Americans own a smart phone. A study performed by Pew Trust, said that 59 percent of U.S. adults access the Internet wirelessly using a laptop or a mobile device. This study also stated that 61 percent of those accessing the Internet wirelessly are searching for health-related information.

Hospitals in Middle Tennessee are investing in a mobile version of their website. They want to attract new patients, and build a stronger connection with current patients. The region has a highly competitive market, and the hospitals hope to gain an edge by having an easily accessible mobile website.

Likewise,  Cleveland Clinic has launched a mobile website allowing smart phone users to access information about the hospital as well as search for doctors. This site allows users to search for doctors based on name, location, or department. They can also see general information such as where to park, hospital hours, etc.

More and more Americans turn to the internet as a way to gather medical information, and more consumers are utilizing hand-held devices to access the internet.

I know from personal experience, I only turn on a computer to look something up if it is too hard to do on my iPhone. Creating mobile websites can be a bonus for many businesses. However, they do have some downsides if not executed correctly.

Meredith College has a mobile website, which is great, but it is vastly different from their regular website and hard to use at times. My point is, if you are going to do a mobile website, make it correlate with your regular website. This is especially important if consumers are used to using your website; they may get frustrated and confused when learning how to navigate a mobile website.

I am not sold quite yet on the fact that hospitals need a mobile website, but having one certainly can’t hurt them. If  you needed the information right away, for example, if some one is allergic to bee stings and you didn’t know what to do, you could look it up on a mobile website. However, if it wasn’t an emergency I think that I would rather sit at a computer and research than do it on my phone.

What are your thoughts on mobile sites for hospitals?

Photo by Anoto AB

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Erika June 17, 2011 at 9:20 am

My mom was in the hospital last month. I agree that it would be great to have a hospital mobile website with parking information, hours, and doctors names/contact info/their specialty. But people also get lost in hospitals – maybe they could use the GPS on mobile to help people find where they need to go!

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Barbara Maloney Barbara Maloney June 17, 2011 at 9:49 am

Thank you for your comment Erika! More and more people reach for their phones for information and it would be great, like you said, to simplify hospital visits :)

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Seth Hargrave Seth Hargrave June 17, 2011 at 11:15 am

I would argue emphatically that yes, they not only need mobile sites, they also need mobile accessibility for patient records. While this is a hot-button debate among many (tremendous privacy implications here), to your point about needing information, the medical industry as a whole is moving rapidly to create data infrastructure whereby both patients and staff can access critical information from anywhere. EMTs, emergency rooms, etc. Think about how many times you travel, and how useful it would be to have your medical history handy should you wind up in a California rescue squad while your primary care physician is in New York. So while I agree that user experience is important, IMO the bigger picture is more about accessibility of critical information. Hospitals, urgent cares, general practitioners… all should have mobile presence.

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Michael Hubbard Michael Hubbard June 19, 2011 at 8:46 am

I agree – this is a critical junction for hospitals. We know the government is already subsidizing the medical records going digital, but specifically, for the hospitals, they need to become more mobile ready. I’ve seen hospitals and urgent care facilities that are doing a great job posting their real-time wait times on websites, which is a pretty novel idea, but I think it needs to go further than the convenience factor. For starters, maybe lift your ban on cell phones in the hospital :) . If you really have multi-million dollar equipment that can be messed up by a $49 cell phone, then it’s time to take a look at your vendors. If you’re doing it just for the annoyance factor, that’s another story…

But directions, medical records, and everything else should be available in a mobile environment. I forget what the contact exchange app is, but you “bump” smart phones and it exchanges data… That’s what I’d envision for a hospital… Bump my phone and you have all of my medical records, insurance info, allergy details, etc…

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Phil Buckley June 23, 2011 at 9:06 am

One of the smartest things I’ve seen a hospital do is the ER app that Newton-Wellesley hospital created. The app tells you how long the wait is in their ER. If it’s too long you can go someplace else which is good for you, and actually good for the hospital since they won’t have grumpy people in their ER.

Until HIPAA laws come into the 21st century, a lot of the coolest stuff will have to be put on hold.

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Barbara Maloney Barbara June 28, 2011 at 2:38 pm

That’s really great. Too many people spend hour upon hour waiting to see a doctor in the ER and it would be beneficial to at least know how long you will wait before going.

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Morgan Siem June 28, 2011 at 2:35 pm

Fantastic post, Barbara. What a critical question to bring up. Privacy concerns aside, I think that the more urgent the need is for certain data, the more important it is to have it easily accessible. This goes for hospital information as well as patient information. Not to be dreary, but the reality is that if you are in a medical emergency, how quickly you’re able to access important information may be the difference between life and death. For instance, here is a true story that relates: last week I was in London walking through a park during the day. Suddenly, I came upon a man who had had a seizure and was unconscious on the ground bleeding from his skull. Since I was in a foreign city I didn’t know where the closest hospital was or even how to contact an ambulance. I can imagine the utility of a mobile site or app that would do the following: (1) contact the nearest hospital & ambulance and provide GPS of our exact location, and (2) notify the hospital of the patient’s estimated arrival time so that they can prepare and get the triage process underway.

The possibilities are endless, and the implications are important enough to get these types of efforts off the back burner.

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Barbara Maloney Barbara Maloney June 28, 2011 at 2:41 pm

That’s terrible! But so true. Too many travelers have no idea where to even look in regards of a nearest hospital.

Like you mentioned the possibilities are endless, and it will be interesting to see where it goes from here.

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Synthia M. Shaffer January 13, 2014 at 2:56 pm

hello, that was right mam barbara maloney i experienced it most of my travel, but you can check an online hospitals from this website: http://www.placidway.com/search/india,,/search.html

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