Should Custom Mobile Apps Be Part of Your Practice? by Carl Black, MD, and Tyler Crawford, MD

by Carl Black, MD, and Tyler Crawford, MD

With the advent of personal handheld mobile computing, marketing and practice branding strategies will fundamentally change. Mobile computing is growing at an exponential rate and it is predicted that before 2015, mobile platforms will exceed other forms of personal computing.

Since the advent of the iPhone, iPad and Android mobile computing and communications platforms, the opportunity for integrating practice branding with enhanced patient care practice tools into personal mobile applications is quickly becoming reality. Apps have literally altered the world of mobile computing and stand to significantly impact the personal delivery of medical care and practice brand awareness now and in coming years.

App Store and Google Play

The Apple and Android app stores provide access to literally hundreds of thousands of mobile apps. Applications with medical focus are expanding along with games, news, shopping, education, personal and business productivity, and entertainment. The best productivity apps are designed to save time, enhance productivity, facilitate access to concise information and ultimately expand business.

Is your practice ready for its own customized app? The answer depends on many factors such as budget, goals and nature of your practice. For practices specializing in subacute, ongoing care such as venous disease, multi-featured apps probably make strategic sense, as long as they incorporate multiple services at reasonable cost.

While the concept of practice-specific custom applications is intriguing, it has traditionally been beyond the budget and know-how of most private practitioners. Handheld apps have been limited mostly to enterprise-grade electronic medical records (EMRs), and even then, such apps typically fall short of addressing the broader opportunity of combining patient care into a well-designed, economical practice branding and marketing solution.

The sheer expense and complexity of individual practice app development have made conventional application development impractical for all but the most entrepreneurial practices.

Subscription-based, turn-key custom practice app development stands to make multifaceted practice app development a profitable reality, even for smaller practices with limited resources. Undoubtedly, we will witness a steady push toward economical integration of a myriad of useful options such as EMR, patient billing, disease and procedure-specific education, and secure patient-office communication.

ROI for Medical Application

The return on your individual practice app investment hinges on the day-to-day utility of your application. From the practice perspective, application development must be relatively easy, economical and serve a combined purpose of enhanced patient care, greater practice efficiency, along with tasteful branding. This may actually be enhanced by sharing your platform with other clinics who desire to implement a similar approach. Ideally through a single application, the patient can access a number of clinics relevant to his care.

Medical applications of the future will likely meld the needs of marketing and practice branding with practical elements of everyday patient care. The opportunity is immense. Patients with portable, handheld applications for the iPhone, iPad and similar smart-phone devices will appreciate instant mobile access to their individualized treatment plan along with answers to frequently asked questions.

Multipurpose practice-specific medical apps which enhance patient care, practice efficiency, patient education and practice branding stand to significantly impact even smaller, individual practices. Forward-thinking practices that embrace such technology stand to reap significant benefits.