In early 2011, Group Health set out to find ways to use mobile to help members manage their health and make better decisions about where, how and when to get care. “We view mobile as another channel of delivering patient care which is important to us given our mission of serving the greatest number of people”, explains Colby Voorhees, Senior Product Manager at Group Health.
Group Health launched their award winning mobile application with key capabilities such as care management with “My Care”, care guidance with “Consulting Nurse” and care planning with “Wait Times” for Pharmacy and Laboratory services.
Group Health’s app moves beyond the mobile capabilities enabled by other health plans which let consumers look up health information, check symptoms or find urgent care.
“We’ve received very positive feedback from members on our version 1.0 app but were surprised that members expected our mobile application to have more capabilities out of the gate such as refilling a prescription or accessing information on the entire family”, Colby reports.
“Love the new app but am frustrated that I have to go to the full site to reorder meds. Will this be available on the new app soon?”
“Please provide a Parental Access feature in the next update, soon. I have to take my kids in much more than I go in so most of the time I end up using a web version on my phone (not fun) instead of the app.”
Last summer, Group Health released their 1.5 version with prescription refill and parental access capabilities. Their mobile app now has over 36K downloads (iPhone 25+K) and Android 11+K) by 14% of their web access users and 5% of their total members.
The two most used mobile app features are “My Care” (37%) and “Wait Times” (36%) followed by “Symptom Checker” a distant third (10%).
In “My Care”, consumers can now see their personalized list of care reminders for preventive and chronic conditions (if applicable), communicate with their clinicians (e.g. primary care and specialists), review their ‘after visit summary’, refill a prescription and access care information for children under twelve such as immunization timing. Members can also use the scheduling feature to check available appointments and book them with their PCPs. “It’s like picking a seat on the plane that you want instead of having someone else select it for you”, exclaims Colby.
Within “My Care”, the top three features used are Reading Messages (32%), Viewing Lab Results (25%) and Making Future Appointments (16%).
Group Health’s Mobile Motivation
The product team at Group Health remains focused on taking complex tasks that the consumer is trying to do and making them simple. Group Health collaborates with consumers to get input on mobile concepts and works closely with them through usability research to make sure the capabilities meet expectations and the interface is intuitive.
While Colby discussed their mobile research, I heard members voice their desire for increased convenience and an improved customer experience.
“If they had an app that made it that easy to interact with healthcare, I would choose Group Health.”
"My spouse would absolutely download that app to take care of his health since he can use it while commuting to work on the bus or while he is waiting in line.”
“I absolutely appreciate the forward thinking technological advances that Group Health has. Something seemingly as simple as an iPhone app to access my health records, completely changes and improves my experience in a way that other knuckle dragging change adverse medical providers just can't comprehend. Thank you.”
What is next for Group Health on the mobile front? Colby reminded me that they are only on their 1.5 mobile app version and there are opportunities ahead such pushing communications to consumers instead of relying on them to access their My Care dashboard.
As an integrated care system, Group Health has the advantage of leveraging their common platform for patients and providers to support care collaboration and self- management. Consumers can use mobile to access a single source for their care communication and transactional needs.
“We are thinking about the continuity of the care interaction with the clinician. There is a big divide between phone calls and in person visits. We already have secure messaging and can see where video might be the opportunity to bridge the gap in a low cost and high convenience way for patients and providers” shares Colby.
Within healthcare, the consumer demand for mobile services is quickly outpacing the apps being supplied by organizations. Consumers want all the features available on their specific mobile device, which poses a big challenge to organizations that don’t have the resources to fund all of the mobile platforms. The key will be to identify, prioritize and deliver the most meaningful features which will enhance the member experience, enable care collaboration and empower consumers to simply engage in their health.