During the last week of January, Kaiser Permanente went mobile in a big way: It created a mobile-optimized version of its website for its patients and it also offered up an Android app that included the same feature set as the website. Since then the Android app has been downloaded more than 99,000 times, Kaiser Permamente's Principal Program Manager for its Mobility Center of Excellence Brian Gardner said on a conference call this week.
Kaiser Permanente's website has attracted 4.8 million visits from patients using mobile devices since the new mobile site launched. About 15 percent of visitors to KP's website are now visiting from mobiles, Gardner said.
This week KP announced that the iPhone version of the app is now available for download. Like the Android app, the iOS one is free and has the same features -- including the same security protocols -- as the KP website.
As we reported in January, the mobile offerings grant Kaiser Permanente patients access to their lab test results and personal health records. They can also email their doctors, schedule appointments, refill prescriptions and locate Kaiser Permanente medical facilities right from the iPhone app, Android app or mobile site. Family members who are caring for a KP patient can also access the same services via their mobile devices, and those caring for elder patients can now refill prescriptions and communicate with the doctor’s office on behalf of the patient, too. The new apps also include the same features as Kaiser Permanente's first iPhone app, KP Locator, which helps users to more quickly located KP facilities in their area.
Gardner said that 29 million lab tests were viewed online last year and making that information available through the apps and mobile site will likely cause that number to grow this year. Last year about 2.5 million appointments were scheduled online through KP's website, Gardner said, clearly making it a "really important tool for members". Last year about 12 million emails were sent to providers, Gardner said, and that number too is likely to go up now that the feature is better enabled for mobile devices. The messaging center on the app has a history of all messages sent to and from physicians.
Gardner emphasized that while the capabilities are the same in the mobile apps and site, the convenience of the platform and the user experience it enables will lead to quicker access to information and less navigating than is required by a desktop web browser.
One feature that is missing from the mobile versions: Registration. KP members still need to register via a desktop. The reason?
"On mobile phones people have a tendency to get interrupted," Gardner said. "With text messages... [for example] And it is important to get that [registration] right, so we have not extended that to mobile at this time."