Survey: Patient-facing apps motivate healthcare organizations to go mobile

By Jack McCarthy
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Healthcare organizations are moving fast to embrace mobile apps, with 82 percent implementing a mobile strategy, and 78 percent achieving positive ROI from mobile app investments already, according to a new survey published by open source software specialist Red Hat.

In the coming year, Red Hat found, U.S. demand for patient-facing apps (60 percent) is expected to slightly outpace demand for internal efficiencies (59 percent) as a main motivation for developing healthcare apps. 

The optimism engendered by the bullishness of healthcare IT leaders about mobile apps, however, is undercut by budget limitations. Respondents said they plan to increase their budgets by 15.5 percent to support development of 36 percent more apps in the next year.

“This disparity between investment growth and desired app volumes may not be achieved by developing mobile apps as one-off projects,” the Red Hat authors explained. “Rather, a modern platform-based approach that supports agile development and API-based architecture can help increase developer efficiency, reduce development costs, and support the increasing demand for mobile apps.”

Mobile apps are currently provided primarily for doctors (59 percent), patients/members (55 percent), and technicians (44 percent) by U. S. respondents and are currently provided primarily for pharmaceutical research development staff (53 percent).

Driving mobile app development are increased business and internal productivity demands (63 percent); healthcare provider demand for better patient engagement and care (60 percent); and external/member/patient demand for mobile apps (56 percent U.S. respondents and 43 percent European respondents).

The most dominant business concern is app security. Three in 10 respondents reported their primary security concern is data encryption from device back-end systems; 29 percent said their greatest security concern is end-to-end HIPAA compliance.

Respondents showed that cloud deployment is far from universal, with the majority using on-premise deployment for mobile apps, rather than cloud deployment. More than half (53 percent) of all respondents use an on-premise or partial on-premise deployment model.

“The needs of caregivers, patients and business are different and wide ranging. There is no single solution to meet the needs of all the various mobile demands, which is reflected in the mix of different tools and platforms employed by the survey respondents,” according to the Red Hat blog. “Even the best off-the-shelf solutions or RMAD tools can only address some of the challenges.”

For the survey, Red Hat commissioned Vanson Bourne to poll 200 IT decision makers from private, public, life sciences and pharmaceutical healthcare organizations with at least 1,000 employees in the U.S., France, Germany and the United Kingdom. The survey was completed in October 2016, and was carried out online.