A Technology “Physical” for the Healthcare Industry

Kevin McNally (2012) - photo for placement (2014)By Kevin McNally

The rapid advancement of technology has benefitted many industries, and perhaps none more than the medical field.  From research to preventative medicine to discovering new therapies and remedies, technology is the foundation of a wide range of remarkable medical advances.

But despite the easy access and prevalence of these amazing new tools, many within the healthcare industry remain in the stone-age when it comes to developments in digital communication.

The Internet in particular has transformed the way in which most people gather information, making it vital for businesses to increase their search-engine visibility and efficiency of online services. It is essential to not only maintain a comprehensive website, but to keep up with technological enhancements that will provide the public easy access to desired information.

The use of cell phones with Internet connection has prompted the exploration of technological avenues, such as mobile websites. Appetites for the most up-to-the-minute and speediest mobile device are never satisfied, with manufacturers constantly working to release more efficient upgrades.  Expectations are steadily on the rise for mobile websites that offer immediate loading times…for when a website doesn’t deliver chances are visitors will quickly disappear.

In essence, a mobile site is a focused streamlined website, configured to easily fit a smart phone screen.  This technology allows people easy access to information from their cell phones without the inconvenience of small, hard-to-read type or incorrectly rendered layouts.

Anyone who has ever attempted to navigate through a traditional website from a smart phone can appreciate the need for simplifying the process.  This sometimes occurs when a website’s code is out of date; as such the site doesn’t properly render on a mobile device. This challenge can lead to frustration – and sometimes worse – for those in need of immediate contact information for a physician or hospital.

Some medical facilities and physicians are offering mobile versions of their websites to both attract new patients and build continued loyalty with existing patients.  But others have not yet gone boldly into the 21st century.  And it’s a shame, for according to a study conducted by the Pew Trust in January nearly 58% of adults in this country are accessing the Internet via a smartphone or mobile device…and 72% of them are searching for health-related information.

Mobile-ready access to websites eliminates the often tedious task of locating desired information by reducing complexity.  It’s not necessary to scroll through large text screens since information on a skillfully designed mobile website is organized by importance and formatted for relevance. 

With just a few taps, a mobile website can automatically enter stored data, such as phone numbers, email addresses, and directions, saving time and reducing frustration for smart phone users. 

Within the health care industry, optimized smart phone accessibility can open new marketing doors.  For example, a “physician search” button on a hospital or medical center mobile homepage could be designed to provide an organized list of nearby physicians based on the user’s GPS location.  Hospital websites today can also offer online physician referral service for those in future need of a physician; applicants can be matched with appropriate physicians at the facility for treatment and care.

Other applications offered by mobile sites include health information sections where users can search medical conditions and receive information about symptoms and treatments.

A wide variety of online tools are presently available for patients and medical facility personnel. And with website translation ability, these helpful and often critical online services can reach a significantly larger customer base.  In fact, offering content in several languages besides English is fast becoming a crucial component to hospital websites in most regions of this country.

Secure web-based programs now exist that allow patients the ability to contact their doctor’s office online regarding non-urgent matters.  These online medical services benefit patients in many ways, from viewing appointment details to reviewing prescription/refill information to receiving advice about routine medical issues.  But perhaps of most value is a patient’s ability to receive test results in advance of a doctor’s appointment, allowing time to digest the information and better serve as their own advocates.

Technology is a proven component to building relationships between those in the healthcare industry and their patients – it is a key that can unlock innovative methods of communication.

Kevin McNally is CEO and founder of Interactive Palette, www.interactivepalette.com, a web design and hosting firm. He can be reached at kmcnally@interactivepalette.com.

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