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Can an app replace your printed patient education material?

Perhaps not entirely—and not for everyone— but it can certainly help.

As your patients turn increasingly to their mobile devices for health and medical information, health related mobile apps are taking off.

Patients are using mobile apps to monitor their activity levels, track weight loss, improve medication adherence, and even track their blood pressure or blood sugar levels. And while only 16 percent of healthcare professionals currently use mobile apps with their patients, 46 percent plan to do so in the next five years.1

Using Apps for Patient Ed

One of the simplest and most effective uses of a mobile app for healthcare is patient education. Simple to set up and easy to maintain, patient education apps provide a valuable service, while encouraging patient engagement and brand loyalty.

Here are just a few of the benefits for you and your patients:

  • Simplicity. Two-way apps —where patients and physicians communicate with each other—require physician monitoring and therefore physician buy-in. Not so with apps that offer simple information and patient education. Not as fancy but still effective, and without the liability.

  • Usability. Mobile apps help patients remember important information about their healthcare. Patient pamphlets and other educational materials are often lost or forgotten, but putting them on the app keeps all that information close at hand. This helps with compliance and ultimately outcomes.

  • Loyalty. Patients who become engaged in your branded app are more likely to consider your hospital their go-to provider.

  • Fun. Patient education apps can be interactive, fun…even funny. UPMC PinnacleHealth’s Your Baby’s Birth and Beyond includes:

  • Important info about pregnancy, birth and newborns

  • UPMC Pinnacle and community health resources

  • Weekly milestones via push notifications

  • Trackers for appointments, weight management, contractions and immunizations

  • Animations and videos

  • Personal journaling

Tips for Making Patient Education Apps That Work

  1. Make it easy to navigate. Organize the content for usability. Make it simple and intuitive.

  2. Create an attractive interface. Apps should look clean and attractive. Loading lots of content onto a page (i.e. just downloading your existing PDFs) will result in a crowded and hard to read screen.

  3. Rewrite the content for the platform. Once again, just adding a bunch of PDFs won’t achieve your goal. Rewrite the content to be short and direct.

  4. Organize into phases. Unlike hard copy patient brochures, information should be organized by phases so it can be delivered when relevant.

  5. Use dynamic timelines. Use timelines to educate patients about the next steps in their treatment.

  6. Create an onboarding guide. This is the very first thing users see when downloading your app and gives a simple walk-through that helps patients to better understand what the app does and how to use it.

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