• Article
  • July 18, 2016

5 Tips for Creating a Children’s Hospital Mobile App

There can be a learning curve when it comes to successfully incorporating new technology into a hospital environment. Here are tips from the pros.

By Kaitie Marolf

Children’s hospitals are creating apps for a variety of uses. As the industry explores this format for engaging patients, family and staff members, some hospitals are finding success. Here, five experts share their insights into the do’s and don’ts of incorporating an app into a children’s hospital’s culture.

Understand your audience

Kristy Belden, director of digital marketing at Kosair Children’s Hospital says hospitals must know who they want to speak to via an app. Kosair Children’s looked at its website traffic and discovered the “Find a Doctor” search function was getting high numbers, so the organization made it a focal point in the app. “From a mobile standpoint, the audience is looking for immediacy,” she says.

Consider location

Charlotte Moser, assistant director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) says the organization’s vaccine education app has reached about 40,000 downloads in 115 countries. “Internationally, particularly where people only have access to the internet through phones, this helps them get important information,” she says.

Don’t let the mobile app become a website

Gina Dibrasz, clinical operations consultant at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) says the organization’s app has 5,400 downloads since going live seven months ago.  Almost 4,600 of those who downloaded the app are active users, meaning they used the app within 24 hours.  The app caters to an audience with instant, specific needs while the website allows visitors to engage with content on a deeper level. “We didn’t want to compete with an already robust choa.org,” Dibrasz says. “We wanted it to be quick, easy, convenient and efficient.”

The hospital included content in the app such as facility and road navigation, an option to directly call the hospital, a “Find a Specialist” feature, a “Dedicated to All Better Blog,” a prescription search that allows parents to find their child’s medications at the lowest price, and a direct link to the organization’s website on the app.

Make sure it has value

Stephanie Cannon, senior director, digital marketing at Nationwide Children’s Hospital says its Physician Connect app was tested over several months by a wide variety of professionals. “We went to many physician groups and said: ‘At the end of the day, would you use this?’” Cannon says. “We’re not physicians, so taking the time to get their perspective was important.”

Involve a broad range of stakeholders

Aaron Fry, lead for the Enterprise Applications team at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) says they involved investors interested in sponsoring apps, IT team members, designer, product owners and potential consumers throughout the app development process. “If you can get a whole team together as early as possible and gather what the requirements are, there won’t be any surprises before you go live,” he says.