UNC Health announced Tuesday it is rolling out new features in its app to enhance its digital front door. The Chapel Hill, North Carolina-based health system partnered with Gozio Health to embed new wayfinding technology into its app, as well as with WELL Health for the use of its patient communication platform.
Both vendors have existing relationships with UNC, Dan Dodson, the health system’s director of innovation, said in an interview. UNC began working with Gozio when it launched its mobile app in 2019. The app was released to make wayfinding easier when the health system was in the middle of doing construction on its flagship medical campus. UNC has also been a longtime user of WELL’s texting platform to facilitate patient communication.
Satisfied with both vendors, UNC identified new ways to incorporate their technologies into their consumer app. The first is through smarter links. When patients receive appointment reminder texts from UNC, WELL now sends a link to download the health system’s app. Adding these links resulted in a 443% increase in daily downloads, according to Dodson. He said UNC is the first health system to deploy this smartlink option from WELL.
UNC also incorporated a feature that lets patients save their appointments to their phone calendar via an embedded link. When clicked, the link opens UNC’s app and provides Gozio-powered wayfinding from a patient’s home to parking to the office they will be seen in.
The health system also tapped Gozio to display a map that shows app users emergency department and urgent care locations near them, along with urgent care wait times.
“It’s for when you’re at your kid’s soccer game in an area you’re not familiar with and they twist their ankle and you want to find the closest urgent care,” Dodson said. “You may see there’s an urgent care a mile from you, but it’s got a 30 minute wait. And it shows you the urgent care two miles away from you that has a five minute wait.”
These new additions are a part of UNC’s commitment to continually improving its technology and patient experience, according to Dodson. He pointed out that his team is enhancing a tool that patients already enjoy utilizing — the app has realized more than 1.6 million sessions and boasts a 71% reuse rate.
To Dodson, enhancing the digital front door is a key way for health systems to differentiate themselves. Half of patients think a bad digital experience with a healthcare provider ruins their entire experience with that provider, according to an Accenture report.
Making sure poor digital experiences don’t ruin patients’ perceptions of UNC is one of the health system’s main goals when it comes to rolling out these new features. UNC wants its digital front door to be as seamless as possible so patients don’t feel like they need to access multiple portals to complete various simple tasks, such as confirming an appointment time or paying their copay, Dodson added.
Not only does having an easy-to-use web presence appeal to consumer preferences, it is also a feat that many providers fail to accomplish. Dodson lamented that healthcare’ consumer digital experiences are still way behind other industries.
“A lot of times, I’m not looking at what the health system down the street is doing. Rather, I’m looking at the trends happening in the consumer world,” he said.
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