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Designing web and mobile solutions that are useful for patients

on July 19, 2012

Almost 4 million people use Kaiser Permanente’s website to interact with their electronic health records, by emailing physicians, making appointments, viewing test results and refilling prescriptions, according to Brian Gardner, who heads the organization’s Mobility Center for Excellence.

The center is a special branch within Kaiser’s IT department that focuses on mobile enablement for consumers, members and clinicians, as more than half of all adult cellphone owners use their phones to go online.

“We want to make sure that whatever they’re using when they engage with us is the perfect experience for them,” Gardner says in this interview with EHRIntelligence.

Two of the most important things the center does when creating mobile health solutions are focusing on the user experience and testing the solutions exhaustively.

When it comes to user experience, Gardner says iOS and Android are very different platforms, so the goal is to “go native,” developing and building solutions in both of those native platforms separately, so they can optimize the experience for both sets of users. Next, Kaiser does what Gardner calls “tons of usability tests,” for both web and mobile solutions. When developing mobile solutions based on the website, Gardner says it’s important to start with a set of core capabilities – functions that users perform the most – and build out from there.

But what about other apps that patients use to track their data that Kaiser doesn’t provide? Gardner said the next challenge is figuring out how to implement data from those mobile apps into the electronic health record.

“Patients are tracking exercise or condition through a third-party application, so how do we take advantage of that?” he questioned.

In terms of creating mobile solutions that are secure, Gardner says that his team re-uses all of the security models that they have on the website, and lets the device do the rest. “From a device perspective, we let Apple kind of take care of that,” he said. “Their entire platform is becoming more secure.”

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