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Saint Luke’s Takes a Cue from the NFL to Make mHealth Apps Fan-Friendly

The Kansas City health system is consolidating its mHealth apps on one platform - and using a digital health company best known for mobile-optimizing the San Francisco 49ers' new home.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

Saint Luke’s Health System is consolidating its mHealth apps onto one platform with help from a tech company that made the San Francisco 49ers’ new football stadium fan-friendly.

The 10-hospital, Kansas City-based health system currently has four consumer-facing apps, and plans to offer more. But Chief Information Officer Debe Gash says each app has its own platform and rules, making the mHealth experience “schizophrenic” for both patients and staff.

So Saint Luke’s is turning to VenueNext, a Santa Clara, Calif.-based company known for its work in the hospitality and sports fields – they mobile-optimized San Francisco’s Levi’s Stadium prior to its 2014 opening, and have worked with the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings, New York Yankees and Churchill Downs, among others.

Sports fans may not have a lot in common with hospital patients, but Gash says her health system has the same business philosophy as a sports team: They want to make the venue as engaging as possible for the visitor on a mobile device. That means putting Saint Luke’s apps on one user interface, and making the process as smooth as possible for future apps.

“We’ve been deploying these capabilities one at a time, with different apps for different things,” she says. “It was getting confusing … and I was getting feedback [from staff] asking how many more of these apps we were going to have?”

Saint Luke’s currently offers the Epic MyChart app, as well as a telehealth app through MDLive, an appointment scheduling app through ZocDoc and mobile access to the health system’s patient portal. The apps, all rolled out within the past few years, are part of the health system’s plan to make the health system more in turn with consumer and patient needs.

“A mobile platform is very important to our patients,” she says, “and it presents St. Luke’s in a better way” to the public at large.

With the consolidated platform expected to be up and running this fall, Gash says she’s ready to try out two services very familiar to sports fans: wayfinding and food and beverage ordering. She wants an app that will give visitors an easy way of finding where they are and where they want or need to go, and an app that will give visitors and staff alike the opportunity to purchase and pay for food and drinks online and have them delivered.

For those applications, VenueNext will be using Aruba’s Meridian Mobile App Platform and BLE Beacons to create proximity notifications and wayfinding services for Saint Luke’s. Through the new platform, visitors will also receive welcome messages and notifications of special services as they make their way through one of the health system’s facilities.

“We want to add efficiency to the operation,” she says. “We want to make it as easy and as comfortable as possible.”

Saint Luke’s is actually VenueNext’s first healthcare customer. The partnership sheds light on a familiar trend in mHealth: healthcare providers aren’t afraid to look outside the box to solve problems or bring new services to the online ecosystem.

“VenueNext’s technology platform has been quickly adopted by the sports and entertainment industries and we believe our value proposition extends to the healthcare industry and beyond,” John Paul, the company’s CEO and founder, said in a press release. “We look forward to working closely with Saint Luke’s to deliver an integrated and easy to use mobile app experience for the more than three hundred thousand individuals who visit their locations each year.” 


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