By Aine Cryts
Mobile apps make a positive difference for patients. But developing the right strategy requires research, planning, and the right partnerships. Co-development partnerships with mobile app vendors are the way to go, says Ed Marx, senior vice president and CIO at Arlington-based Texas Health. Most important, says Marx, is making sure those vendors share your core values and culture. AXIS recently discussed this topic with Marx.
AXIS: Have you developed mobile apps for Texas Health’s patients?
Marx: Yes, we work with co-development partners to develop mobile apps. We have the best of both worlds because we have access to established R&D capabilities and upgrades, but we don’t need to do the development work. Instead, we focus on our primary goal, which is delivering patient care.
AXIS: How would you recommend that a hospital CIO approach co-development projects with a mobile app vendor?
Marx: You need to have a partner that shares your core values and culture. No relationship is perfect and challenges will arise. But if you have a core set of values, you can work through those challenges.
In addition, you want to be deeply engaged with that company. Pick a vendor that is collaborative, and make sure the product they have is what you’re looking for.
Make sure the app is workflow driven—it’s not about the bells and whistles. We’re working with two vendors on mobile apps in a collaborative way. They come on site and know our physicians. They have a sense of what we’re looking for.
AXIS: Why are you investing time and resources on mobile apps for your patients?
Marx: Mobile apps make a difference for patients. For example, mobile apps provide coaching help with weight loss. Mobile apps are also convenient for patients.
It’s also about where our patients are spending their time. Consumers are using mobile apps to do just about everything, from checking on the security of their homes to ordering pizza. Providing mobile apps to our patients enables them to interact with our healthcare system more easily.
AXIS: How involved is your clinical leadership in the development of mobile apps for patients?
Marx: Engaging with our clinical leaders has helped to drive our mobile app adoption. In fact, two of my team members are physicians. We work with clinicians throughout Texas Health to pilot consumer-facing apps, and we involve them in the design phase. That’s really helpful because when the apps become available, our clinicians have a sense of ownership. They’ll talk to their peers, and that helps encourage a healthy adoption rate. The key point is, this really has to be a clinician-driven initiative.
AXIS: Any parting advice for CIOs who are on the fence about developing mobile apps?
Marx: First, spend time looking to areas outside healthcare for inspiration. See how those organizations are implementing mobile apps into their consumer-engagement strategies.
Second, make sure your mobile app strategy is aligned with your organizational strategy. Don’t do anything with mobile apps just because it’s cool. Third, do your research. Find out how many patients are mobile-enabled; it’s pretty convincing.
About Ed Marx:
Ed Marx leads Texas Health’s information technology team in developing and implementing strategies to enhance the patient and provider experience. Texas Health is one the largest faith-based, nonprofit healthcare delivery systems in the United States and the largest in North Texas.
Marx has served in the U.S. Army Reserve, first as a combat medic, then as a combat engineer officer. He received the 2013 John E. Gall Jr. CIO of the Year Award, sponsored by HIMSS and CHIME. Marx has a master’s degree in business and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Colorado State University.