By - January 5th, 2018

A new app aims to make healthcare and hospital visits less painful, applying lessons learned by removing friction for patients and their visitors as well as employees in the same fashion that’s been done for fans at professional sporting events.

Fans of the San Francisco 49ers, Orlando Magic, and San Jose Sharks all have one thing in common—they can use a single app on their smartphones to find their way to the game, where to park, and the best way to get to their seats.
Once settled in, they can order in-seat food and drink delivery, find the nearest bathroom with the shortest line and even notify security if there are any problems, again with the touch of a button in that same app.
So why is it sports fans have it so easy but something as vital as healthcare remains so byzantine?
VenueNext has created venue apps for the aforementioned teams as well as other venues and for Super Bowl 50. The company is taking its expertise to mobile health in an effort to ease some of this pain, but also to hit paydirt in the nascent mobile mHealth market.
The startup scored its first healthcare client with the ten locations of the Kansas City-based Saint Luke’s Health System. VenueNext’s founder/CEO John Paul talks with Open Mobile Media’s Robert Gray about using its pro sports playbook to make healthcare more accessible in the digital age.
OMM: How does this service work and what features does it offer?
Paul: We first went into healthcare thinking we’ll bring them wayfinding, parking, food and beverage and focus on the guest instead of the patient because hospitals do a lot for patients, but not enough for guests. But when we showed them what we do in sports, a light bulb went off; (Saint Luke’s) said it wanted one app for our facilities that integrates all operations: whether it’s a guest, employee or patient, just use this one app. Over time they had developed two or three or four apps they expected patients to use, a medical records app, a different one for appointments, another one for telehealth.
So we created one mobile app experience for patients, visitors and employees to use for all of Saint Luke’s twelve locations.
OMM: So how does it work with the hospital’s other partners?
Paul: We have integrated with a few key partners including a company called Epic Systems, which enables patients to manage their health information through the Epic MyChart* patient portal. We’re working with them and have integrated their SDK with ours. We also integrated with ZocDoc, which allows real-time online appointment booking and MDLIVE for telemedicine services. All of these services are integrated into one single app called MySaintLukes.
OMM: How much bigger could the healthcare market be compared to sports and entertainment venues?
Paul:We think the healthcare market is twice as big as sports. The sports and entertainment business is about a $170 million market, but the US healthcare market alone could be $360 million.
OMM: How did you start with St. Luke’s as your first mHealth client?
Paul: The really big hospitals have large IT staffs that think they can do it themselves, we’ll eventually get there, but we want to start on the regional level; they don’t have the expertise and staff but have a big enough scale that we can bring real value.
OMM: How does the beacon system work?
Paul: We are using Aruba beacons. We’re incorporating them for wayfinding and food delivery. We’ve evolved it, like an Uber for food. When you’re in the facility, you order food and we’ll find you. You don’t have to tell us where you are--you can move around and we’ll still find you. The delivery person has a smart phone and you’re a red dot, if you move, they still find you.
OMM: What’s the cost for patients?
Paul: It’s free for all constituents and what’s happening in healthcare, consumerism is coming into play. They’re used to these smart services and hospitals need to compete with each other and dealing with guests and patients. There’s an HCAHPS (Medicare) score, a hospital gets it from patient surveys. Based on that score, Medicare reimbursements can go down if they don’t get good ones.
There’s a concierge desk, the app connects you with appropriate one and enable help to improve your experience while you’re there, or we’ll pop up short survey. If you respond poorly, they’re starting to employ experience officers for the hospital to improve their ratings. 
OMM: What’s one thing people may not realize you can do—especially in healthcare?
Paul:The initial reaction is I had no idea we could do this. It’s the evolution of the smartphone, how important it is in people’s lives, this is a confusing place how can we help them with a smartphone. They hadn’t thought of it yet.
People were amazed at Levi’s stadium when we integrated all of the systems. In two years (this technology) will be commonplace at any venue.
OMM: What’s the biggest benefit for healthcare providers using VenueNext?
Paul: Just like in sports, it’s knowing who is in their facility. They know information about the patients but have no idea about guests. Also, the data we generate from patients is a huge benefit, helping them with their HCAHPS  score and improving those scores thru improved customer satisfaction, finding their way around the place, taking advantage of all the services they’re providing for you. (The survey only goes to patients, not guests).
OMM: What about privacy concerns for patients, visitors, and others?
Paul: Yes, they’re sensitive to privacy and as it relates to patient records. The way we’re working with EPIC, we don’t see any of that stuff in our backend.
The way we’re approaching it, we don’t cross the HIPAA compliance boundary.
The data is owned by the client, we don’t own the data generated at a venue we operate. That info is held by Saint Luke’s and they’re comfortable the way we do that.
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