November 24, 2014

innovation

iFlorida

From football to fish to hospitals, there are plenty of Florida-specific iPhone applications. Should your company consider making one?

Cynthia Barnett | 2/1/2010


On a recent Sunday in Broward County, emergency-room wait times were 5 minutes at Aventura Hospital, 20 minutes at Plantation General Hospital, 12 minutes at Westside Regional Medical Center in Plantation, 10 minutes at University Hospital in Tamarac and 20 minutes at Northwest Medical Center in Margate.

The live wait times, answers to emergency health questions, GPS-enabled driving directions to the ERs, quality rankings for the facilities and more could be gleaned from home, I-95, the beach or anywhere else an emergency befell. At least if you owned an iPhone and had downloaded an app called iTriage.

HCA hospitals in Florida have contracted with iTriage as part of a marketing strategy to tout short wait times and attract the most desirable patients. Customers have to give their name and insurance provider to get the free iPhone app, which has specifics for every healthcare facility in a user’s location, along with extras such as wait times for hospitals that pay for a premium listing.

“The return on investment is dramatic — it pays for itself with the revenue of one or two patients a year,” says Dr. Peter Hudson, an ER physician who last year founded a company called Healthagen to develop iTriage.

According to data collected by Osterman Research, U.S. companies are increasingly embracing the iPhone. While Research In Motion’s BlackBerry continues to be the preferred smartphone in corporate settings, more firms are beginning to move toward supporting the iPhone — 44% of companies surveyed said they supported the iPhone in 2009, up from 20% in 2008. Support for the BlackBerry dropped to 75% from 82% and for Windows Mobile to 64% from 66%.

HCA hospitals in Florida have contracted with iTriage as part of a marketing strategy to tout short wait times and attract the most desirable patients. Customers have to give their name and insurance provider to get the free iPhone app, which has specifics for every healthcare facility in a user’s location, along with extras such as wait times for hospitals that pay for a premium listing.

\ “The return on investment is dramatic — it pays for itself with the revenue of one or two patients a year,” says Dr. Peter Hudson, an ER physician who last year founded a company called Healthagen to develop iTriage.

Statistics show that by 2011, consumers will be buying more smart phones than computers. Apps, the latest success story from Apple, bring detailed, often live and interactive information to customers’ iPhones. Customers often pay nothing or 99 cents but sometimes $4.99 or more to download them from Apple’s online App Store. As of September, 50 million iPhone and iPod Touch owners worldwide had downloaded more than 2 billion apps.

iTriage is in the top 10% of those downloaded, says Hudson. But the question for businesses considering an app is whether it’s worth the cost — and if so, how to stand out among the 100,000 or so already out there. Simple apps can cost roughly $5,000 to create, says Matt Chapman, owner of Orlando-based Origin Technologies. Chapman developed a Florida poisonous snake app for fun. Its success led him to develop a Florida Bar exam-prep application for client Celebration Bar Exam Review. Company owner Jackson Mumey, like HCA hospital executives, sees the informational app as a draw for new clients who may not find him via traditional marketing.

Apps with slick video and graphics can range closer to $10,000 or $20,000 to develop. But that’s less than television advertising, with a far greater personal touch, says Brent Pope, principal at mobile-technology firm Contagion in Jacksonville. “There are people out there right now raising their hands and volunteering to put your information, put your brand in their pocket,” he says. “Asking whether it’s worth it is like asking whether advertising is worth it or whether you should have a website.”

Pope points to Volkswagen’s recent decision to pitch its latest GTI through an iPhone app rather than TV. VW’s marketers say the campaign is about making advertising individualized. But it’s also going to save money. The company’s 2006 GTI ad blitz cost $60 million, while the iPhone app campaign will cost an estimated $500,000, according to AdAge.

Tags: Business Services

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