How to ‘Unlock’ Healthcare’s Digital Front Door

When it comes to healthcare, the term “digital front door” is one of the biggest buzz words of the moment, and for good reason. Creating a strong, appealing digital front door will not only help organizations stand out from competitors but will help in winning new consumers. With 77% of patients believing the ability to book, cancel or change appointments online is important, offering digital tools for engagement is more important than ever. But what exactly makes a strong “digital front door” and what does it take to create one? What precisely does a digital strategy need in order to better engage and retain patients?

There are a lot of thoughts about what the digital front door entails, from transparency on pricing to ratings and reviews, reputation management, patient registration, and more. We agree with each of these benefits, especially as we know patients today are seeking greater transparency from their entire healthcare experience.

Yet each of the qualities above reflect more of a digital billboard than an actual front door. After all, the front door needs to be able to become an actual pathway to see a physician or other care. It isn’t truly a ‘digital front door’ until it can open and facilitate access to care as a part of the offering.

A true digital front door will do the following:

Engage patients. Patients are seeking convenience when it comes to accessing care. More and more patients are looking for information on care online and expecting the ease of finding what they need with a few simple searches. Making information available online about what services you provide, and where, is an obvious first step. To increase engagement you should enable consumers to simply and efficiently book the care they need online as well. Once they have found the information they need to make a decision, online scheduling improves conversions of healthcare information seekers to healthcare customers.

Enable omni-channel access. Improving access begins with offering more channels for patients to find the care they need. Digital scheduling drives patient access, plain and simple, whether it be through call centers, automated outreach, or via online self-scheduling. Without it, your digital front door is shut.

Improve productivity. Appointment bookings can significantly increase by offering the ability to schedule outside of business hours, which it turns out more than half of all patients prefer. Digital scheduling can also improve provider workflow by optimizing bookings while freeing up staff to focus on other activities. Automated reminders help improve patient show rates while data-driven practices help refine scheduling logistics over time to get the best results possible. 

Increase revenue. It may go without saying, but… When you provide better access, you will increase the number of patients coming to your practice – which means more revenue. But that’s not the only benefit, patient retention is also greatly improved as consumers enjoy the convenience of digital and mobile solutions. However, it is important that any digital access channels be able to match patients to the right care. If you really want a crowd pleaser that also generates revenue, automated business rules and scheduling protocols is a must have. 

Drive higher patient satisfaction. Faster, easier access to healthcare equals better satisfaction overall, with the process, with the organization, and with the provider. It’s what keeps them coming back for other, future care needs.

According to Pew Internet & American Life Project, 80 percent of Internet users, or about 93 million Americans, have searched for a health-related topic online. Up 62% from the figure in 2001. Understanding how new patients are seeking out healthcare information, including access to providers online, it is clear that every organization should be taking steps to truly open their digital front door.

To learn more on this topic and how digital care coordination can help, download our free guide: Omni-Channel Access: Unlocking the Digital Front Door.