The “digital front door” has been a critical element of patient access strategies across healthcare organizations for years—becoming even more important at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Kyruus continues to monitor the growth of this important patient access trend in its annual survey that reveals consumer preferences for finding, selecting, and accessing care, and uncovers key insights into how the “digital front door” has evolved for consumers, now representing many “digital doors” across the patient access journey.
Based on the findings of this year’s Patient Access Journey Report, here are three strategies that you can leverage today to expand the impact of the “digital doors” that consumers use to access your organization:
1. Meet Consumers Where They Really Are—Looking Beyond the Traditional Healthcare Organization Website For Online Engagement.
While consumers have made it clear that they trust healthcare organizations (e.g., websites, providers, staff), organic search results (e.g. Google search results), and health plans (e.g., websites, staff) the most when looking for care—they’re not limiting their searches to these sources. In fact, nearly 80% of consumers use two or more online resources when looking for a new provider online, including resources like third-party content websites (e.g., WebMD), review sites (e.g., Yelp), and even social media. The widespread access to information online makes it crucial that healthcare organizations take stock of how they reach consumers, ensuring that they have consistent information and easy calls to action no matter what door consumers choose to come through.
2. Enable a Consumer-Focused “Shopping Experience”—Prioritizing Critical Decision-Making Criteria.
Consumers have adopted sophisticated shopping behaviors, comparing and contrasting care options to choose the best fit for their needs based on a number of key factors. Consistently, those factors related to cost, quality, and convenience continue to surface as top priorities when selecting care, both today and in the future:
- Nearly all consumers (95%) take some kind of cost information into account when choosing care (e.g., insurance accepted, or out-of-pocket costs) and 2/3 would be more likely to book care where they had visibility into out-of-pocket costs.
- While cost is important, so is quality, which consumers gauge in terms of a provider’s clinical expertise (87%) and reputation (84%) when selecting care.
- Convenience also persists as a priority—with a majority of consumers favoring appointment availability as a key decision factor and half citing online booking as extremely or very important when selecting a provider. That’s up nearly 10 percentage points over the previous year.
Understanding what moves the needle on conversion allows healthcare organizations to serve up the right information, at the right time—delighting consumers and increasing new patient acquisition in tandem.
3. Prioritize Access to Self-Service Tools for Consumers—Offering Flexibility for Convenient Pre-Visit Experiences.
Self-service is a priority before and after an appointment is scheduled, evidenced in consumers’ preference for online scheduling (40% prefer online scheduling to other channels) and marked interest in completing pre-visit tasks (e.g., check-in, payment, insurance verification) through digital channels (93% are extremely or very interested). And, even though more consumers still prefer to book via phone, they experience varying outcomes when doing so—about 1/5 report long hold times when calling to book care, and of those, nearly 1/3 were unsuccessful in their attempt to book care. With preference for digital self-service rising, it’s a no-brainer for organizations to make convenient tools like online scheduling and check-in available to meet consumer demand for convenience and alleviate burden on staff.