It’s More Than A Website
Competition at the enterprise level is fierce, and the ability to expand your reach while keeping costs in check is paramount to your success. One strategy that has often been used by healthcare systems is to buy more clinics, offices, or hospitals. Physical real estate is so much more expensive than digital real estate.
Healthcare organizations have quickly discovered the need to create strong digital awareness for their brands. This awareness is the digital front door, and it means more than having a website. It’s a complete strategy focused on attracting people to your organization, creating an experience that encourages engagement, and eventually growing your patient base.
“You’re starting to see providers building a brand that’s based on being responsive to consumers rather than just building a brand that is based on extreme clinical excellence.”
-Kathy Hempstead Senior Advisor to the EVP of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
People are no longer accepting they “have to go to the doctor’s office”. They perceive themselves as medical consumers (née patients), and they do what consumers do: look for competitive pricing, improved convenience and accessibility via tech, good reviews, comments, and ratings, etc.
If you’re in the early stages of putting this strategy together, and most organizations are, a great place to start is with a checklist. Look at things like
✓ Digital tools are currently in use
✓ Marketing resources and commitment
✓ Virtual Care Strategy
✓ Metrics for success
✓ Team members
✓ Patient Portal and current usage
✓ Pre-implementation surveys and marketing research
✓ What digital strategies are the competitors using
Three Digital Front Door Keys
Researchers at healthcaresuccess.com discovered some interesting statistics why the digital front door is important.
“For those patients who converted and booked appointments, digital content is key to their decision-making.”
Consumerism in the healthcare marketplace is probably the top driving force in the creation of the digital front door. It puts the power in the hands of the patient. According to the American Time Use Survey of the total time a patient spends on a doctor’s appointment, 50% of it is taken up by travel and wait time. Furthermore, when compared to other industries, the travel and wait times for healthcare services are the longest.
Over the 11 year span of the study from 2006 to 2017, the annual cost of “when quantified by applying an individual’s hourly wage as an approximate measure of the economic cost of time spent, travel and waiting costs” was $89 billion. This is why patients are gravitating to telehealth and virtual care options that allow them to get their healthcare needs met successfully without leaving their home or office.
Mobile devices — everyone’s constant companion—play a major role in the digital front door strategy.
- 44% of people on a mobile device scheduled an appointment, compared to 34% who only use a computer
- 83% of patients visited a hospital website before scheduling an appointment
- 25% patients are booking appointments with their doctors through non-traditional means
- 77% used a search engine prior to booking an appointment
In 2016 The National Research Corporation (NRC) released findings from a survey they conducted concerning consumerism in healthcare.
- 70% of health system leaders have not started or are in the very early stages of consumer-centric thinking
- 8% of hospitals/health systems showed strong consumerism focus
- 90% of respondents said improving the consumer experience is the top priority.
So, you’re not out of the race ⏤ yet.
If you don’t tell them you built it, they won’t come. As the healthcare consumer conducts their search it behooves your organization to post directions to your door. It doesn’t have an address like your physical office, but it has a value which the consumer will use in their decision making ⏤ their decision to choose you and enter through your digital front door.
Marketing is an area where some organization’s leaders cut or do not commit enough resources in creating their digital front door. It is imperative to create materials to alert patients of the options available or changes in the digital tools they are using. These materials can be in-office signage, mailers, newsletters, mobile apps, Google ads, social media, emails and text messages (for public communication) and websites.
Be sure to collect patient email and cell phone data ⏤ include an opt-in checkbox to get their consent to use them to alert them of updates, changes and exciting new tools that they can use.
Virtual care is probably one of the most key in your digital strategy.
Why? It ticks many of the boxes on a digital front door checklist and having an enterprise virtual care engagement platform like eVisit gives you and your team a distinct advantage over traditional methods of attracting and delighting your patients along their healthcare journey to your digital front door. Your patient base sees providers from your network, not an outsourced third-party provider, on their mobile phone or on their desktop. To top it all off, scheduling, prescribing, intake, adaptive video, discharge, payment and follow-up can all occur within the platform.
If you’ve gotten this far in the article, then you must be thinking about your next steps.
Focus on identifying where your organization is in creating your digital front door. Define what that means for your unique position within your community. Ask yourselves:
- What do we already have in place that is driving patients to our digital front door?
- What are we doing well?
- What needs improvement?
- What do we need to add?
- What is wasting resources?
- What marketing strategy do we already have in place to alert our patients of what we offer?
- What is our virtual care strategy? (If you don’t have one - create it!)
- Is it aligned with our overall business strategy?
Start with these three key and you’ll be well on your way to unlocking a big, beautiful and easily findable digital front door.