Creating a Growth-Focused Digital Front Door in Healthcare

In 2021, providers spent a record of $1.9 billion on building digital front doors in healthcare, a 67% increase compared to the previous year. As the consumer technology trend catches on, what’s driving the massive investments in patient-focused strategies?

Well, to become a patient’s go-to provider, it has become evident that practices must offer certain virtual engagements and features outside their office or hospital buildings. A suite of digital technologies that drive better access and interactions throughout the care journey is necessary for this. So, what’s the importance of having a digital front door in healthcare, and how can your practice implement it to attract patients? Let’s have a look.

What is the Digital Front Door?

A digital front door is a single access point that allows consumers to engage virtually with health services at every touch point across their care journey. An omnichannel engagement strategy that enables patients to quickly find your practice, manage their health, consult you, schedule an appointment, or even receive virtual care outside your practice’s physical walls.

Key Components of a Digital Front Door Strategy for Practices

The truth is, by implementing a digital front door strategy, you’re meeting consumer expectations for omnichannel experiences that are long-established in other industries. It’s one of the most important considerations in a patient’s choice of provider.

At the very least, your digital front door for healthcare services should have the following features:

Seamless Appointment Scheduling

U.S. healthcare practices lose over $150 billion each year due to missed appointments, and every unused time slot in your appointment schedule may cost you about $200.

Online appointment scheduling is one of the most useful telemedicine features and can help you reduce patient no-shows and last-minute cancellations. With the tool, you can automatically send multiple appointment reminders to patients to visit your office as scheduled.

Sending these reminders through technology in the hands of consumers, such as through texting, email, and phone calls, makes the strategy highly effective for practices.

For example, if your patient cannot make their scheduled appointment, you can offer a convenient way for them to reschedule online. This would allow your team to quickly move time slots around and keep your schedule full.

Read Article: Appointment Cancellation & No-Shows: What is the Best Approach to Handling Patient Cancellations?

Online Provider Search

This is the beginning of the patient journey for most consumers today, and it’s critical for an effective front digital door strategy in healthcare. Practices require two important things here: optimal visibility to get found online by patients, and a good reputation to be their preferred provider. That’s because patients will scan provider listings and compare ratings when searching for a new hospital, doctor, dentist, or other healthcare center.

At ScoreDoc, for example, consumers looking for providers can view and compare online doctor reviews compiled from platforms like Google, HealthGrades, Yelp, and more. The site even provides reputation scorecards that patients can check before choosing a provider.

You can easily see why online listings and review generation aren’t a luxury that practices can thrive without in today’s digital era.

Virtual Waiting Room

Virtual waiting rooms helped practices protect patients ahead of their in-person appointments during the pandemic. To avoid crowded waiting rooms, doctors implemented a digital equivalent that allowed arriving patients to safely wait in their cars or designated areas.

Congested waiting rooms are still a major issue for both patients and practices, even without the COVID-19 threat. Using virtual technology, providers can make these physical spaces less crowded by having them check in online and being contacted when the doctor is ready to see them.

Your team would then respond with instructions for where the patient should wait outside. Once there’s room for one more in the waiting queue inside, the patient can be instantly alerted to enter the building.

Read Article: 10 Easy Upgrades to Make Your Waiting Room More Patient-Friendly

Patient Intake Technologies

With a robust digital door front strategy, your healthcare practice can facilitate remote patient intake to shorten the wait room time. Most consumers have the means and desire to do this remotely–their smartphone, tablet, or laptop.

Meet your end of the bargain by providing online intake forms that patients can quickly fill out and submit before visiting. Better yet, why not include virtual care options like remote consultations and visits?

Whether through video chat or voice call, telehealth allows you to attend to more patients and elevate the care experience. It’s an efficient strategy to provide preventive care and help patients manage chronic conditions better.

Telemedicine and online patient intake capabilities can help streamline vital stages of the patient journey and increase visits to your practice. Most patients want it this way because it’s the easier route to care.

Read Article: Understanding the Importance of Reputation Management Tools in Telehealth

Automate Reputation Management

When crafting your digital front door strategy for healthcare, don’t skip the “online reputation part” because most people won’t skip them when looking up providers. In fact, 75% of patients will not choose a provider with anything less than a 4-star rating.

The problem is a handful of nice reviews isn’t enough to protect your image online. However, one or two bad ones can seriously affect the perception of your practice.

The best solution for your practice is to automate online review generation because the voice of your satisfied patients counts for something. Remember you need a stellar rating on multiple platforms that most patients usually check, from Google, HealthGrades, and Facebook to Yelp, WebMD, and Vitals.

Automation will allow you to survey your patients post-care and publish their positive feedback on as many physician review sites or online doctor directories as possible. As part of healthcare reputation management efforts, it’ll make it easier to identify any negative online reviews and quickly intervene to rescue the situation.

Read Article: Healthcare Reputation Management & Why is it Important

Final Takeaway

To attract and retain more patients, practices must embrace digital front door healthcare technologies that are driving patient-centric care experiences. At the very core of these trends are online reputation management, provider search, appointment scheduling, and a host of virtual care options and services.