The evolution of customer preferences has accelerated across the board over the past two years – but if the pandemic has thrust a brighter spotlight on any one industry in particular, it’s healthcare.
Healthcare consumers are increasingly seeking seamless, omnichannel experiences. They want digital and self-service options where they make sense, but also need to be able to connect with knowledgeable people when more complex or sensitive situations arise that require a human touch.
To deliver great experiences in the new normal, healthcare organizations need to take a modern approach to the interactions that have traditionally been in person or manual, offering a more integrated, digital, frictionless experience for patients and members.
It’s time to embrace a “digital front door.”
This type of digital-first strategy empowers patients and members to access information, support, and even care right from the palm of their hands. Simply put, a successful digital front door strategy provides more ease, convenience, and accessibility to patients and members, throughout the entire healthcare journey, at every single touchpoint.
Through the digital front door, healthcare customers can easily and effectively research care options, find new providers, schedule appointments, and manage their care delivery via mobile apps or online portals. Providers and payers can create better experiences by offering online financial services such as bill pay and e-forms, increase retention through surveys and review requests, and deliver greater convenience via simple processes such as online registration, wait time notification, and even digital parking passes.
A digital front door also brings the added benefit of a unified presence to an organization, which benefits patient and member experience. When a leading healthcare organization grew quickly through acquisitions, it struggled to offer patients a seamless, cohesive experience across its various branches. By adopting a digital-first strategy that prioritized patient experience, it created the opportunity to reduce call volume by 30% and cut average handle time by 25%.
Every healthcare organization can benefit
Today, healthcare is driven by choice. Whether a patient is searching for the right provider, or a member has begun evaluating potential health plans, just like every other industry, a primary differentiator is a superior customer experience. A digital front door strategy can dramatically improve the overall healthcare experience, delivering a strong return on investment based on a much more effective, digital-first service model.
A good strategy includes several primary elements that map to many of the recent key healthcare market shifts, including:
- Omnichannel engagement that incorporates patient and member individual preferences into the healthcare experience.
- Automation that reduces low-value or high-effort manual tasks and increases efficiency, helping to decrease the cost of care and increase employee productivity.
- Technology touchpoints across the patient/member journey that are easy to use and familiar to the healthcare consumer, delivered from a proven technology platform.
Additionally, a strong digital front door strategy helps providers and payers easily adapt to emerging healthcare trends while patients and members become much more engaged. Experiences that improve engagement increase the likelihood of building and maintaining longer-lasting relationships and improved health outcomes.
When two leading healthcare providers, Advocate Aurora Health and DispatchHealth, created digital front doors, they improved care outcomes, drove loyalty and acquisition, and set themselves up for future growth success – all while exceeding patients’ high expectations along the way.
Essentially, a digital front door gives patients and members a structured, easy-to-use, and familiar digital environment for choosing the products and services that best meet their needs.
5 key components to open the digital front door in healthcare
Wondering where to begin? Here are five components needed to build a successful CX strategy that meets consumer expectations and strengthens the omnichannel healthcare experience:
#1 Alignment: Like any successful CX strategy, the digital front door must align with and improve upon existing patient and member experience strategies to digitally transform your organization. Activities like journey mapping and CX process mapping can help uncover pain points and clarify how a digital front door plan can support your mission.
#2 Understanding: A 360-degree view of your consumers is necessary to build a strong digital experience. Building a complete, holistic understanding of your consumers' experiences will help you to identify gaps and opportunities for improvements and create a more rounded, consumer-centric environment.
Better understanding your consumers translates to better healthcare experiences and more opportunities for growth. For example, organizations may consider developing a voice of the customer (VOC) program to gain new insights, or may decide to perform persona mapping exercises to help understand their target segments better and better meet their identified needs.
It’s also important to prioritize gathering employee feedback and data, as these insights provide invaluable information on needs, preferences, trends, and pain points – both at the individual and group level. Improving the employee experience will lead to a measurable improvement in the consumer experience.
#3 Design: A strong design framework involves aligning every interaction, capability, and strategy to the functional and emotional needs of patients and members. It requires careful planning to ensure that organizations are mapping and capturing current consumer experiences – and translating that information into actionable data.
To support the design, equip your team with the right tools and technologies. It’s important to collect feedback from both customers and employees to encourage continuous improvement of the experience.
#4 Orchestration: Orchestration relies on a foundation of strong customer understanding combined with powerful design to carefully synchronize the best combination of people, processes, and technologies. Orchestration helps all three work in harmony to deliver a well-integrated omnichannel experience. Just as it would in a real symphony performance, orchestration keeps all the elements of the patient/member experience in sync so that every interaction, no matter how small, meets their needs and preferences.
Orchestration also ensures that planning and enablement are working together to deliver a strong digital front door for members and patients, which includes making the right technology choices to deliver the best experience. Orchestration helps guarantee more ease, convenience, and accessibility throughout the entire healthcare journey, at every single touchpoint, from the very first interaction.
#5 Measurement: The HCAHPS survey, STAR Ranking, and Net Promoter Scores (NPS) remain key metrics for measuring the customer experience – but these aren’t the only measures for evaluating the success of your healthcare experience strategies.
When gauging the success of your digital front door, consider including newer tools such as the Customer Effort Score (CES) that assesses support and transactional interactions, or the Customer Experience Index (CXI) that evaluates overall experiences over time.
Establishing experience measurements like these will help to ensure the success of your digital front Door and healthcare experience strategy and provide ongoing opportunities for improvement.
Now is the time to begin digital transformation
The healthcare industry, perhaps more than any other, has been forever changed by the pandemic. But amid so many challenges over the past two years, one silver lining has been digital technology’s ability to connect patients, members, and providers in new and meaningful ways.
While creating a digital front door strategy may seem like a big undertaking and for some will represent a big shift in the way they do business, investments made now will pay off long into the future in the form of more-integrated systems, better ROI, improved patient and member experiences, and more streamlined delivery of care.
Healthcare enterprises have had to adapt so quickly throughout the pandemic, often with little time to strategize. As we edge closer to a post-pandemic era, it’s crucial for these businesses to embrace a forward-looking approach and really invest in the future – and the new normal in healthcare is digital.