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March 19, 2021

Welcome patients through your digital front door

Patient expectations have changed. While COVID-19 dramatically increased the use of virtual visits, many healthcare systems have yet to modernize the end-to-end patient experience.

With the rise of direct-to-consumer care, patients are becoming more savvy about their options and more direct with their preferences. A recent study shows patient attrition due to a poor digital experience has climbed 40% since 2019. And in 2020, nearly 30% of patients cited the same reason for switching to a different provider.

How can you engage patients with a delightful experience that rises to their expectations, driving loyalty? Here are four key considerations as you consider building the best digital front door to retain patients.

1. First impressions set the tone of the patient experience

Long wait times and confusing care options often lead patients down a costly, over-navigated path to care. On average, patients wait at least 20 days to receive care after making an appointment, and spend around $140. Combine that with attempts to communicate with uncoordinated systems, redundant symptom intake and health history questions, and hard-to-access records, and it’s clear why the patient journey is less than satisfying.

A patient’s very first engagement–digital or otherwise–sets the tone for their entire health care journey with a provider. In a recent survey, 53% of patients said they would switch medical providers if it meant they could get access to touchless patient intake and registration tools. Ensuring the first interaction is intuitive, user-friendly, and guides them to the right care as quickly as possible can go a long way in earning patient trust.

2. Symptom checkers are missing information, not to mention human touch

Before last year, the majority of online health interactions were centered around using a symptom checker. Unsurprisingly, a recent study of eight popular symptom checkers revealed they were outperformed by primary care providers across the board. Without access to a patient’s health history, symptom checkers are woefully limited in their ability to correctly diagnose conditions.

The best care encounters combine patient-centric digital tools that collect health history information in addition to the patient’s complaints, symptoms, and preferences, with a physician who reviews and approves a treatment plan. The patient needs to feel confident that the information they’re sharing will trigger a dynamic set of actionable next steps, and trust that they’re still getting quality care from a trusted provider.

3. Replacing in-person visits with video doesn’t get to the roots of the problem

Online video visits, while great for driving convenience and breaking down geographic barriers to care, often create yet another information silo. The same problems persist: gaps in care, frustrated patients, and heavy administrative lifts for providers. Without a way to tie every care encounter together, or to know when telehealth is recommended for their unique symptoms, patients are left navigating a fractured care continuum–and, too often with suboptimal health outcomes.

The answer isn’t as simple as replacing in-person services with virtual ones. This approach solves few of the remaining problems, but actually fails to address the roots of the problems in care delivery.

4. Improve the patient experience across the entire care continuum

A better patient experience is one focused on their entire health journey–not just a single episode of care. It aligns with their preferences, meets them where they are with expert clinical guidance and takes into account their entire health history. A digital interview, navigation, and treatment platform that integrates with the EHR makes this possible.

With greater control of their entire health picture, and the ability to access the right care for their current condition, patients will be more likely to stay loyal to one provider. This human-centered approach combined with the right digital tools puts patients where they belong: at the center of healthcare.

To learn more about how navigation and virtual health work together to deliver more satisfying patient experiences and better health outcomes, get in touch with one of our Virtual Product Educators.

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