This is one chapter of a four-part series that discusses the Digital Maturity Healthcare Journey and provides actionable advice on how to identify your current stage and how to progress upwards in your digital maturity journey as an organization. To check out the additional parts of this series, click here!
While COVID-19 has been getting the lion’s share of the healthcare headlines over the past two years, other long-term trends have also been quietly driving major structural changes in the industry. Healthcare providers have to adapt to the rise in healthcare consumerism as “digital-native” Gen Z and millennials, who are making up an increasingly large share of the adult population, bring their online shop-and-compare habits to the medical realm. All the while, the industry is dealing with the changes brought on by a shift toward value-based care and an increased focus on updating digital-healthcare regulations across the U.S.
For healthcare providers looking to keep pace with these shifts in consumer preferences and healthcare value pools, the “Digital Front Door” is proving to be an essential patient-facing piece of a digital healthcare strategy.
And Digital Front Doors help healthcare providers support their evolving consumerism capabilities to supercharge growth, engagement, and efficiencies. Providers can use these tools to bridge EHR functionality like appointment scheduling, refills, and test results with consumer-friendly features such as provider finders for prospective patients, support groups, wayfinding, and personalized content to create healthy habits.
Of course, in the highly competitive healthcare market, there is little room for investments that don’t have a measurable impact on an organization’s bottom line, its ability to acquire and retain patients, and the healthcare outcomes of those patients.
A Digital Front Door will increase efficiency, refine growth strategies, boost patient loyalty, and provide a better way to measure key metrics relevant to running a successful practice or healthcare organization.
Utilization Rate of Online Appointment Bookings & Electronic Check-ins
In healthcare, margins are slim, but incremental steps toward automating tasks that are otherwise handled through the phone and on paper can help. Freeing up front- and back-office care team members and direct care providers from non-value-add activities — like copying paperwork, looking for charts, or talking on the phone — means they can spend more time focusing on reimbursable activities.
A study of 18 large companies found that “direct labor costs” for call-center employees were as high as $3.29 for a three- to four-minute phone call. When calculating additional costs such as benefits and rent, the cost was as high as $5.60 per call. And the cost of phone time is higher for highly trained (and higher-paid) employees.
But a Digital Front Door does more than just free up valuable personnel time that can be better spent elsewhere and driving more efficient workflows. It can provide patients with helpful e-health tools — including online booking and check-in and access to paperwork, charts, and test results — that give patients round-the-clock digital access to their healthcare provider, so when a parent is up at 3 in the morning with a sick toddler, they can book that 9am appointment with their primary care provider instead of waiting for the office to open.
By tracking the number of appointment bookings and check-ins done online, you can easily calculate the total time saved by multiplying the average for each of these activities. As few as 10 online bookings per day could result in savings of nearly $400 each 7-day workweek based on the $5.60/call labor cost calculations above.
Net New Appointments Booked Online by New Patients
Patients today have plenty of healthcare options, and thanks to the internet, it’s easier than ever for them to find the doctor or clinic that is most convenient for them. When a potential patient doesn’t find an available appointment at the first clinic they look at, they’re likely to move on to the next and never look back. And if healthcare providers aren’t scheduling, staffing, and allocating resources when and where they are most in-demand, they are leaving money on the table.
With a Digital Front Door platform, healthcare providers have access to more data on when people are searching for care and in what areas. This preponderance of data can help decision-makers know when it would be worthwhile to extend hours, reassign specialists to underserved clinics, or establish a new location. Knowing when telehealth requests for specialists are preferred can also help when deciding whether it's worth staffing on weekends or evenings, for example.
In addition to this, the data available through a Digital Front Door makes it possible to track asset utilization, including which specialists are underbooked or which tools and equipment are booked to capacity.
A data-driven strategy that includes a Digital Front Door makes it possible for healthcare providers to monitor how and when specialists and clinic resources are in high demand. Combining this with resource utilization data helps providers improve growth strategies by redirecting resources to underserved time frames or locations.
Better allocation of specialists and other healthcare resources means healthcare providers can take advantage of previously unanswered demand and open up new revenue streams. And by identifying and tracking the number of appointments made by new patients in a given period, healthcare providers can calculate exactly how successful their reallocation strategies are.
Return Rate & Net Promoter Score℠ of Existing Patients
The rise in consumerism in the healthcare industry has shown us that patients are increasingly expecting streamlined interactions, on-demand access to account information and records, and other consumer-friendly features they’ve become used to in so many areas of their lives. Healthcare providers who aren’t able to keep up are likely to see patients explore other options in search of a more modern service experience.
For healthcare providers, keeping existing patients happy should be a top priority. Many of the costs associated with patient acquisition are upfront costs. You don’t have to spend money on advertising your clinic to a current patient, for example, since they already know who you are. Because of this, the value of a patient grows each time they return for a new doctor visit or their next checkup.
According to Ali Cudby, CEO of a leading marketing firm in the field of customer retention, the cost of acquiring new customers is between six to seven times more than keeping the customers you already have.
Of course, retention shouldn’t be the only goal. In addition to focusing on keeping their current patients, healthcare providers should also be focusing on keeping their current patients happy. When new patients look for a healthcare provider, they are increasingly turning to online reviews — a practice that has long been a staple of consumer-focused businesses like restaurants or hotels. And as any restaurant owner can tell you, unhappy customers love to share their poor experiences with anyone who will listen. In fact, Inc. claims that it takes around 40 positive customer experiences to make up for the damage of a single unhappy customer.
The Digital Front Door helps healthcare providers deliver a better overall patient experience by taking pressure off critical customer support resources, streamlining and digitizing many tasks, and giving the patient a more personalized healthcare experience.
We can easily see the value of improved patient experience by tracking retention using the return rate of existing patients. Including metrics such as Net Promoter Score, a rating of an individual’s likelihood to recommend a product or service to someone they know, can provide additional insights into patients’ attitudes.
See How Bottle Rocket Can Help You Open New Opportunities with a Digital Front Door
Bottle Rocket has worked with leading healthcare providers, including the multi-billion dollar SCL Health to implement a Digital Front Door solution across their more than 150 hospitals and clinics. To see how these digital tools helped SCL Health improve healthcare outcomes, increase patient loyalty, and overcome the challenges of a global pandemic, read our case study about putting the power of healthcare in the hands of patients.
This article is part one of a three part series about digital healthcare maturity as mentioned in the infographic. View the stages below:
Stage 1: Develop consumerism capability
Stage 2: Supercharge growth, engagement, and efficiencies
Stage 3: Anticipate and incentivize
If you are interested in early-access to the additional parts of the series, download the complete ebook now and receive a bonus piece of relevant reading today!
Also published on DotMed.com