Building the optimal digital patient journey

Their journey begins long before entering your practice.

Have you thought about what it is like for a new patient that discovers your practice and chooses you as a provider? The patient journey is the entire sequence of events that your patient experiences. By putting yourself in their shoes at each step in the process, you can start to design an experience that will generate more happy, healthy patients for your practice.

Discovery

A patient’s journey begins when they first discover they have a problem and begin to conduct research. They may speak to friends and family, but more than likely they will begin their search for answers online.

Think about the types of symptoms and problems that your patients are likely searching for and then develop content pages for the most common problems. Web pages should include background on the symptom, links to authority resources, and ideally a related video. Being discovered during the research phase will position you as a trusted expert early in the patient journey.

Selection

As patients become more educated on their symptoms, they will begin to seek out providers to help. In this stage, it is important to have pages on your site that are specific to the service that you provide. For example, if you have a physical therapy practice you will want to ensure that you have a page on your website with content that speaks to what makes your practice different from the competition and that this page is properly optimized for search engines.

Positive online reviews play a significant role in the decision process, which is why it is critical to have an online reputation management program in place. 94% of healthcare patients report using online reviews to evaluate providers and 84% of consumers say they trust reviews as much as personal recommendations. After a visit or a defined number of visits, send a follow up email and text message with a link to your Google Review page.

Scheduling

How difficult is it to find your practices contact information on your website? What happens when a patient contacts your practice to schedule an appointment? When making healthcare decisions, consumers prefer convenience and access even above insurance coverage and quality of care. 80% of patients said they would switch practices for convenience purposes alone, according to NRC Health.

68% of patients surveyed say they are more likely to choose a practice that offers the ability to book online. Online scheduling can lead to an increase in new appointment requests, and when paired with appointment confirmation and reminder emails, it often leads to less no-shows.

Pre-Appointment Onboarding

When a patient is scheduled for a visit, how do they complete registration paperwork and sign important documents? Minimize wait times by allowing patients to pre-register online. When a patient receives their appointment confirmation, include a link to an online form where patients can enter demographic information, insurance medical history, and sign documents. Due to the sensitive nature of healthcare information, intake software will need to be HIPAA compliant.

Appointment

When someone visits your practice what is their first impression? The waiting room experience and your front desk staff interactions play a major role in how quality of care will be perceived. Long wait times, a lack of privacy, and uncomfortable surroundings are all common complaints.

Actual wait times are not as important as perception of wait times. You can help patients feel more connected to their care by offering free WIFI and directing them to helpful educational content on your website in the form of articles and videos. For patients who did not pre-register you can offer tablets or direct them to online registration forms.

Post-Appointment

What happens after a patient visits your practice is just as important as the activities leading up to a visit. Patients should receive an email thanking them for a visit and a survey to gauge their satisfaction. A best practice is to use a 1-10 rating scale, with 9-10 considered promoters, 7-8 considered passive, and 0 to 6 considered detractors. This is known as a Net Promoter Score and is a widely accepted measure of consumer satisfaction. Any promoters should be directed to your Google Review page.

A patient portal is a secure online website or mobile app that gives patients 24/7 access to their health information. You can utilize a portal to send HIPAA compliant, secure messages or test results to your patients. Portals can also be used as a way to accept outstanding payments and to send payment reminders.

Author Bio
Ryan Camlin is the founder of Amplify Health. He has more than two decades of experience in digital marketing, having helped thousands of small businesses grow their online presence.