As we emerge from the pandemic, healthcare marketing and communications teams that had quickly shifted gears away from promotional efforts during the crisis to providing education and maintaining engagement are now moving forward to further build trust and loyalty with constituents. Now more than ever, it’s important for health systems – in all communications with their communities – to engage and support patients and consumers to create experiences that are empathetic, personal, compelling and relevant.
At the same time, health systems face fierce, and in some cases new, competition as consumers have become more accustomed to a wider range of care options, from virtual care to retail healthcare services. Even for consumers who said they were satisfied with care they received, 80% said they would consider switching providers based on convenience factors, such as being able to schedule an appointment easily. In addition to expectations for convenience, today’s consumers also expect transparency about out-of-pocket costs. Fifty-nine percent of consumers say providers’ willingness to share price information prior to the time of service is a critical factor in determining where to seek care. Addressing these challenges is important to not only retain current patients, but also to deepen engagement with consumers who respond to outreach campaigns.
Many healthcare marketers have moved away from the siloed, service-line approaches to persona-based outreach. They leverage various channels, including their website, targeted mobile-messaging, social media content, and both online and offline outreach campaigns. Increasingly, consumers expect the interactions that result from this outreach to be frictionless and easily managed on the go from their smartphone. According to an IDC report, by 2023, 65% of patients will have accessed care through a digital front door as healthcare providers look for better ways to improve access, engagements, and experiences across all services.
Leveraging the R1 Patient Experience platform to offer the most convenient, consumer-focused digital experience, healthcare marketers can make it easy for patients to find and choose their health system over the competition. Here are strategies for how a digital front door supports consumer acquisition and engagement:
Many organizations offer digital self-service scheduling to current patients using their EMR portal. With a digital front door solution, self-service scheduling can be extended to not just current patients but to net-new consumers seeking care as well. In addition, with a platform that leverages rules-based automation, the self-scheduling process becomes highly reliable using embedded step-by-step guidance, whether the patient is scheduling a routine visit or an advanced diagnostic imaging procedure.
It’s the reliability and ease of use this capability provides that makes self-scheduling an intuitive call to action for outreach campaigns. For example, persona-based campaigns that target women of different ages may focus on scheduling for a variety of routine services, such as screening mammograms, birth center tours or wellness education sessions. Health education campaigns may use risk self-assessment questionnaires for heart disease or diabetes to drive scheduling for educational sessions or specialist consultations.
When consumers respond to these outreach campaigns, they can schedule easily based on their preferences for date, time and location. With real-time access to all locations, the guided self-scheduling process can offer the consumer convenient options, such as locations near their home or work.
Taking a step further, healthcare organizations with the R1 platform can take advantage of guided rule-based scheduling to allow patients to self-schedule more complex clinical services. This allows the health system to meet consumers where they are when they are seeking specialized services. For example, when a physician wants their patient to have diagnostic imaging, such an MRI or CT scan, it is now more common for consumers to shop around to find an imaging location that is in their insurance network and meets their needs for service times and locations. Having a guided self-scheduling process in place makes it feasible for healthcare organizations to make a broader range of advanced services, such as diagnostic radiology and nuclear medicine, available for patient self-scheduling. In turn, these services can be the basis for targeted outreach, resulting in increased volume for high-value service lines.
When a consumer or patient responds to an outreach campaign, make all the information they need to schedule their visit, diagnostic imaging procedure or educational session readily available. Today’s consumers want to review cost information as part of their decision about where to receive care. Health systems can meet this expectation using the R1 Patient Experience platform to provide self-service care estimation tools, so consumers can understand out-of-pocket costs before they proceed with scheduling. These integrated capabilities can estimate patient portion, based on coverage by a health plan, public program, self-pay, etc. By also offering flexible payment options, health systems not only meet consumer expectations for price transparency, but also reduce uncompensated care, improve patient payment collection and build trust with their constituents.
Once a consumer self-schedules a visit, follow up immediately to engage them further with an invitation to complete pre-registration tasks and fill out forms online before they arrive, using their own device. Not only do patients appreciate the convenience, giving them the means to complete pre-registration and intake forms prior to arrival also streamlines the data collection process. For returning patients, presenting them with information they provided at prior visits allows them to quickly confirm or update information, which improves accuracy and completeness. Insurance and identification card images are easily captured as well. Finally, integrate patient co-pay, balance information and payment options within the pre-registration process to increase payment collection at the time of service.
By making a convenient, frictionless experience integral to outreach campaigns, health systems build loyalty with current patients while maximizing marketing expenditures designed to draw in new consumers (check out the infographic on this topic as well). Leveraging the R1 Patient Experience platform, healthcare marketers can make their health system stand out in their market, while making it easier than ever for consumers and patients to choose their health system over the competition.
To learn more, download our eBook, Build High-Value Service Line Volume – 3 Strategies for Confidently Expanding Consumer Self-Service.
Donham Prescott is a Regional Vice President at R1.