David Slifka, Vice President of Commercial Operations
I’m sure I’m like most people – I chat with my significant other about what we need at Target, make a list, and head out to the store.
However, these trips always end up with me loading more stuff into my car than what was on the list. Why is that?
Retail has figured out how to engage and connect with consumers – especially with its in-store layouts and navigation, putting as many products and options in front of the customer’s eyes as possible.
What can healthcare learn from this? No, I don’t propose we start advertising sales on strep throat tests or selling lab draws in bulk, but the industry must understand how consumers think, how they look to get care, and why convenience plays a huge factor to help health systems keep customers in-network.
Retail organizations have specific strategies focused on their consumers. Health systems can draw inspiration from the retail industry’s customer engagement and satisfaction approach and avoid leaking patients through their “digital side door.”
Digital Side Door vs Digital Front Door
In the dynamic healthcare space, a digital consumer strategy is not optional, and organizations that consider it an afterthought dig a deeper hole for themselves by the day.
As patients seek convenience and seamless experiences, health systems must adapt their digital solutions to meet changing patient expectations.
A critical aspect of this transformation is understanding the difference between the digital side door and the more often discussed digital front door.
- Digital front door: This represents the virtual means of patients engaging with their healthcare providers.
- Digital side door: This relates to patients seeking lower-value services outside their primary care network.
Like grocery and department stores optimize layouts to enhance the shopping experience (see my over-full cart from Target), healthcare providers should aim to understand patient habits, user actions and how to analyze and drive them.
By acquiring in-depth knowledge of their patients’ preferences and behaviors, health systems can ensure their digital side door leads patients to the right street and ultimately directs them back to their services. This understanding is crucial to help patients avoid the busy and confusing streets of competitors.
Matters of Convenience
Convenience has emerged as a decisive factor in patient loyalty. According to a study by NRC Health, a staggering 80% of patients reported that they would switch healthcare providers based solely on convenience factors.
This shift in patient expectations is primarily driven by younger generations, namely Gen Z and millennials, who represent almost half of the U.S. population. To cater to these demographics, healthcare systems must recognize the importance of convenience and adapt their digital solutions accordingly.
The rise of digital platforms, such as social media influencers on TikTok and Instagram, has revolutionized how patients seek healthcare information and guidance.
Also, consider that 62% of Gen Z use digital patient portals, reinforcing the reality that health systems must continuously strive to provide the type of experience they expect or risk losing them through the side door.
Today’s patients are empowered consumers, seeking healthcare services when and where they want them. A recent America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) survey found that 69% use telehealth because it is more convenient than an in-person appointment.
Retail giants like Amazon and Walmart have long understood the importance of convenience and customer satisfaction. Their mastery of e-commerce and how to set consumer expectations is second to none, but hope is not lost.
The traditional healthcare industry possesses a unique advantage in its profound understanding of patients. By leveraging this knowledge and offering intuitive, navigable, and patient-centered digital solutions, health systems can ensure that patients do not bypass their services through the digital side door.
Stop Leaking Patients Out of Your Side Door – Improve Their Experience Now
Healthcare is undergoing a profound transformation in the digital age, with convenience at the forefront of patient expectations. Understanding the digital side door and leveraging it as an opportunity rather than a threat is vital for health systems to retain patients and remain competitive.
By embracing digital transformation, catering to the preferences of younger generations, and learning from the retail industry’s customer-centric approach, healthcare providers can create seamless and patient-centered experiences.
Curbing patient leakage through the digital side door is integral to future success. Health systems must lead patients back into the trusted care of health systems while delivering the convenience they desire.
Xealth is an industry leader in patient engagement and experience, digitally engaging over 3.5 million patients. In addition, Xealth specializes in facilitating collaboration among digital health solutions that can help health systems determine which options to recommend for which patient populations and which workflows will yield the best results.
Learn more about how Xealth can improve your digital front door, limit patient leakage through the side door, and even acquire new patients with a strategy tailored to your health system. Request your consultation today!