Healthcare Digital Front Door Strategies | Binary Fountain

May 22, 2018

How to Improve Your Digital Front Door Strategy

By: John McFeely

There’s a lot of discussion these days about the Digital Front Door, and how it informs the experience hospitals and medical practices offer to healthcare consumers. According to the Society for Healthcare Strategy and Marketing Development, 77% of consumers search online before booking an appointment, making your facility’s presence on the web more important than ever.

We will cover what a comprehensive digital strategy looks like for healthcare facilities and what steps your organization needs to take.

Build a Great Website: Your Digital Front Door

Consumers want the same online experience with healthcare companies that they value in non-healthcare settings.

When they arrive at your digital front door, or your website, visitors expect convenience, ease of use and accessibility on par with the best. That doesn’t mean merely being better than your healthcare competition.

Consumer expectations for online experience and engagement are now set and constantly raised by mega-retailers like Amazon, as well as banks and other service related industries. As marketers or practice managers, we want to focus on what makes healthcare different from leading online and big box commerce sites. Your visitors care much less about those differences – if they can’t quickly see a path to the answers they seek, you have missed an opportunity to connect and engage.

How to Build a Great Healthcare Website

What makes the largest online retailers so successful? It’s their dedication to putting their users first. From simple to use navigation to contacting your facility with one tap on their smartphone, users care more about functionality than they do about a pretty design.

Easy Site Navigation

The primary satisfier for a consumer is the site’s navigation.  If they get frustrated, they will not use your services.

Just as hospitals are adopting wayfinding solutions to help people navigate their maze of hallways, hospital web sites need to adapt to healthcare consumers seeking information.

Your digital front door must welcome the visitor. Whether finding the right provider for their care, booking an online appointment, being able to review test results, or paying a bill, it’s imperative to help them find what they need quickly.

Start by organizing your pages into categories with standard terms that make sense to your user. The easier it is for them to quickly understand the actions they can take, the faster they will be able to take action.

For example, if you have an “About Us” section, don’t name it “Meet our Team.” Simplicity is always preferred.

Make it Easy for Users To Contact You and Make Appointments

The most common actions practices want users to take on their website are to learn about the practice, contact the practice/physician or book an appointment. With that in mind, you should focus your design efforts on making those interactions as easy as possible.

For example, make your phone number click to call. Nothing causes more friction for a user than having to copy your phone number and then paste it in their dial menu. The same is true for directions.  It’s the little things that greatly improve a patient’s experience with your digital front door.

If you do not offer online scheduling for appointments, invest in the technology you need to make it happen. Your patients and bottom line will thank you.

Build Trust Through Content

Explain why your practice facility should be the first choice for the patient. Healthcare consumers want to know they are going to a trusted provider with a trustworthy history.

If your facility has won awards or if you have patient testimonials, proudly display them. Patients choose medical facilities they feel like they can trust for exceptional care.  Similarly, post your star ratings from surveys.

Don’t Just Focus on the Homepage

The digital front door for your facility is more than just the hospital home page and search window. Dayton Children’s Hospital, for example, identifies some 80 ‘microments’ in the consumer healthcare journey, progressing from discovery to exploration to evaluation to engagement and experience.

This analysis brings Nurse Chat, ED and Urgent Care check-ins and patient portal into their front door strategy, along with social media, star ratings and local listings.

How to Build Great Provider Pages

Provider pages are great opportunities to showcase your doctors and build trust.

Some things to include in your provider pages:

  • Provider ratings
  • A quick bio (consider a video bio)
  • Offices
  • Specialties or areas of interest
  • Accepted insurances
  • Ability to schedule an appointment
  • Schema markup

If you aren’t leveraging Schema on your provider profile pages, they may not appear in search results. Schema is a certain kind of tag that helps search engines like Google organize data and accurately display it for users.

Schema tagging your provider pages will ensure search engines have the right information to prioritize your pages in their search results, increasing the chances people will find your provider pages.

You can find out more about Schema markup here.

Expand Your Digital Marketing Strategy

Now that you’ve improved your website, it’s time to expand your digital marketing efforts into other areas like search engine optimization and managing online reviews.

For much more on the digital front door, check out the SHSMD hosted webinar called Defining the New Digital Front Door. You’ll get insight on top-of-the-funnel consumer entry paths like organic and paid search, local listings, and third-party reviews, plus advice on avoiding common pitfalls. Also covered are the very important metrics you need to help measure the progress of your program.

Introduced by Binary Fountain’s own Aaron Clifford, three panelists offer great ideas and real world experience in improving patient engagement:

Chris Boyer, host of the Touchpoint Podcast and
Director, Digital Strategy and Analytics
Fairview Health Services

Blake Long
Director, Marketing Technology and Strategy
UnityPoint Health

Grace Jones
Consumer Brand Manager
Dayton Children’s Hospital

About the Author

John McFeely
Sales Director

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