Digital front door: modernizing the healthcare consumer experience

During this time of rapid change, healthcare organizations have experienced a crisis of consumer loyalty.

This crisis has revealed the lack of progress that healthcare has made in modernizing the consumer experience and meeting patient expectations.


In a session sponsored by Geonetric at the Becker's Patient Experience + Marketing Virtual Event, Ben Dillon, chief strategy officer for Geonetric, discussed results of recent Geonetric surveys on digital patient engagement and shared insights into solving the modern challenges to the digital patient experience.

Four key takeaways were:

  1. Healthcare organizations have been experiencing a consumer loyalty crisis. In Geonetric's 2022 healthcare consumer survey, the company found that 43 percent of consumers received care from a new provider or health system within the past two years. Some of the reasons were expected: a new condition meant that the primary provider referred the patient elsewhere, or the patient's overall healthcare needs were changing. "But we saw an equally large group of patients who said, 'I'm unimpressed with the experience I'm having here," Mr. Dillon said. "They were saying, 'Nothing here is strong enough for me to value this over other factors like needing something better — better service, better options — it's time to try something new.'" Also new, he said, was increased pricing sensitivity amongmconsumers, meaning that provider organizations need to compare their pricing against emergent competitors like Amazon, healthcare start-ups and pharmacies.

  2. Healthcare must prioritize the user experience and personalization. "As we add more websites, portals, apps, messaging and social media, many of these things have become siloed environments, where the experience that people have from one point to another can be very, very different," Mr. Dillon said. That stands in contrast to many consumer experiences, where users can see when their pizza is being made and when it's en route to delivery, where their package is and more. "You need to make sure you have people in your organization who are providing a consistent patient experience, whether that's when a patient is calling on the phone, showing up in person or engaging through an app, a website, a portal or any channel," he said.

  3. Transform the digital patient "front door." The often-fuzzy term "digital front door" lacks a consistent meaning, Mr. Dillon said. It's often used to talk about patient portals or any digital entry point. But most of those touchpoints are purely informational, and increasingly patients expect to use digital applications to seamlessly take care of tasks like appointment scheduling. "Most of the time, they still have to pick up a phone or head to a care facility to actually get things done or get things scheduled," Mr. Dillon said. Providers need to expand their thinking about the digital front door to encompass all of the activities in which patients engage.

  4. To get there, focus on the right points of engagement (web, text, app, chatbot), that deliver useful data and personalization. Where is the patient accessing the experience? Geonetric survey data shows that websites are useful early in the patient journey, while texting is appreciated in an established patient-provider relationship where the patient can ask questions and get appointment reminders. Meanwhile personalization — while it needs to be mindful of HIPAA — can provide patients with a more robust and tailored digital experience that keeps them engaged.

Healthcare organizations need to refocus their efforts on the digital patient experience as consumer-grade competitors, as pharmacies, tech giants and healthcare start-ups continue to emerge. A renewed focus on the digital patient experience with a partner like Geonetric provides a roadmap to get there successfully.

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