Many leading healthcare systems are making considerable investments into improving the patient experience once someone becomes a patient. But they still have a long way to go in regard to creating a better onboarding experience, especially by integrating digital and voice. My recent experience seeking personal care is a case in point.

For context, I joined SIM Partners in Chicago after working for Press Ganey in South Bend. I am immersed in healthcare, an industry that fascinates me endlessly. I am also a millennial, which means I use my mobile for almost all searches.

Not long ago, I needed to see an OB-GYN specialist, but I had no idea whom to see considering I’ve been relocating annually. So I did what comes natural: I used my mobile phone to search for options near me. Three providers appeared in the search results, and all of them listed easy-to-find phone numbers to schedule an appointment. So far, so good.

But I received wildly different onboarding experiences when I started calling providers to schedule an appointment. The first two providers insisted that I go to their websites and complete lengthy and complicated patient intake forms before they would even deign to talk with me about setting up an appointment. Frustrated, I tried a third provider, The South Bend Clinic — and fortunately, the third time was a charm.

Instead of erecting barriers to service, The South Bend Clinic quickly set up my appointment over the phone. They focused first on getting me into the door quickly and easily. Once I was there, I completed some simple paperwork — but only after I was in the doctor’s office. Problem solved.

Some of the takeaways from my experience:

  • There needs to be more focus on the patient experience prior to walking through the door.
  • Digital in and of itself is not the solution. A bad digital experience turned me away as a potential patient at the first two hospitals. Digital onboarding needs to be quick and easy, including the use of online scheduling tools for those who prefer them.
  • Providers need to think in terms of omnichannel onboarding – or coordinating an experience among multiple devices and channels. Simply referring a caller to a website is not a good experience.
  • Always think in terms of the next moment, or the action that happens after a patient finds you through a search. The South Bend Clinic won my business because the provider focused on moving me through the onboarding process rather than creating barriers.

Omnichannel” is a popular buzzword in healthcare, partly because the millennial generation demands it. In the words of a recent MediaPost column, “when it comes to healthcare, [millennials are] actually omnichannel-first.” Omnichannel is not going away. The challenge for healthcare systems: how are you creating a successful omnichannel experience to improve patient onboarding? Contact SIM Partners to discuss how we can help you.