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Build and optimize the whole patient journey, digitally

We used to think about the patient experience as what happens during an episode of care. What happens during an appointment, especially the patient’s interactions with doctors and nurses. But the modern “patient experience” is much more expansive. It now encompasses all the steps along the way—from finding provider information to pre-visit online research, from healthcare scheduling through the appointment itself, to follow-up communication and beyond. Digitizing every touchpoint of the patient journey is necessary to achieve high patient satisfaction scores, positive survey feedback, and 5-star patient reviews.

So, ask yourself: How easy is it to learn about your facilities and physicians online? How straightforward is contacting the office and making an appointment? Do patients have an easy way to leave feedback so they feel—and are—heard by those who know how to improve the patient experience? If you’re looking to tackle one or more of those initiatives, you’re in luck. Press Ganey has decades of patient experience data and first-class expertise helping healthcare organizations optimize the patient journey. And we’ve laid out an action plan for improving the digital patient experience below.

Kick off the patient experience journey right with up-to-date listings

Online listings are the first point of contact patients have with your organization. From Google Business Profiles to leading directories like Healthgrades, Vitals, and WebMD, patients visit around three different sites before deciding to see a provider. But encountering incomplete listings would discourage over ⅓ from booking an appointment. To reduce digital patient leakage and referral leakage, it’s important to keep your listings accurate and up to date on every site patients use to find care. Otherwise, one broken link or missing phone number could cause patients to slip through the cracks.

“People are starting their journeys in many different places, like Healthgrades, Vitals, and WebMD. And they can engage and make an appointment via the information they have right when they find it. We’re focused on bringing in as many people to those conversion points as possible.”


— Ashleigh Churchward, Director of Digital Channel Strategy, Northwell Health

Flex your reputation management skills by collecting high ratings and stellar reviews

Doctor star ratings and online patient reviews for doctors are the #1 factor impacting a patient’s decision to book an appointment. 84% of patients would even decide not to see a referred provider rated under 4 stars. Attract and win over patients actively searching for care with patient reviews that tell a consistent and compelling story across the web. Press Ganey’s Review Publishing solution converts patient survey comments into patient reviews broadcasted across the web, to sites like WebMD and hospital find-a-doctor directories. It helps you amplify your brand with recent, high-quality reviews published to all the right places.

Provide multiple healthcare scheduling options

Most (63%) of patients want to be able to schedule appointments digitally—i.e., on the web, via an app, or over email—vs. calling an office. Providing that option is important, so you meet patients through their preferred channels. Streamlining this “last mile” of the patient journey is key to reducing digital appointment leakage and boosting patient acquisition—no dropped calls or waiting on hold needed.

Expand your care with virtual options to deliver positive patient outcomes

It’s no surprise telemedicine use increased during the pandemic—surging 338% over pre-COVID numbers. As telehealth technology continues to become better, more intuitive, and more user friendly, reliance on virtual care is projected to remain on this upward trajectory. In short, people want virtual care. And many view it as a convenient, time-saving alternative to visiting an on-site location. Now that healthcare organizations have invested in improving telehealth and providing a friction-free experience, the next step is to assess where telehealth works best and let patients opt for virtual visits if it makes sense for them.

Prioritize digital communication to start improving patient satisfaction

The largest barrier to patient acquisition? “Difficulty contacting the office.” Communication is more important than ever in driving consumer trust, patient loyalty, and 5-star reviews. Around 60% of patients say great pre- and post-appointment communication is key to their loyalty. What’s more, 63.4% rank communication as more important than a physician’s bedside manner when it comes to the 5-star experience. Text, email, online portals, and in-app messaging have quickly become many people’s preferred ways to communicate. Keeping these digital lines of communication open helps more patients get the information they need in an easy and timely manner—improving patient satisfaction, securing better reviews, and converting more first-timers into loyal patients.

“What would be most transformative is helping patients navigate the healthcare system. Assuming you can provide great care, recruit amazing clinicians, and build great infrastructure, at the end of the day, if your patients can’t navigate the system, you haven’t transformed healthcare.”


— Steve Nelson, CEO, Duly Health & Care

A seamless online experience can go a long way in building patient trust. While the digital experience is integral to patient acquisition, continuously collecting data, through surveys and other digital feedback channels, lets you know how you’re performing. This data will provide key insights into the steps you can take to keep getting better—and keep improving the patient experience.

To learn more about digitalizing the patient journey, reach out to an expert.

About the author

Press Ganey invented the healthcare performance improvement movement over 35 years ago. Today it offers an integrated suite of solutions that address safety, clinical excellence, patient experience, and workforce engagement. The company works with more than 41,000 healthcare facilities in its mission to reduce patient suffering and enhance caregiver resilience to improve the overall safety, quality, and experience of care.

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