Note: This is the first of several articles on the healthcare website experience. We talked with Rob Klein, Founder & CEO of Klein & Partners, a healthcare marketing research and brand management consulting firm and co-developer of gSight℠—a website survey tool designed to discover the voice of the digital customer—for his insights.
Many healthcare organizations have begun to measure website visitor experience. Measuring website experience is different from measuring satisfaction. Experience measurement helps an organization to find the “pain points” on its site so that visitor experience can be improved.
For many organizations, most website pain comes from visits related to transactions. Some major transactional web visits include bill pay, scheduling a doctor’s appointment and choosing a doctor. Certain types of small, infrequent transactional visits, such as donating online and volunteer sign-up, score well. The two most frequent types of transactional visits to healthcare websites—paying a bill and scheduling an appointment—are the biggest sources of dissatisfaction on many healthcare websites.
Online Bill Pay
The harsh truth is that healthcare providers, as an industry, are not very good at taking people’s money in online transactions.
Almost every other industry that conducts financial transactions online has been doing it for years and without drama. It’s just the way they conduct business. In healthcare, however, most organizations are still mailing out bills, and even though we offer online bill paying, it’s very difficult for many users. From gSight study results, website visitors have asked the following questions about online bill paying:
- Why do I have to keep filling out the form every time? Can’t you save my data?
- Why do I have to go in and pay the doctor bill and then go back in and pay the hospital bill? Why can’t it just all be one bill?
- Why don’t you send me a receipt that I paid?
- Why isn’t there a way to track the balance of what I paid, when I paid it and what I still owe?
Their expectations are often set from online bill pay experiences in other industries and they cannot understand why healthcare bill payment is not at the same level.
Obviously, the way that insurance claims are processed and paid can affect hospital billing. However, while this is a complicating factor internally, the patient should not bear the brunt of it. Patients are basically saying to hospitals: “You need to wait until you get all the bills in before you send a bill to me.”
Historically, hospitals have not had to deal much with consumer billing because they collected small co-pays at the time of service. But in today’s health insurance climate, people are paying more and more out of pocket. It should be up to the providers to coordinate with insurers to keep track of claims and payments. When providers send a bill, it should be a single bill that explains and breaks out everything. One comment from a patient regarding the bill pay function was: “You claim to be a system, yet you can’t even give me one bill. I get a bill from the doctor, the hospital, the facility. You should send me one bill with everything broken out. I should be able to go into the site one time with my credit card and pay it all. Why are you making me pay all these different bills? You can’t even keep track of it for me.”
When we look at the ability to transact business on the website, making an appointment has to be at or near the top of the “needs improvement” scores, based on our experience with the gSight survey. In a recent focus group session, a participant said, “Why is it that I can get a restaurant table [reservation] on Open Table but have to call and argue with my doctor’s office to get an appointment?” Patients don’t accept our excuses anymore, nor should they.
Consider these facts:
- 81% of patients prefer to book appointments online. (Source: Intuit Health, Annual Health Care Check-Up Survey)
- 80% of consumers prefer providers with online scheduling. (Source: STAX Online Scheduling Study 2016)
- 67% of consumers choose online scheduling over location. (Source: STAX)
- 33% say that online scheduling availability will make them more likely to schedule an appointment. (Source: STAX)
- There are 6.5 billion (yes, that’s billion with a B) online physician searches each year.
- 40% of appointments made online are scheduled outside of business hours.
- Every self-scheduled patient appointment saves 8.1 minutes of staff time.
Appointment scheduling is the lifeblood of every healthcare organization, so why aren't we providing our patients with an online scheduling platform that makes it quick and convenient for them to make appointments? If we don’t do this for our patients, there are plenty of others out there who are ready, willing and able to do so. Not only can the ZocDocs and Healthgrades of the world help consumers find a doctor, in many cases, they can also schedule an appointment with one. Do we really want to surrender this function to a third party?
While many hospitals and healthcare systems are starting to use online scheduling, many more are not. There are internal IT issues that complicate online scheduling, such as:
- The type of EMR being used
- Allowing for new patients to schedule online or only current patients
- Which providers are included
But rather than using these IT issues as an excuse not to provide online scheduling for our patients, we must deal with these issues in order to make online scheduling work. Healthcare organizations continue to pass along their internal IT system dysfunctional issues and/or internal politics along to the customer in a world where consumerism is blossoming and new patients are increasingly choosing providers based on convenience and data.
Is your organization looking to improve website visitor experience? Is bill pay—or any other function on your website—getting you down? Do you want to ensure that your website users have a positive experience? How do you enhance their experience, build competitive differentiation and improve overall brand strength?
Greystone.Net can help! Our gSight tool is a healthcare pop-up survey designed to capture and identify customer experience improvement areas so you can improve and evolve your website as your customers’ needs progress and change.
If you would like to learn more about gSight, please join us for a complementary webinar on June 7, 2017, from 1:00-2:00 PM ET. You can also learn more about gSight by contacting us at 770-407-7670 or firstname.lastname@example.org.