Jan 26, 2024



Why Your Digital Front Door is More Relevant Than Ever in 2024

Patient-centric approaches are reshaping accessibility and engagement in healthcare. Explore how you can maximize the impact of your health system’s digital front door strategies in 2024 to keep up with consumer expectations.

In today’s fast-paced digital world, consumers are accustomed to accessing information quickly, no matter where they are. This expectation is no different in healthcare, making digital front doors more relevant and essential in 2024 than before. A digital front door opens up a path where patients are in control of their healthcare needs at any time. From filling prescriptions to scheduling appointments, omnichannel access to healthcare allows them to stay updated and taken care of before, during, and after they visit the doctor. 

When patients consider booking with new healthcare professionals, 72% first read online reviews and choose healthcare professionals who rate four out of five stars or higher. With 60% of consumers using digital scheduling to book appointments and another 60% expecting to be able to make changes to their appointments online, health system leaders must keep up with these consumer demands. After all, 94% of patients are willing to switch to a new practice that offers digital convenience.

However, with ongoing staffing shortages, access can be a key challenge. But even if you don’t have appointments to offer, there’s a way to route patients in the right direction—all while keeping up with consumer demands. It starts with looking at your digital front door. Learn why it’s not only a tool for patient acquisition and expanded access but also a glimpse into what your health system can offer. 

Bolstering the Digital Front Door Through a Patient-Centric Approach

Today’s tech-savvy consumers expect businesses across industries to keep up with them online. Retail giants like Amazon, Chase, and Disney have set a precedent—and individuals now expect the same forms of engagement and accessibility with healthcare.

Research from McKinsey supports this—63% of patients are interested in more digital health solutions. Leveraging digital tools to engage patients on the go can be a great way to enhance your health system’s digital front door, especially as the boom in consumer wellness products has changed the way we view healthcare. Since the pandemic, there has been a shift in patient priorities, with 63% of individuals becoming more concerned about health and wellness. As a result, mobile tools have seen an increase in demand to help consumers take better care of their health wherever they are. A robust digital front door can help your health system remain a core part of consumers’ lives at home and strengthen doctor-patient relationships. 

Despite the convenience and rising popularity of digital solutions/access, it’s crucial not to underestimate the value of in-person visits. Patients still want to feel supported and understood when addressing health problems with a physician, and how they feel before, during, and after an appointment can mean the difference between life-changing care and poor health outcomes.

What Does Digital Patient Engagement Look Like for Your Hospital?

Make sure you’re regularly engaging with patients and prospects online, providing various access points for contact and scheduling, and keeping high-quality care a top priority. Here are a few effective ways to facilitate this:

Online Appointment Scheduling

Online appointment scheduling (OAS) streamlines the patient experience by making it easy to book appointments and meet various healthcare needs without limitations of office hours and wait times. OAS also helps close the loop on your healthcare marketing strategy, encouraging patients to book an appointment with a doctor right when they’re top of mind. Healthgrades advertising partners can integrate OAS for in-person and telehealth services directly onto physician profiles to convert patients who are ready to appoint. Providing 24/7 online access can mean the difference between a newly acquired patient and lost revenue. 


Since the pandemic, the benefits of telehealth—including reduced wait times, increased access to care, and unparalleled convenience—have resonated with physicians and patients alike. And the demand for telehealth isn’t slowing down:

  • The Biden administration’s 2024 proposed budget allocates $45 million worth of measures to promote the sustainability of healthcare professionals in rural areas, which includes expanding access to telehealth services.
  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has extended several Medicare telehealth flexibilities introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic until December 31, 2024. 
  • CMS also offers technical assistance to enhance telehealth access for Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program beneficiaries, reducing the need for extensive travel to access in-person care. 

Telehealth appointments became the primary method of consulting with a physician when in-person appointments waned during the pandemic. However, since then, 34% of respondents say they’re more likely to book telehealth appointments, so it’s a tool worth promoting to acquire and retain patients. On healthgrades.com, for example, our advertising partners can  add a telehealth services badge to their physicians’ listings so that consumers searching for care options will be able to use telehealth as a filter to find a care team they can see remotely—quickly.

Asynchronous Care

A recent Healthgrades study showed that most consumers think asynchronous care—in which the doctor-patient exchange is not live—has the potential to increase convenience and save time on medical tasks. The same study revealed that eight out of 10 physicians already use asynchronous care, such as secure messaging or digital intake forms. Advantages include:

  • In-demand delivery that isn’t limited to an in-person appointment time.
  • Patients have more autonomy over their care experiences.
  • Streamlined clinical workflows reduce the time consumers spend waiting for care, increasing the number of patients a practice can see on any given day and ultimately driving revenue. 

With consumers seeking greater personalization and more on-demand care from health systems, asynchronous care has become a great way to deliver patient-centered care.

Conversational Artificial Intelligence

With its Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology and algorithms that can produce incredibly human-like conversation, conversational AI is already being deployed in healthcare settings. Conversational AI can assist with automating administrative tasks, streamlining workflows, and answering common patient questions about symptoms, treatments, and medications.

AI-equipped care delivery methods are the future, as more health systems utilize these tools to make the patient experience easier and more convenient. For instance, if a person wakes up in the middle of the night with stomach pain that’s not severe enough to go to the hospital immediately, they’ll likely decide to visit the doctor in the morning. But in the meantime, they can go online and engage with conversational AI, which can book an appointment based on their preferences. For example, Healthgrades offers Medchat, an AI chatbot integration on Healthgrades sponsored profiles, to facilitate smoother online appointment scheduling. With this technology, the patient can take action toward their health immediately, and your health system won’t risk losing a qualified patient simply because they couldn’t make an appointment over the phone during business hours. 

Improve Your Digital Front Door Offerings with Healthgrades 

A digital front door doesn’t only live on your site. A third-party site like Healthgrades can direct more patients through your health system’s digital front door by improving your hospital’s discoverability, linking directly to your scheduling portal, and more. As the premier platform for doctor discovery, our goal is to ensure patients find the right care at the right place at the right time—and our advertising solutions engage the largest audience searching for a healthcare professional online:

  • Increased visibility: Prominent branding and calls to action on healthgrades.com physician search results pages and profiles allow your brand and doctors to stand out.
  • Competitive intercept: We present your brand and medical staff as alternatives directly on your competitors’ profiles—bringing more appointment opportunities to your health system.
  • Expanded access: If prospective patients land on the sponsored profile of a doctor who is not accepting new patients, they are shown available alternatives from the same practice. This feature keeps consumers within your health system while resolving capacity issues—ultimately allowing patients to appoint.
  • Syndication network: Reach consumers where they are by extending your brand across the web with our partner sites’ look and feel to provide a seamless user experience.
  • Easy conversion: Integrate online appointment scheduling for in-person and telehealth services directly into your profiles to convert patients who are ready to appoint. 

We also complement your SEO and SEM strategies to maximize your relevance in search results and provide qualified leads. We’ll drive appointments for your hospital’s most profitable service lines—guaranteed.

Ready to see all of this in action? Get in touch with us today to explore how we can assist you in elevating your marketing approach to align with the latest healthcare consumerism trends.