The Patient Search Experience is Broken. But there’s a fix.

People are conditioned to rely on search  — yes, the search bar — as the  primary gateway to solve questions and get to where they are going. And people have become spoiled by intuitive, easy-to-use, search technology. Today, almost every major website – from Best Buy and Walmart, to Zillow and Expedia – includes a prominent universal-search interface to capture user intent and return the right product, feature, or article.

Search gets users to where they’re going.

The universality and expectations for search is a product of the standards set by Google. A simple web page, with a single search bar, that retrieves the most relevant, accurate response based on a user’s query. Consumers are conditioned for search to include a number of ease-of-use and practical features, such as:

  • A single place to find results;
  • the ability to use conversational/natural language;
  • location-based results;
  • the ability to use abundant filters to narrow down results; and
  • a strong error tolerance.

Healthcare faces an experience deficit, as search is often rigid, and hardly delivers against patient’ expectations.

This challenge begins with the nature of healthcare, and its highly complex environment, coupled with a modus operandi of “never get it wrong, but hardly get it right.” In the practice of delivering care and medicine, never getting things wrong should always be the goal. But on the business side, this philosophy can result in a strict approach to meeting the changing needs and expectations of customers.

Modern search for healthcare

Often, search is limited to finding providers or locations — both critical functions. But what about someone looking for same-day appointments, doctors that speak Spanish, the nearest location, or information about a condition? Bridging the gap between intent and results requires a multi-step process — using different search interfaces — that relies on filters, and delivers an arduous process.

Let’s not forget, extra step of the user journey has a negative affect on conversions and leads to site abandonment. Customers expect a frictionless experience, and search should be a powerful tool to optimize the digital front door.

A new approach to healthcare search

Search can now be a gateway to field a customer’ needs. Instead of separate funnels — like Find a Doctor and locations — a single search bar, from any page, can surface the right line of care, the right results, all based on customer intent.

OmniSearch uses built-in logic to determine intent and route care, from a provider and location, to telehealth or the next-available appointment at the nearest clinic. With OmniSearch, when someone searches for a doctor, they find doctor profiles. A medical condition can surface doctors that specialize in that condition and related articles. Customers looking for same-day care, see nearby clinics with available timeslots.

OmniSearch delivers a modern digital experience — with a hint of retail best-practices — and gives health systems the ability to streamline the process of converting inbound demand.

Healthcare search may not be completely broken, but a hard-to-find and difficult to navigate experience is an anchor to delivering a frictionless digital front door.

A fresh take on search is here, and it couldn’t come at a better time, as retail and healthcare blend, and the expectations of how and where care is offered is changing rapidly.