The Covid-19 pandemic caused a significant shift to our way of life – from Zoom meetings to online gaming, to ordering takeout – consumers are increasingly living in a digital world.
Digital self-service channels have also opened the door to healthcare – for patients to interact with healthcare providers and receive personalized service, and for providers to see improved quality and efficiency and an uptick in utilization. Long waiting times, limited appointment availability, paperwork, and unnecessary doctor’s office visits contribute to patients feeling powerless, confused, and dissatisfied with medical care. Often patients are not sure whether to turn to the emergency room, an urgent care center, or their local clinic. They may not even understand why certain procedures, evaluations, or tests have been performed, which only adds more confusion.
It is no wonder that making care accessible, seamless, and individualized and improving patient engagement have become top priorities for healthcare professionals. Additionally, hospitals are dealing with ever-decreasing margins, so health systems are looking to streamline processes as a means of lowering costs. As a result, healthcare organizations are turning to the strategy of providing patients with digital health solutions to improve patient access. Entering healthcare through the digital door allows providers to improve coordination, lower overhead costs, and offer access to high-quality care. It also allows patients to have a journey that feels empathetic and supportive while enhancing the healthcare provider-patient relationship.
What Is Healthcare’s Digital Front Door?
The digital front door is a strategy to empower patients and enable them to connect with the right care at the right time. From booking appointments and at-home virtual visits to mobile and web payments, automated reminders, and mobile check-in, a digital front door offers frictionless experience and convenience while delivering value to healthcare systems.
The potential of digital healthcare solutions is truly immense. They help build trust and loyalty by assisting patients with a host of different tasks such as:
- Accessing same-day appointments
- Reminders for screening tests or a vaccine due to be administered
- Calculating out-of-pocket costs
- Paying related bills
- Identifying and messaging healthcare providers
- Telehealth for both synchronous and asynchronous care
- Care record view
To maximize efficiency and provide consistent quality, a digital front door combines advanced capabilities around data analysis, UI/UX, conversational AI, and process and workflow streamlining. The digital front door is the brainchild of a multidisciplinary team of patient experience designers, clinical professionals, digital officers, product engineers, cloud experts, and system architects who all work together to ensure a holistic experience and continuous engagement.
By building on-demand, intuitive solutions, multidisciplinary teams provide users with tools that enable scheduling, match, and provider search. This approach to navigation and user engagement helps ensure more effective and streamlined coordination and enhanced service experience. A study in BMJ Open illustrates the relationship between increased telehealth use and improved customer satisfaction. To examine patients’ experiences with digital front door solutions, the research team focused on virtual contacts with physicians, prescription renewal, scheduling appointments, and e-consultations for inquiries. Scheduling doctor’s appointments was most commonly used by patients (66.4 percent), along with prescription renewal (54.3 percent). More than 90 percent of study participants found electronic scheduling of appointments more efficient and easier than by phone. 46 percent of respondents also shared that online prescription renewal was more convenient.
A successful and efficient digital front door strategy is also simple to use and consumer-centric and can include a variety of touchpoints such as staff-facing mobile and fixed solutions, self-service kiosks, mobile apps, online patient portals, etc. A digital front door also supports different modes of interaction, be it by phone, video, interview, or chat.
Benefits of the Digital Front Door Strategy
For healthcare systems, automation allows for enhanced charting, better patient management, seamless integration with electronic health records, administrative burden reduction, and improved intake. Repetitive processes that benefit from automation include co-payments, waiting room instructions, insurance, and ID verification, and intake. Automation helps improve the overall utilization of resources, quality of care, and user experience while facilitating interaction and engagement. With easy access to condition-appropriate care, patients are increasingly opting for telehealth consultations over traditional doctor’s visits. A study by Mckinsey reveals that 76 percent of participants that used telehealth due to Covid-19 are moderately or highly likely to do so in the future. Of them, 74 percent also reported high satisfaction with the quality of care.
Benefits for healthcare systems include:
- Convenient care
- Improved clinical efficiency
- Reduced staff burnout
- Reduced operating costs
- Improved employee performance and productivity
- Higher physician referral volumes
- Fewer appointment no-shows
- Reduced handle time
- Improved first call resolution
- Better appointment slot utilization
Entering their care journey through the digital front door also benefits patients as they enjoy a more connected experience. They not only interact and communicate with healthcare providers with ease but are sure to receive the right level of care, assistance, and advice.
Patients also enjoy a better sense of autonomy in managing their care based on personalized and relevant information. This enables them to take a more active role throughout their treatment journey. By encouraging patients to manage their health, providers help facilitate the shift to preventive healthcare. Digital self-service and self-care also increase customer satisfaction while at the same time result in reduced costs for billing, scheduling, and messaging.
For patients and healthcare systems, digital front door technology offers seamless experience, efficiency, and frictionless service, resulting in improved retention, acquisition, engagement, and conversion.
If the global crisis has taught us a lesson, it is that innovation has a key role to play. Now patients expect an exceptional level of care and a more empathetic healthcare journey. It is essential that all communication between provider, device, and patient is seamless to cater to individual needs, improve satisfaction, and build trust.