Digital front door

Table of Contents

How to Build a Digital Front Door Strategy to Transform Your Healthcare

Peiru Teo

Peiru Teo

COVID-19 has affected the entire world to such an extent that the implications are not confined to any particular industry. Healthcare organizations have to face many challenges in delivering quality services to the patients in such a crisis. 

Even in the midst of the chaos, COVID-19 can be a catalyst for a safer, more efficient, and patient-centric experience. Clinical office visits have decreased by nearly 60% since COVID-19 initial appearance. 

Patients are becoming savvy consumers and, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, are demanding a consumer-centric approach to healthcare. 

Digital care is becoming an integral part even post-pandemic. A standardized approach is required to ensure that individuals are always given the best possible care. These factors have culminated in the full-speed adoption of the digital front door strategy.

What Is The Digital Front Door Strategy?

The digital front door is an omnichannel engagement strategy that intends to enhance the patient experience, but it generally boils down to this – an integrated approach that offers patients a meaningful and connected experience at every step along their journey.  

A well-executed digital front door strategy benefits both parties, patients and practitioners, by making every care point easy for patients to access and simple for practices to manage. Apart from delivering a seamless patient experience, the digital front door strategy helps health systems tap into automation, and data analytics, translating into practice efficiency. 

digital front door strategy
Omnichannel Communication: Optimizing digital interactions across all channels, and optimal use of data to deliver more personalized patient experiences. FBy receiving consistent, timely communication, patients are more likely to address their care needs.

Patient Experience: HealthCare organizations and hospitals adopt digital tools to deliver quality care and create a personalized experience for patients. Based on data collection tools, AI and machine learning, the technology provides a deep insight into patient’s need,s and behavior. Digital tools also help in the collection of post visit outcomes and experiences, which are vital metrics in healthcare. 

Patient Self Service: Digital technology enhances accessibility of patients across different external systems, such as connecting to laboratories, pharmacies, and radiology for managing appointments, or ordering prescription medications. 

Virtual Appointments: Through the mobile apps and healthcare portals patient can easily schedule their appointments.  Interestingly, a recent study showed that 40-60% of patients have interest in gaining virtual healthcare solutions including digital front door. 

Appointment Reminders, Pre-Appointment Checks: Providers can start with appointment reminders and conduct verifications whether the patient is medically eligible to attend the session. These also provide avenues to connect more capabilities to build their own virtual patient journeys, to significantly reduce the no-shows.  

Patient Care Triage: With the help of digital machine learning, and AI analytics patient care is prioritized. Depending on the severity of medical conditions the consultations, and digital health appointments is scheduled. 

Why Do You Need Digital Front Door Strategy?

With changing times, patients expect the same seamless, streamlined, user-friendly, personalized experiences in healthcare as they do in other areas of their lives, such as e-commerce.

Consumers used to compare their healthcare experiences to those of other healthcare providers, but now they compare healthcare to that of other consumers. 

Improved patient experience

Patients want fast and convinient access to care, whenever they need.   With an omnichanel approach, the intelligence built into these “digital front doors” also ensure shorter waiting times, increased staff efficiency and better decision making that will lead to
  • Improved patient outcomes and loyalty
  • Continuously engage patients without draining care team resource 
  • Use patient-generated data to deliver better care

Centralized hub for omni-channel interactions

Healthcare organizations do not need to integrate and manage separate siloed tools for their patient communication across website, mobile/SMS or messaging apps. Having a unified omnichannel healthcare communication platform helps to modernize their ‘digital front door’ , improve clinical care and deliver a 360 degree conversational patient engagement. 

Streamlined patient care journeys

Being 24/7 available is arguably the most crucial component of the healthcare journey a provider can provide their patients. Every patient’s journey is unique, personalized and their questions can vary greatly. Deploying a virtual assistant aka chatbots as an extension of many departments for answering questions, appointment scheduling or outpatient treatment services provides the opportunity for staff to clearly direct patients with the best course of action based on their current needs. 

Efficient use of precious healthcare resources

With a digital front door, practices can replace manual processes and ensure better coordination between care teams. This means everyone has access to the right data at the right time. By making the transition from the front office to the encounter room smooth and consistent, practices can ensure the same level of engagement throughout the care journey

How to Build Digital Front Door Strategy to Transform Your Healthcare

Digital platform structure depends on certain critical elements. An interplay of various components, outcomes, and how these solutions will enhance patient engagement is discussed below

1. Create an intelligent & frictionless omnichannel engagement

Healthcare organization can leverage every interaction as part of patient care journey transform their services and experiences to deliver a truly omnichannel healthcare experience (HX) that unifies care across both in-person and digital touchpoints.

Understand the patient needs

Patients expect to interact with the right caregivers who can assist them in their medical treatment journeys by improving their collaboration. 

A holistic approach is required to overcome the existing shortcomings and inadequacies of delivering partial healthcare outcomes. 

Create an omnichannel engagement approach.

Omnichannel engagement need to create individual preferences for patient to enhance their healthcare experience. Patient engagement strategy needs to map the key structures such as:

  • Preferred channel for communication
  • Patients’ greatest area for dissatisfaction with the current hospital services
  • Preferred settings for care (hospital based/home settings)
  • Inclination towards at-home, digital care and other care methods 

A Digital front door elevates, rather than removes, human interaction, supporting a healthcare experience that can easily move between in-person and digital touchpoints.

2. Automate parts of the patient journey with artificial intelligence (AI)

Sophisticated AI can ensure that healthcare systems forecast efficiencies, which benefits regulatory compliance, resolving billing issues, and managing patient care, among other issues.

Automation ensures precision and accuracy

With AI-powered patient engagement solutions for managing large sets of patient data, clinics, hospitals, and other providers can monitor and reconcile record keeping to remain compliant with provisions such as HIPAA, the GDPR, and other regulations that govern the services they provide 

Streamline clinical diagnostic and treatment operations

Real-time, data driven information will help the clinicians to alter and implement clinical decision making based on their personal expertise. 

AI-based smart workforce management

AI analytics help to provide reminders and real-time progress tracker, thereby clinical and operational tasks can be prioritized by the hospital staff.

3. Measure your patient satisfaction

Digital transformation in healthcare industry is only possible is we can evaluate the quality of care provided to the patients. Hospitals and clinics strive to measure patient satisfaction as a way to assess their performance and how they can continue . 

Measuring patient satisfaction equips you to spend your process improvement resources where it matters most. Not just that, medical practices with high patient satisfaction attract more patients and therefore, more revenue. 

Patient satisfaction survey highlights the current quality of clinical practice and what can be done better. A survey should consider three important components while designing the questionnaires: clarity, consistency, and precision. 

Survey questions should focus on certain important areas such as 

  • Quality issues (Whether the patient is satisfied with the medical care and services) 
  • Interpersonal issues (Whether the clinicians’ and staff are compassionate and caring) 
  • Access issues (Whether the appointments are easily scheduled) 

Although, the healthcare organization cannot take action on each and every suggestion that the patient gives you, but the critical areas which are causing dissatisfaction should be identified.

4) Integrate existing platforms and tools (such as EHRs and HITs)

Developing the solution with the right technology or enabling a pure technology-based solution for enabling the consumers’ journey is the next step in the strategic implementation. Digital channels should approach integration of various ecosystems. For example, different healthcare services collaboration will make it easier for the patients to access their preferred channels in an effective way. 

Improve system standards

Recent digital systems ensure to include more real-time information so that relevant health information can be timely shared with the providers. 

Application Programming Interface (APIs) allows digital platforms to aggregate data across different providers, enabling creation of a unified digital health ecosystem. The transformation should be robust, safe, and designed to improve patient’s healthcare journeys. 

Achieve Functional Integration

Health systems and vendors should enable their present systems for integration. EHR systems should configure the existing data in order to include any additional information which is accessible to any EHR user. Additionally, it has to be scalable, as well as follow proper guidelines (HIPAA compliance)t). 

 A unified digital system will create a consistent, and simple digital experience and branding. In the digital age, consumers expect the same experience regardless of which touchpoint they use, and anything less can be off-putting.

5) Enhance your virtual care platform with technology

Digital platform makes it convenient for the providers and patients to access healthcare services. 

Consumers clearly desire an online option that is simple, intuitive, and seamless. For example, patients can simply check in online when they plan for a medical visit, instead of waiting in queue for a receptionist. They can use the website to make payments, schedule and reschedule appointments, and participate in surveys. 

 As patients take greater ownership of their care, virtual solutions that support the transition from hospital-based to home-based care, such as remote patient monitoring, AI-powered alerting systems, or conversational interfaces, are becoming more popular. 

6) Provide self-service options for patient care

Given the high volumes of requests for information and routing of care, health systems/providers are increasingly looking to technology vendors to help them manage the care navigation experience.  

While self-service is critical, the path to achieving it and what it should look like for your organization are not always easy to uncover. But the theme is clear: patient engagement trends are about providing on demand value based care, when and where patients need it

Moving Forward with Your Omnichannel Digital Front Door Strategy

The digital front door is a crucial aspect of a digital-first patient experience. It is an omnichannel digital first approach to engage patients at every step of their healthcare journey and infuse the entire experience with empathy and holistic care. Digital front door opens up promising new realities so when a patient walks through the door, they are already part of a meaningful service experience that is focused on offering them the best experience. And that is a future worth innovating.

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