From adopting new norms to pivoting to new technologies, we witnessed how COVID-19 affected multiple industries of the world. One such industry that faced the brunt of this crisis was healthcare, whereby many healthcare organizations had difficulties delivering large-scale quality patient experience.
What’s ironic is that the pandemic is actually a blessing in disguise since it became a catalyst for a safer, more efficient, and patient-centric experience. Modern-day patients are tech-savvy consumers who are demanding digital-first healthcare services and experiences.
So, how would you digitally transform your healthcare service to give the best possible patient care that’s also profitable for your organization?
Enter Digital Front Door.
In today’s post, let’s explore all there is to know about the digital front door—from identifying its critical components to rolling it out to transform your healthcare to the next level.
What Is The Digital Front Door Strategy?
The digital front door is an omnichannel engagement strategy that offers patients a connected experience at every major touchpoint of their healthcare journey. A robust digital front door strategy integrates various technologies that patients are already using in their daily lives.
This makes every care point easy for patients to access and simple for practitioners to manage, which translates into seamless healthcare services and patient experiences (PX). The digital front door strategy also helps healthcare practitioners tap into automation and data analytics to strengthen practice efficiency.
Components of a Digital Front Door
When you deploy a digital front door, you basically deploy a centralized hub through which all healthcare interactions can occur (e.g., symptom assessment, virtual booking, conversational artificial intelligence (AI), and many more).
The following are the critical components that make up a digital front door.
At the heart of the digital front door lies omnichannel communication. It is a centralized hub through which all healthcare-related engagement and patient journey happen. Gone are the days where you needed to manage siloed tools for patient communication across websites, mobile apps, SMS, emails, etc. A unified omnichannel communication platform empowers you to deliver a 360° patient care.
Digital Symptom Checkers
Also known as conversational AI or virtual assistants, patients leverage these tools to self-triage themselves. This way, patients can determine if they must visit the emergency department or can just manage the symptoms at home. Not only that, AI-powered virtual assistants also serve as an extension of many departments for answering questions and directing patients with the best course of action according to clinical best practices.
Patient Care Triage
On the other hand, patient care can also be assessed and prioritized with the help of machine learning and data analytics. The consultations and digital health appointments are scheduled depending on the severity of medical conditions.
Online Provider Search
An online provider search enables patients to find healthcare professionals who can fulfill their current needs. In certain cases, patients can even check out multidisciplinary providers across different external systems, such as connecting to laboratories, pharmacies, and radiology for managing appointments, or ordering prescription medications.
Virtual Appointment Schedulers
Once they have identified their healthcare needs, patients can easily schedule virtual appointments through mobile apps and healthcare portals. In big healthcare institutions, it makes sense to centralize the virtual and call center scheduling systems for a more streamlined process.
Following virtual appointments, healthcare providers like yourself can utilize appointment reminders. Conduct verifications to see whether patients are medically eligible to attend the sessions. You can even connect more capabilities to build niche virtual patient journey to significantly reduce the no-shows.
Virtual Waiting Rooms
Virtual waiting rooms allow clinics to have patients check in and wait in their cars or other outdoor spaces to keep the physical waiting rooms less crowded. Patients only need to inform you that they have arrived and wait for further instructions. A simple text message–which is part of the omnichannel engagement hub–will alert the patient to walk in once it is their time to be examined.
Patient Intake Technologies
With virtual patient technologies, patients can fill out their preliminary health information even before they attend the session instead of doing it at the waiting room. This shortens patients’ wait time, accelerates timeliness of care, and improves prognosis. Healthcare providers can also focus on understanding patients’ healthcare needs and creating better treatment plans.
Telehealth services like video chats come in handy in cases where patients are living further away from the clinics. Not only are you making healthcare more accessible, but you will also play an active role in achieving health equity.
Price transparency and digital billing will help patients to book the quality clinical services that they need and then make the payments efficiently with a peace of mind.
At the end of the day, a seamless digital front door strategy aims to deliver personalized, quality healthcare services to boost PX. By making use of patient-generated data and machine learning, you can get critical insights into your patients’ needs and improve your healthcare experience (HX) metrics.
A Real-Life Scenario of a Digital Front Door
Are you curious how the components above perform in the real world? Let’s see the digital front door in action.
Say hello to Patient X.
He’s a 62 year old man living with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus and has been seeing his primary care provider for a few years to monitor his health. Following Covid-19 and the cascading pivot to digital health, Patient X decided to “go digital” with his healthcare experience too.
Patient X decided to do more research online about a new chain of clinics–Digital First Clinic–that is powered with a digital front door. Positive online reviews from past patients only cemented Patient X’s decision to switch his primary care provider to this new clinic.
From the clinic’s website, Patient X was able to filter through the network of specialists, available healthcare services, location, and availability. After choosing the nearest branch with an endocrinologist, he signed up as a new patient and filled out a virtual intake form. In the backend system of Digital First Clinic, Patient X’s protected Health Information (PHI) was saved in a PDPA-compliant database.
Patient X then self-scheduled an appointment with the specialist doctor through the clinic’s virtual appointment scheduler and received a confirmation email. A few days before the appointment, he received a reminder email too.
On the day of appointment, Patient X skipped the physical waiting room and had a quality check up and consultation session with his endocrinologist who recorded all information electronically. At the end of the session, the doctor upgraded Patient X’s medication. All this information was automatically added to his electronic health record (EHR). Before leaving the clinic, he collected the medication from the pharmacy and the help desk staff scheduled a follow-up appointment.
After going back home, Patient X logged into the clinic’s patient portal to review the medical record and pay the bill. He also received an email a week later asking about his experience at Digital First Clinic and if he has any urgent questions or feedback.
Why Do You Need Digital Front Door Strategy?
Benefits of a Digital Front Door to Patients
- Gives access to round-the-clock and 360° clinical care
- Has the flexibility to engage with the providers using the channel they are most comfortable with
- Removes manual paperwork which saves patients time and effort
- Results in shorter waiting time for treatment leading to improved prognosis
- Increases treatment plan accessibility and adherence
- Makes quality healthcare accessible to patients from various backgrounds
- Empowers patients to take charge of their health
Benefits of a Digital Front Door to Healthcare Providers
- Creates a secure centralized hub for efficient omnichannel communication
- Streamlines end-to-end patient journey with 24/7 high-quality services
- Uses precious healthcare resources for mission-critical activities only
- Leverages patient-generated data to continuously deliver better care
- Improves PX, retention, and revenue
- Replaces manual process with smart automation
- Reduces healthcare cost-to-serve
- Reduces gaps in health equity
- Designs cohesive patient messaging throughout various touchpoints
6-Steps to Building a Digital Front Door to Transform Your Healthcare
1. Create an omnichannel engagement strategy
As said earlier, an omnichannel engagement strategy is the core of a digital front door. The strategy must unify both in-person and digital touchpoints while addressing individual preferences for a truly omnichannel HX. So, your strategy must map the following key structures:
- Patients’ healthcare needs
- Patients’ preferred channel for communication
- Patients’ greatest area for dissatisfaction with the current hospital services
- Patients’ preferred settings for care (hospital or home based)
A holistic approach is required to overcome the existing shortcomings and introduce frictionless healthcare services.
2. Automate parts of the patient journey with artificial intelligence (AI)
There are many manual healthcare processes within the patient journey that must be automated with AI. A sophisticated AI can automate and power up healthcare systems through the following:
- Ensures regulatory compliance (e.g., PDPA, HIPAA, GDPR) with precise and accurate data management
- Streamlines clinical diagnostic and treatment options
- Provides reminders and real-time progress tracker which allows hospital staff to prioritize clinical and operational tasks
Healthcare institutions can then focus on delivering quality clinical care that patients enjoy.
3. Measure your patient satisfaction
Successfully rolling out a digital front door hinges on you continuously measuring the quality of healthcare and patient satisfaction before implementing corrective actions. Medical practices with better patient satisfaction attracts more patients and more revenue—sometimes 50% higher. So, your patient satisfaction survey must uncover the current quality of clinical practice and what to improve. Some focus areas include:
- 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 you may not act on each suggestion that the patients give you, the critical areas which are causing dissatisfaction should be identified.
4) Integrate existing platforms and tools (such as EHRs and HITs)
The next step is to integrate the existing platforms such as EHR and health information technology (HIT) together. Aggregating data from these platforms can then be done with Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). As a result, multidisciplinary healthcare professionals and patients can have access to more real-time information through a unified digital health ecosystem.
5) Enhance your virtual care platform with technology
Virtual care platforms make it convenient for patients and providers to access healthcare services. Patients desire an online option that is 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.
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 or conversational interfaces are becoming more popular. So, incorporate these technologies in your digital front door.
6) Provide self-service options for patient care
With self-service kiosks, you can improve the first point of contact with patients across the unified digital health ecosystem. Patients no longer have to repeat themselves to an operator or press a key to return to the main menu. You can instead collect their data at the first point of contact and customize the experience.
Transform Your Healthcare Experience with Digital Front Door
The digital front door is a crucial aspect of a digital-first PX. It is an omnichannel digital approach to engage patients at every step of their healthcare journey and infuse the entire experience with empathy and holistic care.
The digital front door opens up promising new realities so when a patient walks through the door, they are already part of a meaningful service that is focused on offering them the best experience.
And that is a future worth innovating.