Healthcare leaders have seen an incredible increase in telehealth adoption over the past year alongside the continued growth of patient expectations for self-service, access, and convenience. Fortunately, healthcare IT continues to offer healthcare leaders new and expanded tools to deliver on these expectations so telehealth isn’t just offered but leveraged alongside traditional in-person care delivery for a patient experience that truly accommodates patients.
Healthcare continues to refine the definition of a digital front door in an effort to better understand how it can serve patients and play a key role in delivering organizational objectives. At its most basic level, the digital front door is a strategy that accounts for many patient access points and leverages digital strategies to allow patients to interact with healthcare beyond typical business hours, via mobile devices, and with as few steps as possible. For healthcare organizations, implementing an effective digital front door can mean better patient outcomes, lower costs, higher revenue, and more. Here are five ways a digital front door can deliver for patients and providers alike.
Top 5 Benefits of a Digital Front Door
1. Increased Visibility and Access for New Patients
Having digital resources readily available expands your health system’s accessibility to new patients and increases your digital footprint. Patients go to the web first to discover their options and will consider an online review with the same credit they would give a personal reference. Your digital front door is a strategy to ensure that when patients go looking for new healthcare providers, they’ll find you.
2. Optimized Patient Access Points
Despite the roadblocks to patient access created by the pandemic, patient expectations for the digital front door continue to grow. There is an expectation and a need to bridge the gap between a patient and their healthcare, allowing them to easily schedule and change appointments, receive answers to their medical questions, and fill out forms without the bottleneck of playing phone tag with medical offices or having to physically fill out forms in person. Software solutions like patient self-scheduling, automated waitlists, automated health campaigns, and digital patient registration intake help open this door and deliver a better patient experience.
3. An Easier Navigation Process
Navigating the healthcare experience can be an intimidating, overwhelming process. Simplifying and automating the user experience allows for patients to have better information and access to help when they need it most. This process can be optimized by utilizing tactics like the ability to send links to maps, driving and parking directions, and even fielding simple questions with text conversations.
4. Increased Patient Retention
Patients have more options than ever before and it’s easier than ever for patients to change their providers. Healthcare organizations that deliver a seamless experience from booking to the appointment and make it incredibly easy for patients to communicate with them will win out over those who are slow to adopt. While telehealth is a component of this digital front door strategy, there are other pieces to consider as well. Cohesive strategies that elevate both in-person and telehealth appointments and make it easy for patients to select the options that work for them will go further in creating a system that meets patients’ needs and expectations and encourages patients to always start with their established providers before looking to retail clinics and urgent care locations.
5. Re-engage Patients Who Delayed Care
Though healthcare practices are open and patients are ready to engage with healthcare providers again, there’s a lot of catch-up work to be done. Patients put off a lot of care over the past year, some of their own choosing out of fear or anxiety during COVID-19, while others found it more difficult to access care when they needed it. This is particularly concerning for patients who are at high risk of developing chronic conditions like heart disease or diabetes as well as cancer. Helping patients get back on track with their preventive and follow-up care is key to driving good patient outcomes and maintaining key quality scores and recognitions. Automated tools, like health campaigns and group messaging, can make this process intelligent, reliable, and consistent. Connecting tools like this to a self-scheduling link further simplifies the process and makes it incredibly efficient to re-engage patients without monopolizing your staff.
Michele Perry is the CEO of Relatient, a SaaS-based patient-centered engagement company that utilizes a modern and mobile-first approach to improve patient and provider communication. Michele Perry has 30 years of experience in software and health technology, an undergraduate degree from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s of Business Administration from Harvard Business School.