For far too long, patients have struggled navigating the complexities of the healthcare industry. The complexity arises from the fact that care is delivered through an ecosystem of actors such as primary care providers, specialists, pharmacists, labs, and insurance providers, all of whom operate independently from one another, creating a web of obstacles to overcome in providing care. Rising consumerism, coupled with the entry of tech and retail players, has created a tipping point. Companies can no longer delay evolving to address these obstacles. A starting point could be the Digital Front Door.
A Digital Front Door is a means to provide healthcare consumers with a single entry point and orchestration spanning multiple healthcare players and systems at every touchpoint along the care journey. It is a unified portal with a complementary mobile app in which patients can do everything from booking appointments to viewing claims, viewing and downloading complete health records, reordering prescriptions, checking on pharmacy and ER wait times, and seeing lab results.
However, while the benefits to the consumer are obvious, the Digital Front Door provides advantages to payers and providers as well. By implementing digital health services, providers are able to improve access to care for patients who are unable to travel, better integrate care, provide superior experience, and reduce overhead. All of this translates to clinicians being able to provide a higher level of care for their patients — retaining existing patients and attracting newer ones.
To implement a Digital Front Door, there are a few key points for organizations to consider.
Patients rarely see the multitude of fragmented and siloed systems behind the scenes that slow down the process of providing care. Organizations need to leverage technologies that help share data more effectively, create transparency to streamline the process of sharing information, and expedite the flow of data from one organization to another. Once the information is surfaced, benefits such as patients availing of single-point access and experiencing a seamless journey across the healthcare system can be realized. Currently, healthcare organizations use a gamut of systems from electronic health records (EHRs), mobile apps, portals, billing, scheduling, and so on. These systems span generations of different software and computing powers with inherent flaws. Any digital transformation undertaken needs to be tailored to augment the existing systems to increase interoperability.
By some estimates, healthcare data already makes up nearly 30% of the global data volume and is only getting larger. As new analytics are able to make better use of unstructured data such as physicians’ notes and call transcripts, it is vital to harness technologies such as machine learning (ML), artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT) and automation, to nudge consumer behavior, make appropriate decisions related to their health needs, and take better care of their health. Additionally, data generated by patient use of the digital front door can be analyzed to assess the services offered, options to avail of these services, and create a real-time feedback loop for continuous improvement.
To harness the benefits of a Digital Front Door, organizations need to keep their primary focus on the customer journey. None of what the Digital Front Door can provide will matter if the customer interface is clunky or overly complex. Customers are more likely to switch services if they encounter problems with the interface. In 2020, approximately 28% of patients changed providers due to a bad digital health experience, a 40% increase from the year before. The more organizations can look at the entire customer journey the better, from ease of online accessibility to touchless patient intake and registration. An omnichannel approach, where digital and in-person touch points share similar characteristics and levels of convenience, needs to be adopted.
Not If, Not When — How
As the digital transformation of the healthcare sector moves forward, providers and payers alike need to adopt a Digital Front Door for their clients to streamline operations and improve patient care. The fragmentation of systems and organizations inside the industry has raised costs, annoyed customers, and hamstrung clinicians. The key to any sustainable business is customer satisfaction and innovating the customer journey is what it will take to stay alive in a rapidly changing healthcare environment. The question is no longer if or when to implement a Digital Front Door, but how.