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Posts Tagged ‘digital transformation’

What is a Digital Front Door?

Tuesday, July 19th, 2022

Patient engagement is a growing concern in today’s healthcare ecosystem. As many providers transitioned to telehealth during the pandemic, the concept of a “digital front door” evolved to describe how patients interact digitally with healthcare providers.

digital front door

Definition

The term “digital front door” describes an omnichannel engagement strategy that leverages technology to meet the needs of modern healthcare consumers.

With many people using online searches and digital tools to find new care providers, the term describes how patients first interact with a healthcare provider online. It represents how the patient journey is changing in response to consumer needs.

Just a few years ago, the design of a medical office was considered extremely important to the patient’s experience. Focusing on the digital front door refers to creating a positive digital experience for patients navigating a healthcare provider’s website, patient portals, and other online touchpoints.

Why utilize a digital front door?

There are many reasons to optimize the digital experience. Changing consumer preferences, healthcare staffing issues, and potential cost savings are just a few reasons healthcare practices are turning to digital solutions.

According to a study from Cedar, 41% of patients reported that they would consider changing providers for a better digital experience. Younger adults are four times more likely to switch than those over 65. Making it easy for people to schedule appointments, check symptoms, and refill prescriptions online can increase patient satisfaction and retention.

In addition, the ongoing healthcare staffing shortage is making it difficult for staff to spend time engaging with patients. Implementing digital engagement tools can empower patients to take control of their healthcare tasks and relieve operational burdens on staff members.

The prevalence of electronic health records means that patients can access, read, and add to their records through a well-designed patient portal. Using online intake forms, email messaging, and surveys can streamline processes and save time and money for healthcare practices.

The Benefits of Digital Front Doors

Some of the key benefits of properly designed and implemented digital front doors include:

  • Reduced patient wait times
  • Ability to interact with the healthcare system outside of regular business hours
  • Improved access and visibility into patient’s health records
  • Less paperwork and administrative waste
  • Reduced administrative costs
  • Focus on providing quality care compared to administrative tasks
  • Improved coordination and transparency between care teams
  • Improved feedback collection processes

What types of technology are involved?

No one specific technology is required to create an effective digital front door. Instead, different technologies are combined to create a positive user experience that matches the patient journey and meets the organization’s needs. Some of the technologies typically involved include:

  • Chatbots
  • Online appointment scheduling
  • Physician finder tools
  • Online intake forms
  • Personalized and automated email communications
  • Secure texting
  • Patient portals
  • Automated surveys

Of course, it’s not just about the technology involved but how it works together to meet the patient’s needs. Implementing tools that are difficult to use, don’t integrate, and are frustrating to patients will not deliver results.

An Example

Let’s use an example to illustrate how patients interact with a digital front door. Josh just moved to the area and is looking for a new primary care provider that accepts his insurance and is close to where he lives. He does a Google search and finds a provider with good reviews located only 0.5 miles away.

Josh goes to their website and uses a physician finder tool to search through the provider’s network of physicians to find one who accepts his insurance and is taking new patients.

Once Josh finds someone who is a good fit, he signs up to be a new patient and fills out a digital intake form. On the website’s back end, the provider automatically captures and stores these details in a secure, HIPAA-compliant database.

Josh then schedules an appointment online. He receives an automatic confirmation email, and a few days before the appointment, he also receives an email reminder.

On the day of his appointment, Josh can immediately see his physician because he has already filled out the intake forms online. The physician takes notes electronically during the appointment and refills Josh’s prescription. All this information is automatically added to his medical records. Before leaving the doctor’s office, a staff member helps Josh schedule a follow-up appointment for a few months later.

The same day, Josh receives a text message that his prescription has been filled and is ready for pickup at his local pharmacy. A week after the appointment, Josh receives an email asking about his experience and whether he has any follow-up questions for the physician. Thanks to the thoughtful use of technology, Josh was highly satisfied with his experience.

Conclusion

In today’s world, a solid online presence is not optional. Creating thoughtful online user experiences is essential to improving patient and provider interactions.

Accelerating Digital Health Transformation

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the digital transformation of the health care industry. Telehealth and virtual care delivery rapidly took off out of necessity, but this shift has been coming for a long time. Changing consumer preferences and new technologies are leading healthcare systems to pursue digital transformation.

digital health transformation

What is Digital Health Transformation?

According to HIMSS, “Digital health connects and empowers people and populations to manage health and wellness, augmented by accessible and supportive provider teams working within flexible, integrated, interoperable and digitally enabled care environments that strategically leverage digital tools, technologies and services to transform care delivery.”

Digital health transformation involves using a variety of technologies to improve the patient’s journey throughout the healthcare system. Transformation often starts with the implementation of electronic health records, but it doesn’t stop there. A survey of health care technology executives conducted by Deloitte, found that 92% wanted to achieve better consumer satisfaction and engagement from digital transformation.

Other goals that organizations seek to address with digital transformation include:

  • improving patient satisfaction and engagement
  • improving patient health outcomes
  • ability to compete with disrupters and alternatives
  • increasing revenue growth
  • improving cost efficiency
  • increasing agility and scalability
  • improving employee satisfaction

Why Pursue Digital Transformation in Healthcare?

Consumer preferences are driving changes to the healthcare industry. Today, consumers can order goods online with same-day delivery. There is transparency throughout the order, shipping, and delivery process. People are used to having instant access to consumer goods, and are starting to expect the same experience from their healthcare providers.

The healthcare system is notoriously slow and inefficient. Patients are used to waiting weeks or months for appointments and often have difficulty navigating the healthcare system. Provider referrals, prescription refills, and accessing medical records and lab results can be confusing. Digital transformation allows health care organizations to incorporate technology to meet patient expectations and improve their experiences.

Generational attitudes are also changing the healthcare industry. Younger populations are more likely to switch healthcare providers if their communication preferences are not met. A 2019 study found that patients aged 18 to 24 are three times as likely (61%) to consider switching providers over a poor digital experience compared to the over-65 population (21%).

In addition, the healthcare industry is also dealing with staffing shortages. Many organizations are looking for technology that can automate processes and alleviate administrative burdens, allowing providers to spend more time on patient care.

How to Digitally Transform the Healthcare System

It goes without saying that digital transformation is a long process that requires a clear strategy. After the pandemic-induced changes, many healthcare organizations are now stepping back to define their budget and strategy. A Deloitte survey found that 52% of organizations surveyed still had more than three years remaining on their implementation strategy. An additional 20% were still in the planning stage.

Introducing new technology without a clear purpose or strategy should be avoided. A poorly executed transition can lead to clinician burnout, a poor patient experience, and negative business outcomes.

The possibilities for digital health transformation are endless. For some organizations, transformation could include incorporating technologies like:

  • telehealth
  • AI and clinical decision making
  • Big data and predictive healthcare
  • Virtual reality
  • Wearable medical devices that feed data to a patient’s health record
  • Blockchain data custody

The technology options are endless, but it’s important to focus on organizational goals. For example, putting healthcare records on the blockchain sounds trendy and cool, but it is a major project that requires, planning, IT support, and funding. If the organization’s goal is to improve the patient experience, moving patient data from an EHR to the blockchain may not meet that goal. Instead, organizations should create a list of priorities and explore how different technologies help solve those problems. Perhaps enhancing patient portal messaging would improve the patient experience more than a move to the blockchain.

Conclusion

Many healthcare organizations are pursuing digital health transformation to better serve their patients. When implementing any new technology, it’s important to thoroughly vet options. Switching technology vendors can be even more difficult than implementing a new solution. Make sure that any third-party vendor can implement the solution without sacrificing security and compliance.