Patients aren’t just patients anymore, they are consumers, meaning they are perfectly willing to change providers and health plans if their expectations aren’t met. At the same time, providers and payers are facing a shortage of skilled technical workers, making it even more difficult to resolve lingering issues around data silos, patient engagement and more. Add in an uncertain global economy, intensifying competition and an ongoing pandemic, and it’s clearly time to make the Digital Front Door as effective as it possibly can be.
Here’s how to set your organization up for Digital Front Door success.
Understand What Patients *Really* Want
Today healthcare consumers have very high expectations of their interactions with a provider and this plays directly into a Digital Front Door’s success. Digital-savvy consumers know what personalized communication looks and feels like. Thanks to shopping on Amazon and browsing through Hulu, Peloton and other consumer websites, they’re unlikely to settle for less.
In fact, the Redpoint 2022 Healthcare Perspectives on Consumer Engagement Survey found 65 percent of patients want any communication to be relevant to their needs and 91 percent said personalization was very or somewhat important to them. One-third want all their communications with a provider (in person, on the phone or online) to be exactly the same in terms of relevance, consistency and outcomes.
What happens if your Digital Front Door can’t pull this together? Over 40 percent told us they’d switch providers because engagement is poor, and 38 percent would leave due to lack of personalization or patient understanding.
Unlock the Digital Front Door
An omnichannel Digital Front Door is more than a patient portal; including data from all digital and offline sources, it should offer a real-time view into a patient’s activities, appointments, medications, condition, etc., for a single patient view across an omnichannel journey.
A Digital Front Door is a comprehensive effort that stretches well past a patient portal to include actionable data, insights, and a well-choreographed omnichannel experience.
Yet siloed data, fragmented engagement systems and privacy concerns make getting to that point easier said than done. While phone calls are still the primary way patients communicate with providers, our survey found close to 80 percent of patients have used a web portal for communication. That said, gaps remain on the provider side due to a lack of comprehensive data and analytics around the consumer and their digital behaviors. This single customer view, which needs to be activated in real time, is very difficult to achieve, but critical for achieving a superior customer experience.
Most providers do offer some type of Digital Front Door today, but struggle to consolidate data and communicate with one voice across the platforms. Many could certainly do better informing and educating patients about what services, providers, and channels are available and guide them to the next best step on their care journey.
So while a fully-functioning and entirely cohesive Digital Front Door is the goal, the provider team’s first step must be to take a fresh look at what services are being offered, which make sense to automate and offer through a Digital Front Door, and finally to consider how best to let patients know what is available. As patient satisfaction improves through self-service, the organization will reap the benefits including:
- Improved data quality
- Real-time care path optimization
- Reduced burden on healthcare professionals
- Bridging care and equity gaps
- Better patient and member retention
Start With Data
Data has to be the core of the Digital Front Door, but it’s also the most difficult to gather, merge and optimize for success. A single patient could have data in dozens of places, and often the data is fragmented and incomplete.
A Digital Front Door strategy must include a unified customer profile that can be updated in real time so the provider team can confidently and accurately identify and communicate with a patient. While gathering all the health-related data in a single spot is critical, it’s also important to ensure non-healthcare data is included and is as robust as possible. Does the patient have transportation? Is there access to nutritious foods? What is the language preference? Is the patient open to a telehealth experience? How would the patient prefer to be contacted – text, email, phone?
There is no question that casting the data net this broadly will be a significant mindset shift for many teams used to viewing medical encounters as discrete events. But the benefits of bringing everything together in a single place significantly enhances patient experience and becomes quickly apparent, especially when dealing with medically or socioeconomically complicated cases.
Connect the Pieces
Once every ounce of patient data has been collected, it’s time to make it actionable. This step requires the same open mindset as with data gathering: how can a team personalize the Digital Front Door experience?
Being able to process and analyze the data to identify the next best action allows the patient to have a thoughtful, coordinated and easy experience whether it’s booking an appointment, paying a bill or trying to arrange for in-home care. Every interaction, virtual or in person, should offer the same access to information, services, records, and more (remember, patients are likely comparing a digital front door to shopping on Amazon). This allows for a true omni-channel experience, rather than a disconnected multi-channel experience. Having relevant and consistent patient communication increases engagement and ultimately improves health outcomes.
Orchestrate the Journey
With the data and the connections in place, patients coming to the Digital Front Door can have a personalized experience, which research shows is critical to patient satisfaction. A 2022 survey from CVS Health found 83 percent of consumers believe having all their healthcare providers interconnected is vital to their health, and 71 percent said it was “somewhat” or “very” important to have personalized reminders and alerts about their healthcare.
Also, a Digital Front Door should be more than personalized: it can be guided by the provider or payer team so a patient is getting access to relevant information, next steps, care options and more. For example, a pre-diabetic patient can be offered articles on diet and prevention or be given the option to enroll in an exercise program. A solidly constructed Digital Front Door will also allow providers to reach out to patients proactively with news about new treatment plans or a walk-in clinic with a short wait time. The bottom line: a successful Digital Front Door strategy will lead a patient along a frictionless and customized care path.
A Digital Front Door is an opportunity to guide patients on a path that is mutually beneficial: health outcomes and engagement will improve while the burden on providers will be greatly reduced. Providers successful in creating a unified patient record and embracing an omnichannel communication process will be well placed to leverage their Digital Front Doors and also be better prepared to accommodate future change.