The Impact of the Digital Front Door Leave a comment

Too often in talking about digital transformation, we only look to the future. Merely speculating as to how it will impact the world of healthcare once x gets developed. Too little do we take a look at the work that has already been done in this field to examine the impact it has already had. So that is what we will be doing today.

We reached out to the Healthcare IT Community to hear their thoughts on the digital front door and how it has already transformed healthcare. This is what they had to say.

Patty Riskind, CEO at Orbita

Digital tools gained traction in care delivery during COVID. Now we are seeing rapid uptake in operational workflows that support care too. That said, most solutions, like digital front doors, fall short. Next-generation DFD must combine the value of consumer search tools with the convenience of chatbots. Using natural language understanding and intentional conversational dialogs, intelligent virtual assistants will guide website visitors to the answers and care they’re looking for. Websites become more intuitive, so patients find them useful, resulting in higher conversions.

Colin Banas, Chief Medical Officer at DrFirst

To transform the patient experience, the digital front door needs to move far beyond what typical patient portals currently offer. Simply replicating the old paradigm in a digital format isn’t enough, it is time to push past that. It will take tools that make it easier for patients to play a central role in their own care. For example, new tech so patients can document and report their outcomes directly to providers, curate their physiological data and connect it with emerging AI to detect signals of disease that are just now emerging, and participate in clinical trials with their smartphones and personal devices. The front door is just the beginning, pun intended.

Dr. Keith Dressler, CEO and Chairman at Rhinogram

The digital front door has helped providers meet patients’ demands for more modernized, convenient healthcare experiences. These digital tools have also assisted in mitigating challenges providers face, such as the great staffing shortage and burnout, by replacing in-person clinical and administrative tasks with virtual care sessions and virtual digital administrative intake of forms, insurance information, and payments.

Aaron Lewis, Executive Vice President, Growth and Integrated Solutions at Lifepoint Health

The digital front door has fundamentally transformed healthcare and will continue to shift how patients receive care into the foreseeable future. Care is now more accessible; patients and providers can easily communicate with one another outside of scheduled appointments; and a patient’s health status can be continuously monitored and shared with providers in real time.

That said, while technology has given providers many more ways to connect with, support and engage with patients, sometimes this can lead to fragmentation if there isn’t an integrated approach from an operational standpoint. We must focus not only on making it easier for patients to access our health system in the first place, but we need to ensure our digital front door leads to better and more seamless care across the full continuum. When implemented correctly, digital innovations can be a win-win for providers, health systems and patients.

In order to achieve digital transformation in healthcare, provider organizations and digital/tech companies need to work together to integrate developed solutions into patients’ and providers’ daily work and regular interactions with the healthcare system. Innovation must work for providers and patients, and it has to work in our current healthcare system. Too often a solution may work well for a hospital or medical office, but not its patients, or vice versa. Innovations must be tested to ensure that they work for all stakeholders and be able to demonstrate success via improved quality metrics, more efficient care, better patient and provider experiences and improved outcomes.

Sunny Kumar, MD, Partner at GSR Ventures

Digital transformation holds tremendous potential for the healthcare sector, promising that current and emerging software technologies will deliver greater efficiencies, lower costs, and better outcomes for patients. One of the most visible of these digital transformation technologies has been the “digital front door” where some or all of a patient’s typical experience of finding a doctor, making an appointment, checking-in, inputting their medical information and completing appropriate forms, is transitioned from analog to digital.

During the peak of COVID-19, as many visits transitioned to telemedicine, we saw spike of interest in digital front door and comparable solutions as brick-and-mortar providers sought to provide care and compete in a suddenly very different environment. However, while digital front door does provide additional convenience and slight efficiency gains, the lack of a very strong ROI has slowed widespread adoption, even as patient prefers some of its offerings. As an example, for one of the most fundamental features, appointment scheduling, a recent Optum survey found that 74% of patients schedule appointments over the phone or in person, despite 36% of all patients (and 45% of patients age 25-34) preferring to schedule online.

As we look forward, digital front door solutions and digital transformation broadly have great potential to generate significant value for patients, providers, and payers, but companies in the space will need to focus on driving a high ROI for their customer set in order to see meaningful adoption, even more so in the current economic environment.

So much to consider here! Comment down below to share your thoughts on the digital front door and how it has transformed the world of healthcare.

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