The latest disruptive technology to hit the healthcare industry is the “digital front door.” Healthcare organizations such as Intermountain Healthcare and Baylor Scott & White have already implemented a digital front door strategy in the form of a modern patient app. There are multiple definitions of the digital front door. Healthtech Magazine offers the following definition: “The digital front door is an integrated digital strategy for engaging patients at every step along their healthcare journey.” John Lynn, founder of HealthcareScene.com stated, “I think we’re actually seeing two new digital front doors happening in healthcare: the Patients’ Entrance to Healthcare and Digital Check-In.”
No matter the source, everyone agrees that a healthcare digital front door is a key part of one’s patient engagement strategy, which focuses on an enhanced digital experience. “The digital front door is not just a patient portal or website with a suite of self-service tools, but what it should be, is a client-branded mobile app with all the rich functionality of their patient portal, website tools and other patient engagement features,” said John Deutsch, CEO of Bridge Patient Portal.
To keep up with the ever-evolving needs of patients, healthcare organizations often leverage multiple patient engagement solutions. Implementing a digital front door as part of your sole patient engagement solution reduces cost. One solution that performs multiple functions is cheaper than multiple piecemealed systems trying to perform the same functionality.
It’s also easier to maintain and manage one digital front door healthcare solution, resulting in a decrease in labor, rather than the staff effort required to manage multiple systems, which attempt to perform all of your patient engagement functionalities.
When healthcare organizations use multiple patient engagement solutions, they open themselves up to security risks. Multiple solutions require access to patient data in order to function. It’s simpler to ensure that one digital front door healthcare solution is HIPAA compliant and meets your security needs.
A healthcare digital front door is a sophisticated patient engagement strategy. Solutions of this caliber should keep a pulse on consumer trends, updating/upgrading their solution without any effort on the healthcare organization’s part.
Modern patients seek healthcare providers who offer digital capabilities. Providing a digital front door attracts more patients by providing convenience. Features such as self-scheduling, self-registration, virtual visits, online bill-pay, and prescription-refill requests will bring more patients to your practice.
Once you’ve attracted new patients, it’s essential to build a relationship with them. Patients will continue to choose providers who they trust and feel connected to. Engagement solutions such as bi-directional messaging, online care plans, and patient education help to drive loyalty. Patients have also been shown to remain loyal to one provider in order to “build” on their stored medical record and health information.
Patient engagement methods, such as a digital front door, improve patient outcomes. Several benefits have been discovered, like improved communication between physicians and patients, enhanced self-management of overall wellness, and better patient health behaviors.
“Patients who effectively used a portal were 2-4% less likely to be hospitalized. Those who engaged with the portal were 3.2% less likely to visit the emergency room. The average length of stay after being hospitalized decreased by 11%. Readmission rates were about 2% lower among users of patient portals compared to those who did not make use of a patient portal.” – Research Finds Significant Patient Portal Benefits For Remote Patient Monitoring
Patients’ expectations for digital capabilities are on the rise. More than half of all patients expect some sort of digital capabilities from their healthcare provider.
Self-service tools that patients want within a digital front door include:
– Patient-Provider Messaging
– Medical Records
– Bill Pay
– Patient Intake & Check-In
– Recall & Care Gaps
– Rx Refills
– Forms & Assessments
– Texting & Chat
– Lab Results
– Patient Education
– Location & Provider Search
– Urgent Care Wait Times
– Appointment Reminders
– Mapping Geo-Location
A digital front door strategy should include a mobile application as 57% of patients prefer to communicate with healthcare organizations through mobile apps. Research has shown that patients want mobile-application to:
– Be branded to the healthcare organization
– Provide rich and relevant features
– Have robust functionality natively built-in (which doesn’t require the user to leave the platform or remember multiple logins)
There are several methods to acquire a healthcare digital front door. Each method has its own pros and cons and price point.
Buy an EHR solution that offers rich patient engagement functionality such as epic, eClinicalworks, or athenahealth. This type of solution consolidates the functionality found within patient portal, EHR, PM, and RCM systems. A mobile app is often available from these types of vendors but typically isn’t client-branded and lacks the ability for customization. Buying an EHR/PM solution is the cheapest and easiest digital front door option. Healthcare organizations considering this route will need to own the EHR software before gaining access to their digital front door.
Build a custom client-branded iOS/Android mobile app solution from your existing EHR/PM/RCM/patient portal solution. This method allows you to include all of the functionality a patient is seeking. Building a custom digital front door is the most expensive solution ranging between $200,000 and $500,000.
Buy an off-the-shelf product like Bridge, a patient engagement software that allows you to publish your client-branded mobile app with a selection of patient engagement features. Universe mHealth, an innovative mHealth company, also offers this type of product, and it’s a slightly more customizable healthcare mobile app platform.
Although disruptive, digital front doors allow healthcare organizations to better engage with their patients and attract more business. If implemented correctly, a digital front door will not only reduce costs but increase revenue. Get ahead of the competition and implement a digital front door strategy today.