A Digital Front Door Strategy: What It Is, Isn’t, and Why You Need One

What is the Digital Front Door?

The digital front door is a strategy for engaging patients at every major touchpoint of the patient journey using technology that patients have already adopted for everyday use. A strong digital front door strategy doesn’t hinge on any single product but leverages technology to expand patient access, improve productivity, and drive higher patient satisfaction and increased revenue. 

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Healthcare’s digital front door has arrived and it’s so much more than digital intake. It’s arrived thanks in part to innovations from consumer brands like Amazon, Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and Netflix who have redefined how consumers interact with brands and organizations beyond their walls. It didn’t happen overnight. It took years for consumer brands to figure out what people respond to while the tools were still being created for people to interact with companies they trust. Many traditional consumer companies didn’t make the transition and healthcare didn’t have the luxury of failing so moving slow was an asset. Now the time to move slow is over.  Innovative solutions and startups are helping bridge the gap between patient expectations and healthcare operations but a unified strategy is missing. A digital front door is much more than the adoption of a single piece, it’s a strategic approach to extend access beyond its facilities to where its patients live and to support the various points in the patient’s journey.

Your Digital Front Door is a Strategy

As we gain clarity around the way patients interact with technology and view access, a digital front door strategy offers health systems unprecedented efficiency and access, and patients the kind of flexibility and convenience they’ve never experienced in healthcare before. It’s the difference between having to set a reminder to call the clinic when it opens and having the ability to schedule an appointment in the middle of the night or on a weekend. This strategy recognizes that patients will always choose to do the easy thing. Today this means trying to access everything online, on their phone, or down the street. This is why the convenience of urgent clinics are so appealing and disruptive to traditional care.  A digital front door strategy proactively creates easy access points, including online self-scheduling, mobile pre-registration/check-in, web/mobile payments, surveys that feed online reviews, and automated reminders for follow-up because it’s easier to be reactive than proactive.

Five Reasons You Should Be Creating a Digital Front Door Now

Patient Portals Aren’t Enough

Your digital front door encompasses your patient portal but doesn’t depend on the adoption of it. Meaningful use mandated the use of patient portals and they promise value to both patients and their providers. Still, portal adoption remains an issue, averaging less than 35%. Your digital front door acknowledges that patients aren’t likely to download another app or create (much less remember) another username or password, rather it’s designed to operate without those things. So while your strategy can help drive adoption of your portal, its success doesn’t hinge on your patients’ compliance in using it.

Solutions Need to Be Unified

Your digital front door equips your organization to accomplish patient engagement at each major touchpoint using the fewest vendors possible, so:

  • Your messaging is cohesive
  • You can ensure TCPA and HIPAA compliance
  • You have fewer integrations to manage
  • You can leverage bundled savings

Patients Are Responsible for More

Shrinking reimbursement and growing out-of-pocket costs for patients mean you need efficiency like never before. Margins continue to shrink while patient balances grow and become harder to collect. This creates a growing burden on staff to manage billing and collections and makes it more important than ever to optimize provider schedules for high productivity and maximum billable time. A digital front door strategy uses innovation to pick up manual work that can be automated, shrinking the risk of no-shows, reducing days to collect, and freeing staff to interact with patients, create payment plans, or manage high impact functions of a practice.

Patients Will Choose Ease

The demand for 24/7 access and self-service convenience offers medical groups, hospitals, and health systems an opportunity to differentiate now or be left behind to catch up later. As patients take on a growing proportion of the financial burden, the power is shifting to them as well. Your digital front door offers new means for attracting patients and keeping them loyal.

Productivity and Consistency

Nothing can help you provide consistent quality and service to your patients while driving productivity like a digital front door. One of the foundational components of a digital front door strategy is automation, which replaces low-return manual tasks with high-return and unmatched efficiency. Automation also removes the variation that can take place when a task or process changes hands from shift to shift and person to person, resulting in consistency that reduces waste, optimizes your resources, and drives progress towards your quality objectives and financial goals.