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Implementing a digital front door in healthcare

Published: October 5, 2023 by Experian Health

implementing-a-digital-front-door-in-healthcare

Humans increasingly benefit from the convenience of a self-service world. Thanks to the internet and companies like Amazon, online digital interactions yield an almost immediate result. It’s a standard consumers have adapted to and unconsciously expect from every service provider, whether it’s same-day grocery delivery or scheduling the next doctor’s appointment. Today’s gold standard for most services is a few clicks with a favorite handheld digital device. But when it comes to healthcare, sometimes expectations don’t meet reality. Healthcare providers must accommodate patient expectations by opening a digital front door.

Despite the complexities inherent in American healthcare, patients increasingly demand a frictionless online experience where they manage their care at their leisure. Clarissa Riggins, Chief Product Officer at Experian Health, says, “Patients have increasingly high expectations for easy and efficient tech-enabled solutions when it comes to accessing healthcare services. They seek convenient self-scheduling options, accurate cost estimates, and the ability to pre-register through their smartphones.”

Understanding the Need for a Digital Front Door in Healthcare

Healthcare’s digital front door is a set of online tools that enable patients to manage their care. These tools began growing in popularity during COVID, when the necessity of limiting physical interactions drove many patients to online healthcare alternatives. These digital encounters further increased patient expectations of a seamless healthcare experience from scheduling to service delivery to payment.

Meeting Patient Demand for Digital Services

Increasingly, the level of control that stems from online scheduling is what healthcare customers demand. Digital tools used to book appointments, register for care, and make payments are becoming a norm across the healthcare continuum. Survey results from the State of Patient Access 2023 found that some of the most important digital services for patients that drive a positive experience include being able to schedule appointments online or via a mobile device (76%), having an online/mobile option for payments (72%), and more digital options for managing healthcare (56%).

Clarissa Riggins points out the gap between these expectations and the reality of most patient experiences, stating, “In general, findings seem to show progress has stalled when it comes to making patient access functions like scheduling, registration, coverage verification, and cost estimates more efficient.”

Yet providers seem aware of their patient’s interest in seeing more, not fewer, digital front door tools in healthcare delivery. The State of Patient Access 2023 report shows 86% of healthcare providers want their organizations to improve by adopting digital front door software. Riggins says, “But provider’s motivation is not necessarily generating action.” Patients are growing frustrated; nearly half say they can’t find appointments to fit their schedule, and 40% complain that even trying to schedule with a doctor is challenging.

Today, 87% of patients perceive the across-the-board accessibility of their healthcare practitioners as a problem. Digital front door software is healthcare’s solution to provider shortages, decreasing access, and our patient’s on-demand scheduling requirements.

Patients and Doctors Want Digital Front Door Software to Increase Access to Care

Patients are turning to providers who use automated solutions. Recent data from Experian Health and PYMNTS found that a third of patients chose to fill out registration forms for their most recent healthcare visit using digital methods, and 61% of patients said they’d consider changing healthcare providers to one that offers a patient portal. A prior study showed 44% of patients say they prefer to receive test results via a secure online hub. While staffing shortages certainly impact the ability to schedule care, Riggins points out, “Since patients associate ‘access’ with their ability to see a provider quickly, it makes sense that, without technology in place, staffing shortages will negatively impact the consumer experience.” It’s a good point; nearly 40% of healthcare providers say technology solutions like digital front door software offset staffing shortages.

Healthcare patients demand digital front door access and their doctors agree. But healthcare organizations are lagging in implementing these tools. Where is the disconnect? Eliminating the tedious human tasks that accompany manual patient registration, automating accurate price estimates, or offering patients one-click, convenient payment options, will free up staff to focus on key initiatives. Not to mention that these digital innovations will give patients and providers what they want.

Perhaps the lag in implementing healthcare digital front doors occurs because these organizations find digital transformation daunting. But healthcare providers can work with a third-party trusted advisor with the right expertise to make the transition to digital front door software.

Utilize Mobile and Self-Service Scheduling

Experian Health specializes in opening healthcare’s digital front door, beginning at the front door of any practice. Automated patient scheduling gives patients 24/7 control over when they visit doctors. Easy one-click functionality in a comfortable user interface allows patients to reach the right doctor at the best time for everyone. For providers, this kind of digital front door software alleviates the pressure on overburdened scheduling staff by moving these processes to a self-service online environment.

Provide A Better Registration Experience

Experian Health’s registration software also takes the next step, inviting patients through the digital front door by simplifying and streamlining intake. Healthcare organizations can create a better registration experience and increase patient booking with text-to-mobile registration. Two-way automated communications with patients decrease no-shows and engage patients at every step of their journey. For new and existing patients, automated cost estimates with easy payment options let them know their obligations to a healthcare practice, increasing co-pay collections while lessening burdens on providers and staff.

Communicate Costs Upfront

Communicating the costs associated with healthcare delivery is a critically important step toward improving patient experience. Experian Health’s State of Patient Accesssurvey found that nearly 90% of patients want an accurate pre-treatment estimate, but less than a third receive one. That’s why Experian Health expanded their digital front door software to include tools like Patient Estimates and Patient Financial Advisor. These tools creates true price transparency between healthcare providers and their patients. Providing a patient with an on-demand, clear, accurate cost estimate for healthcare should be a standard part of the care delivery paradigm. These solutions automate this process so that every customer understands the costs associated with receiving care.

The Bottom Line

There is evidence now that patients want a digital front door to improve access to care. They want to retake control of their health and do it from their preferred digital device. Experian Health has a set of digital front door tools that brings healthcare consumers exactly what they want while lowering provider staffing costs. Adopting innovative digital solutions is no longer an “if” proposition; healthcare customers have shown they will seek out new providers if their scheduling, registration, and payment processes are not seamless. This shift in the consumerism of our healthcare services means that healthcare organizations face a strategic imperative to open the digital front door—or lose patients to the competition.

Contact Experian Health to learn we help organizations open their digital front door with automated patient access solutions.

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