The digital front door in healthcare has become an essential part of the patient experience – especially so post-pandemic. Patients want to manage their own care at their convenience, and today’s providers need to accommodate this increasing demand for control by implementing the right tools and technology. Whether it’s booking appointments, registering for care or receiving estimates, providers have to accommodate for a huge range of digital options that can enable frictionless patient experiences – while also reducing administrative burden. However, despite healthcare’s efforts to digitally transform, frustration remains. A new survey by Experian Health shows consumers perceive their access to clinical services as getting worse or staying the same.
What are the pain points of the digital front door?
The 2023 State of Patient Access report from Experian Health shows that despite incremental growth in adopting digital front door software, healthcare patients and providers say patient access remains a challenge.
The top pain points cited by patients included:
- Difficulty in seeing a doctor quickly (78%)
- Challenges of finding an appointment that fits their personal schedule (49%)
- The scheduling process itself (40%)
The pain points cited by providers included:
- Staffing shortages negatively impacting service levels (87%)
- Lingering pandemic-related confusion (64%)
- Difficulty in producing accurate patient cost estimates (63%)
Staffing shortages remain a challenge to patient access, even for providers with digital front door tools. The Experian Health survey shows the speed of scheduling appointments, verifying coverage and making payments hasn’t improved. Providers acknowledge that establishing a digital front door is challenging on many fronts, such as accurate data collection at intake, accommodating both patient and provider scheduling complexities to enable digital/mobile services, and changing many aspects of the payment experience.
Nearly half of the clinical providers surveyed suggest access to care has worsened in the past two years. Unfortunately, patients agree, with 62% saying access has stayed the same since the pandemic.
These poll numbers are a significant finding within the lens of the pandemic, which placed unprecedented strain on the U.S. healthcare system at every level. Yet COVID-induced disruptions also introduced many patients to digital services, changing the patient healthcare journey along with attitudes about digital technologies.
Patients and doctors want more—not fewer digital services
At the same time, the survey showed patients and doctors still believe healthcare digital front door technology offers a way to streamline visits and improve workflows. For example:
- Six in 10 providers say digital front door software enhances the patient experience
- 76% of patients would prefer to schedule online appointments from their mobile device
- 72% of patients also want online and mobile payment options
- 56% of patients want more digital options for managing their health
Patient behaviors back up these preferences; recent data from Experian Health and PYMNTS found 61% say they’d even consider switching healthcare providers to one that offers a digital patient portal.
3 solutions to improve the digital front door
Healthcare has been slower to adopt the latest digital front door technologies, but that is changing. Some forward-thinking healthcare providers have transformed their scheduling and payment processes, offering digital patient portals for lab results, text for appointment reminders, online collections and more. From streamlining administrative processes to reducing wait times, leveraging technology can ultimately help healthcare providers save time and resources while improving patient experiences. How can providers use the digital front door to eliminate friction in the patient journey?
1. Simplify patient scheduling
To help patients find the most convenient time to see their doctor, healthcare organizations turn to Experian Health’s Patient Scheduling Software. This software acts as an effective, seamless digital front door that allows patients to easily see scheduling options in real time.
Experian’s patient-centric scheduling software improves the patient experience by guiding patients to the right specialists. Automated patient outreach by text and IVR reaches patients in the communication venues they prefer and feel comfortable using. This solution also helps patients easily book appointments, reducing provider no-shows and opens the digital front door for better customer service and healthcare outcomes.
2. Speed up registration times
According to the Experian Health report, eight in 10 patients prefer the control of scheduling appointments from any digital channel at their convenience. With labor costs rising, these intelligent platforms not only give patients what they want; they lessen staffing burdens on healthcare providers. The survey also shows that 36% of providers say digital front door software helps combat rising staff shortages and HR costs.
Patient intake software streamlines patient registration by eliminating the need for manual booking. This solution offers mobile-first automated registration support and reduces wait times to speak with administrative staff. Patients can fill out forms and surveys anytime and anywhere, at their own convenience. Patient access solutions give consumers the self-service experience they demand while improving the efficiency of care delivery across a healthcare organization.
3. Provide more accurate estimates
More than 90% of patients underestimate the costs of their medical procedures. The result is higher medical debt for the patient and increased collections and write-offs for the provider.
The Experian Health survey showed four in 10 patients cancel or reschedule needed treatments because they lack an accurate upfront cost estimate. Three-quarters of providers say they understand the importance of these estimates to improve payment collections, yet 65% of patients lack this critical information.
Experian Health created Patient Financial Advisor and Patient Estimates to help providers improve price transparency. Providers can use these tools to easily capture intake data and provide accurate cost estimates to patients, all while offering convenient online payment options to enhance collections. By utilizing these solutions, patients can gain a clearer understanding of their healthcare costs, while providers can ensure they meet regulatory requirements and boost revenue at the point of service.
The revolving digital front door
Digital technology can enhance the patient experience, and healthcare customers are interested in using these tools. Opening this type of digital front door can be daunting, but providers can work with a healthcare vendor with the right expertise to improve access to care.
Learn more about how Experian Health’s digital front door solutions can increase patient satisfaction by ensuring patients get the access they demand—and deserve.