Digital Front Door 2022: The New Definition for Healthcare

April 21, 2022 |
Debra Voss
 | Solutions Consultant, Patient Experience

Confused by what exactly the term “digital front door” means in healthcare? You’re not alone. Last September, the experts at KLAS Research asked 27 healthcare providers what the term meant to them. The answers were as varied as the providers themselves: 

  • 95% said a digital front door included tools to help patients find and arrange care 
  • 50% said a digital front door included pre-visit digital marketing and patient acquisition 
  • 25% said a digital front door included post-care digital engagement 
  • 15% said a digital front door included digital care tools used during visits 

Why do more than two-dozen medical experts have such differing opinions on what’s inside a digital front door? Because a true definition of “digital front door” hasn’t existed previously. But today, creating a clear definition of digital front door is mission critical for both providers and healthcare organizations. That’s because today’s digital-savvy consumers demand a convenient and all-inclusive mobile digital health experience that mimics the look and feel of what they get from their favorite retail, hospitality and banking brands. 

So, let’s bring some clarity to the discussion. At DeliverHealth, we believe a true digital front door includes everything those providers told KLAS Research—and more!  

Here’s how our team at DeliverHealth defines a digital front door: A software built to unify digital health point solutions into one cohesive, convenient web and mobile app experience. 

Let’s look at how we arrived at this digital front door definition, and why it’s so important today. 

Consumers’ expectations are changing rapidly 

Prior to 2019, nearly all consumers experienced healthcare the same way. They traveled to a brick-and-mortar office. They sat in a waiting room. Maybe they read a magazine. Then they saw their provider. And while many healthcare organizations implemented telehealth visits, few were doing it on a large scale. 

Then came COVID-19, which drove widespread telehealth adoption and use as healthcare organizations scrambled to find new, convenient ways to deliver care and connect with patients outside of a brick-and-mortar setting. 

Now, two years after the virtual visit revolution, consumers expect all digital interactions with their preferred healthcare organization to be just as convenient as telehealth. In fact, 50% of consumers told Accenture that one bad digital experience with a healthcare provider ruins that entire experience, and 63% of patients say they’ll switch healthcare providers if their payment experience doesn’t cut it. 

Where will those frustrated patients go? In the past, healthcare organizations worried only about losing patients to the provider with the “other healthcare organization” down the street. But today’s competition is fierce and includes the biggest names in retail—Walgreens, CVS, and even Amazon. In fact, Karen S. Lynch, the CEO of CVS, told shareholders during a 2021 earnings call: “Our strategy is to deliver a single, integrated experience that connects individuals to a CVS care team, virtually and face to face.” 

So, the question becomes, can your healthcare organization’s current digital front door solution provide the convenience consumers demand? Does it give you a competitive advantage? Does it make it easy for consumers to connect with you and engage with the services and information you offer? Is it inclusive enough to support every touch point along a patient’s journey? The answers will impact your organization’s future. 

 Healthcare organizations have exceptional point solutions they can’t integrate 

“But wait,” you might say. “I’ve already invested heavily in patient-facing technology.” For most healthcare organizations that statement is 100% true. The fact is, many point solutions—from patient portals to wayfinding apps to telehealth apps and a whole lot more—bring plenty of benefits to consumers on an individual level. But the patient experience is still fragmented as most organizations fall short in seamlessly connecting their disparate digital patient engagement solutions. Integrating these solutions in one cohesive place, where consumers can easily find them and interact with them reduces friction and creates a more satisfying patient experience. 

Let’s be clear: no single point solution alone creates an effective digital front door in 2022. Telehealth is a fantastic tool, but it only covers what happens during the patient visit. EHR portals help keep patients engaged in managing their health at specific points in time, but they don’t help healthcare organizations acquire new patients. They also aren’t comprehensive enough to provide interaction across all points of a patient’s journey.  

Some healthcare organizations, in a rush to meet consumer’s increasing digital health demands, have launched several point solutions as separate apps. But that brings an inherent problem. When a patient consumer visits the Apple App or Google Play store and sees three-to-five different apps with your brand’s name on it, they get confused quickly. As a result, what should’ve been a quick tap of the thumb now becomes a hunt-and-peck mission at best or, at worst, a dead end for patient engagement. 

From Amazon to Marriott to Bank of America, the world’s top companies have a single, unified app that delights their consumers with a complete digital experience. Consumers expect the same from their healthcare providers.  

A comprehensive, highly integrated digital front door brings it all together 

The missing ingredient for many health systems in the past has been the ability to connect their point solutions. But today, newer technologies like application programming interfaces (APIs) and software development kits (SDKs) make it easier than ever for you to make your existing solutions work together in perfect harmony for the benefit of your consumers. 

The DeliverHealth platform can help you bring your valuable point solutions together into a single, comprehensive, highly integrated, and branded digital front door. We’ve designed our digital front door to cover all six care zones on a patient consumer’s digital health journey, including: 

  • Pre-visit – Find a doctor, provider ratings, find a location, appointment scheduling 
  • On-the-way – Valet and parking, wayfinding, self-registration, check-in 
  • In-the-visit – Virtual triage, telehealth, touchless arrival 
  • Financial – Bill pay, payment plans, financial assistance options 
  • Continuing care – Prescription refills, post-visit communication, remote patient monitoring 
  • Loyalty – Loyalty programming, incentivization/gamification, social media 

Our platform includes more than more than 30 API and SDK integrations with some of the largest solution providers in healthcare, allowing you to connect your EHR and all your other important patient-facing tools and give your patients the digital experience they expect and deserve—all in the palm of their hand.  

So, are you ready to embrace the modern digital front door? Let us show you how.