How to gain a competitive edge through a digital front door strategy: 5 insights

Healthcare has been working on transforming the patient experience for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the transformation of one key area: the digital front door, the collection of digital touchpoints between patients and healthcare organizations. Digital front door is not a technology; it is a strategy for engaging patients at every touchpoint through an integrated, optimized ecosystem.

During an October webinar hosted by Becker's Healthcare and sponsored by Avtex, the following panelists shared insights about the digital front door and strategies for optimizing it:

  • Mike Pietig, vice president of healthcare experience at Avtex
  • Matt Maliszewski, business development director of healthcare at Avtex 
  • Jamey Shiels, system vice president of consumer experience at Downers Grove, Ill.- and Milwaukee-based Advocate Aurora Health
  • Chad Thorpe, care ambassador at DispatchHealth

Five key takeaways:

1. Due to changing consumer expectations, your competition is no longer just in healthcare. In healthcare, patients increasingly want the same seamless, streamlined, user-friendly, personalized experiences delivered in other areas of their lives, like e-commerce. While consumers previously compared their healthcare experiences against other healthcare providers, they now compare healthcare to other consumer experiences. "If I'm scheduling an appointment, I'm comparing that with making a reservation through OpenTable," Mr. Pietig said. "The last best experience of your consumer is who your competition is."

2. Quality patient experiences yield multiple benefits. Market research company IDC predicted that 65 percent of patients will have accessed healthcare through a digital front door by 2023. Mr. Pietig noted that 81 percent of consumers were unhappy with their healthcare experience and 71 percent wished their healthcare experience was more like other online experiences, such as shopping.

For patients, the benefits of improved digital front door experiences include increased personalization, convenience and satisfaction. For healthcare organizations, benefits include improved patient acquisition, employee productivity, patient outcomes, net promoter scores, operational efficiency and revenue growth. 

3. A successful digital front door requires a cohesive strategy. Elements of this strategy must include organizational alignment, optimizing digital interactions across all channels, optimal use of data to deliver more personalized experiences, and making everything clear and transparent. A successful digital front door produces a "consistent frictionless healthcare experience," Mr. Maliszewski said.

Mr. Pietig described Avtex's four-stage methodology that helps organizations create or update their digital front door strategy and customer experience. "What we've found is that our clients who consistently prioritize the consumer and customer experience see improved outcomes, both financial and clinical, and maintain a competitive advantage," he said.

4. Advocate Aurora Health focused on five key digital initiatives. Improving the customer experience is a big mandate. Advocate Aurora Health broke down this mission into five initiatives: LiveWell, a mobile app for consumers and team members; enhanced scheduling; virtual health; a consumer engagement platform; and a digital platform that ensures the digital experience is consistent and user-friendly. "Our overall strategy around our key initiatives was born out of a singular focus to deliver a seamless, personalized, end-to-end experience for our customers," Mr. Shiels said.

5. Digital front doors apply to all patient groups and healthcare providers. DispatchHealth is bringing several types of care to the home, including acute care, extended care and advanced care. Among the patients that DispatchHealth serves are elderly patients. As a result, among the company's priorities are to ensure that its digital transformation makes the patient experience seamless for all patients, which includes use of interactive voice response technology and other technologies in call centers. "We're trying to address all of the needs on the journey of the patient … using these tools that we've created," Mr. Thorpe said.

To view the full webinar, click here.

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