How can a digital front door change the way consumers access and interact with health systems?

Arguably the biggest challenge facing healthcare is the continually rising frustrations from consumers around the way they access and interact with the health system. These expectations are based on the way consumers use digital services like online banking. To address this, healthcare needs an equivalent.  

Typically, to access healthcare services, citizens must make an appointment with their doctor, wait some time for that appointment, then wait again for any referrals to other healthcare providers. The process is fragmented, slow, opaque and fraught with risk of errors.  

It’s time we let technologies work their magic to address these challenges and ensure people consistently receive the right care, at the right place and at the right time for them. 

Improving access

Consumers often want to better manage their healthcare, but they don’t know where to start – where can I get the support I need? Why am I waiting so long for my appointment? Who do I need to speak to? What happens after my appointment? For all of these reasons people can be left feeling helpless, frustrated and dissatisfied.

A healthcare digital front door empowers consumers to interact with their health system effectively and efficiently at a time and place convenient to them. It provides people with access to all of the tools needed to manage their own, as well as their dependents’ health and wellbeing, from a central location, and seamlessly guides them through their health journey.

Empowering consumers with this type of access to digital services in healthcare promises to be even more transformative than online and mobile banking were to the finance industry.

Urgently addressing the challenge

Whilst patient experience transformation of healthcare systems is long overdue, the global COVID-19 pandemic has emphasised the need for investment in technology to enable high-quality care and to deliver new ways for people to interact with their health systems.

With the e-health industry attracting increasing investment and attention, we now have the right building blocks in place to drive the change that consumers have long desired. The requirement for social distancing – to keep people away from hospitals and clinics – means that a ‘digital first’ strategy has finally become widespread and mainstream.

Organisations now offer their consumers more and more ways of interacting with them digitally, for example via virtual care platforms and appointment booking systems. The risk going forward is that the fragmentation issue actually gets worse, and the overall consumer experience remains poor. Consumers want easy, efficient and effective ways to interact with their healthcare providers, but they also want those providers to be securely sharing information with each other, so they only have to tell their story once.

The healthcare digital front door 

Fortunately, technology can have a significant positive impact on these issues. Shared care records and health information exchanges (HIEs) overcome fragmentation for providers, providing a 360-degree view of the consumer. Digital front doors promise to do the same for consumers, providing a 360-degree view of the healthcare ecosystem in their local geography. 

By putting consumers at the centre of healthcare delivery and empowering them to navigate disjointed, complex health systems, a digital front door promises to address the challenges facing today’s healthcare organisations.   

Read more about Digital health’s next big transformation: The shift to healthcare, anywhere in our latest whitepaper.