A digital front door is a smart way of connecting patients with the hospital doctors, treatment procedures in a quick, hassle-free manner. It’s an integrated process connecting the hospital website, OPDs with different departments to serve patients better.
The topic was the heart of a recent panel discussion titled 'Digital Front Door-Consumer Driven Health', at DHN Forum-Bengaluru. In the panel discussion, industry experts and healthcare leaders convened to explore the transformative power of digital technologies in reshaping patient experiences and revolutionising healthcare delivery.
The day-long forum hosted by Digital Health News (DHN) saw the attendance of top digital healthcare professionals from across India and the US.
Moderated by Girish Koppar, CIO, Wockhardt Hospital, Mumbai, the panel delved into the nuances of the digital front door concept, its evolution, and the profound impact it has had on patient engagement and accessibility.
The panellists who shared their insights on the topic included: Vishnu Saxena, founder & CEO of DHN and ScaleHealthTech, Amit Sharma, CIO & head partnerships & CSR, CyteCare Hospitals, Prem A, CDO, GM, NMC-Nodal Officer, St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences and Dr Nitiraj Gandhi, executive VP, APAC, THB.
Girish Koppar initiated the discussion by highlighting the evolving definition of the digital front door in healthcare. Traditionally, patients accessed healthcare services by physically walking into hospitals.
However, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the paradigm shifted dramatically. The digital front door now opens when patients engage with hospital services through digital platforms such as websites, mobile applications, and telemedicine portals.
The panellists shed light on the seismic shift in patient experience over the past decade, accentuated by the rapid adoption of technology. Prem A, representing St. John's Hospital, emphasised the imperative of enhancing accessibility, addressing unmet patient needs, optimising costs, and streamlining pre and post-hospitalisation experience processes to ensure a seamless patient journey.
Further, he elaborated on St John's digital initiative, including the implementation of SAP and Success Factors systems, and the introduction of self-service kiosks to expedite patient registration and reduce bottlenecks.
Additionally, he highlighted the utilisation of QR code-based queue management systems to enhance patient convenience and efficiency.
“We started digital initiatives 2 years back and started implementation of the solution a year before. There’s a shift in how patients behave…so we’re trying to study the whole ecosystem and make sure that the patient experience is good,” said Prem A.
Amit Sharma, CIO, CyteCare Hospitals, on the other hand, highlighted how new-age hospitals are integrating digital strategy from the inception itself. According to him, new-age hospitals have an advantage over legacy health systems in terms of processes to define. He went on to add that the majority of these processes are digitally friendly and drafted keeping in mind the new-age digital savvy consumer.
Adding to that, he highlighted that mobile, social and other digital technology has led to a drastic change in terms of ease of doing business and managing patients for hospitals.
In the session, Nitiraj Gandhi, executive VP, APAC, THB, underscored the significance of empowering patients through digital platforms, enabling them to access vital information, schedule appointments, and make informed healthcare decisions.
According to Gandhi, the Digital Front Door initiative can be defined in terms of two major aspects: Access and Communication.
“Access to patients to be able to see what they can experience in a particular hospital, what kind of doctors they can see, what speciality or diseases get treated whereas chatbot could provide communication service. Even the simple availability of doctors displayed on the website can be called passive communication. All of this leads to empowerment,” he added.
Further, he emphasised the importance of transparency, real-time communication, and personalised experiences in fostering patient empowerment and satisfaction.
Amit Sharma, CIO & head partnerships & CSR, CyteCare Hospitals, speaks at DHN Forum Bengaluru.
Vishnu Saxena, founder & CEO of DHN emphasised the pivotal role of data-driven insights in designing personalised patient experiences. Drawing parallels with consumer-centric industries, he advocated for frictionless, omnichannel experiences across the patient journey, underpinned by robust data integration and analytics capabilities.
Saxena, who has led Digital Front Door (DFD) initiatives at multiple hospitals in the US said during the COVID-19 pandemic, patient experience became the new battleground as a result of reduced patient volume.
Sharing his personal experience of working on the DFD initiative at NYP, he said,
“Modern experiences are shaped and designed through better data. Having a hospital website is a good starting point, but the best strategy would be to have a hospital app integrated with the website. So, when a customer calls in, the contact centre agent should recognise by the phone number that a particular patient is calling.”
Adding to that, he said this initiative helps reduce the number of calls to the physicians’s offices thereby also reducing their workload. “The call centre agent could handle more calls in a minute, the average length of call to serve a patient went down. That’s where the frictionless experience comes in,” the DHN founder & CEO added.
Vishnu Saxena, DHN Founder and CEO speaks at DHN Forum Bengaluru
The panellists acknowledged the challenges posed by resource constraints and cybersecurity risks in implementing digital transformation initiatives.
Amit Sharma highlighted the importance of collaborative partnerships and proactive risk management strategies to mitigate cybersecurity threats and ensure data integrity.
While Nitiraj Gandhi stressed the importance of ROI-driven decision-making and the need for robust business cases to justify digital investments. He advocated for early success and incremental gains to build momentum and garner leadership support for long-term digital transformation initiatives.
Vishnu Saxena, on the other hand, seconded the thought. According to him, getting ROI quickly in healthcare using technology is tough and there has to be appropriate lead time, where you can measure the gains and then quantify that over a period of time.
“If you provide Digital Front Door, which is very well integrated, once you go live, which is the recapture of patient demand, you can measure how the patient flow was before vs now. You can also measure social sentiments. There are certain tangible and intangible ways to track that,” he said.
Additionally, he suggested creating a digital roadmap that will contain key digital initiatives a CIO thinks his/her hospital should have. A CIO has to define where the digital strategy fits in the larger enterprise strategy.
Dr Nitiraj Gandhi, executive VP, APAC, THB speaks at DHN Forum Bengaluru
The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving senior digital health leaders. CHIME includes more than 5,000 members in 56 countries and two US territories and partners with over 150 healthcare IT businesses and professional services firms. CHIME enables its members and business partners to collaborate, exchange ideas, develop professionally and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and care throughout the communities they serve. CHIME's members are chief information officers (CIOs), chief medical information officers (CMIOs), chief nursing information officers (CNIOs), chief innovation officers (CIOs), chief digital officers (CDOs), and other senior healthcare leaders. The CHIME India Chapter became the first international chapter outside North America in 2016 and is now a community of over 70+ members in India. For more information, please visit www.chimecentral.org