Looking Beyond the Digital Front Door
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Looking Beyond the Digital Front Door

Tom Barnett, Chief Information and Digital Officer, Baptist Memorial Health Care

As consumers, we have become conditioned to a certain extent. We have grown to expect an ‘on demand’ level of service and who can blame us? From streaming movies the same day they’re in the theater, to having our favorite food arrive at our door, to purchasing nearly any product imaginable and having it delivered right to our homes. Our world has become not just ‘now’ but ‘me, now.’

The prevailing strategies in healthcare have encouraged us to look into digital transformation and to ensure we are connecting with our patients not just physically, but technologically through ‘digital front doors.’ We must, in fact, anticipate and meet our patients’ digital transaction expectations. And all of that is true.

Healthcare, however, is a little different than other industries. Where you may have weekly, daily, or even moment-to-moment interactions with some of your favorite companies and brands, unless you are managing an ongoing condition or disease, you typically don’t have a high level of contact with your healthcare provider. As a result, we miss the opportunity to build those similar types of relationships. Sure, your doctor knows you, but does the health care organization?

If we step back for moment, and look at what we really need to achieve as healthcare industry and how technology can help support or even transform that vision then we might get a slightly different picture than that electronic entryway.

Start by asking the patient exactly what we could do better for them today.

The answers might not only surprise us but guide us.

Perhaps it’s the need to refill a medication prescription quickly, the capability to self-schedule or reschedule their own appointment – any appointment, maybe schedule visits for several family members together to avoid multiple trips, perhaps the patient would like to quickly get an answer to a medical question and doesn’t know where to begin, possibly help the patient navigate all the complexities of a new chronic disease journey?

Here’s where we have the opportunity to make profound changes in healthcare. I have always advocated that if we map the patient journey we desire to offer and design a supporting healthcare workflow that will support and facilitate that journey then the technology needs will rise to the top and become self-evident. The patient journey combined with an optimized workflow and just the right amount of technology is what creates memorable experiences.

“Stepping through the door and looking around can offer a completely new perspective”

Think about the best and most memorable experience you have had. That experience was memorable because it connected with you and made you feel special. Feeling special comes from knowing someone well and being able to anticipate their needs. That is a huge opportunity for all of us right now.

We have access to a tremendous amount of data about our patients, but that data is incomplete. We need to look at not only their care but also what it takes to know them as an individual person to truly round out the picture.

Starting with the patient, let’s build that defining and memorable experience by streamlining the journeys and optimizing the workflows and then enable that with the best technology that can bring it all together. Process is always upstream from technology.

Digital disruption can and should happen in healthcare. However, if we look beyond the idea of a simple digital front door and instead focus on meeting the patient where they are, when they are, who they are, and being of assistance at the moment of need it could significantly change the conversation.

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