Woman having a virtual appointment with her doctor on the phone.

5 Ways a Digital Front Door Improves Healthcare

Healthcare systems across Canada – and around the world – are in crisis. Lack of funding, hospital closures, chronic healthcare worker shortages, and clinician burnout are contributing to perpetually overcrowded emergency departments, excessive wait times, and systemic barriers to care.

Change is needed now to ease pressure and ensure Canadians can continue to access the care they need when they need it.

Technology, like a digital front door, has the power to support our healthcare systems, enhance access to care, streamline processes and enhance patient outcomes.

A digital front door functions as a primary point of entrance to healthcare, where patients can access services that span the healthcare continuum. A digital front door is an omnichannel engagement strategy that combines the tools and technology needed to engage and assist patients at every touchpoint of their healthcare journey – leveraging the technology most already use daily.

Here are five ways a digital front door can help improve healthcare.

1. Improved patient experiences  

Today’s world is all about digital experiences, and healthcare is no exception. The pandemic accelerated our adoption of digital healthcare services and permanently changed the expectations of healthcare consumers. Patients want digital solutions like virtual care, telemedicine and remote monitoring to remain the norm in healthcare delivery,  thanks to the convenience, time-savings, and cost-savings it offers. 

The numbers speak for themselves; according to Canada Health Infoway, Canadians who accessed digital health services in recent years had overwhelmingly positive responses:

  • 8 in 10 Canadians who used health technology report they were better able to manage their health and had a better quality of life.
  • 9 in 10 Canadians who used health technology report it saved them time.
  • 89 percent of Canadians who accessed health records electronically felt that they were more informed about their health
  • 84 percent feel they can better manage their health 
  • 41 percent said they were able to avoid a trip to the emergency room.

A digital front door makes a range of healthcare services accessible from any device. Patients can receive reliable healthcare advice, browse healthcare providers in their area, find and book the soonest available appointment, and connect with healthcare providers – sometimes instantly – from the comfort of home. This convenience provides the experiences patients want and eliminates the need to visit the ED, helping to ease the strain on the system.

2. Enhanced accessibility 

Canadians are struggling to access the healthcare services they need. The Angus Reid Institute found that 29 percent of adults – that’s nearly nine million Canadians – have experienced chronic difficulty in accessing healthcare. As hospital and ED closures become more commonplace, accessing care will only become more challenging. 

With a digital front door, patients can connect with a chatbot or healthcare navigator, discuss their condition, and get advice on the most appropriate place to seek treatment, which could be a clinic or pharmacy. For more acute cases, patients can connect with healthcare providers virtually, ensuring even those in underserved or remote communities have easy access to care. 

RELATED: Discover how a digital front door can help solve the healthcare crisis: download our eBook today. 

3. Helping seniors stay at home longer

Canada’s population – like most populations around the world – is aging. By 2028, Canada’s senior population will swell from 16.9 percent to around 21 percent. For many seniors, aging in place and maintaining freedom and independence for as long as possible is a top priority, but this can be challenging for seniors living with chronic conditions. 

A digital front door can connect seniors to healthcare services in their home, limiting the need to travel to medical facilities, which helps reduce exposure to illness and injury. A digital front door can also combine the tools needed for remote monitoring, so caregivers can evaluate changes in their senior patients’ health status and proactively address those issues before they escalate.

Providing reliable access to quality healthcare can help keep seniors healthier – and at home – for longer, which aligns with their wishes and helps reduce the demand on long-term care homes. 

4. Better use of healthcare resources

Every year, millions of Canadians head to the ED for minor medical complaints – coughs and colds, ear infections, etc., – conditions that would be better treated elsewhere, like in a walk-in clinic, pharmacy, or by a family doctor. This practice is overcrowding EDs, driving wait times, exhausting hospital staff, and often results in poor health outcomes. 

A digital front door can help divert patients from the ED by directing them to the most appropriate point of care. Patients can also check their symptoms online and get advice from a nurse or healthcare navigator on how to treat at home, if and when appropriate. 

Seeking care in the right place usually means patients are treated faster. It also frees up space in the ED, enabling hospital staff to focus on more acute patients. 

By directing patients to the best point of care every time, we better utilize available healthcare resources, which can save millions each year. Even better — eliminating unnecessary travel to the ED could pump an estimated $5 billion back into the Canadian economy annually.

5. Cost savings and efficiency 

A recent report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business estimated that doctors spend 18.5 million hours a year nationally on needless administrative activity – the equivalent of 55.6 million patient visits. If governments across Canada were able to reduce that burden by even 10 percent, it could translate to the equivalent of 5.5 million more patient visits per year.

A digital front door can help reduce clinical and administrative burden on healthcare workers and healthcare systems. Patients can browse healthcare services and book appointments online, freeing up time for front desk staff. Automated triage via chatbot ensures patients are funnelled to the right point of care. Workflows are automated and streamlined, from intake to assessment, virtual visits, follow-ups and transitions of care, improving communication while enhancing record-keeping, reducing manual entry errors, and preventing lost paperwork. 

By eliminating outdated, time-consuming administrative tasks, we can give healthcare providers more time to focus on providing quality patient care. 

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By embracing robust solutions like a digital front door, we can begin to ease the strain on our healthcare system, enhance access to care, and better utilize our healthcare resources. Learn more about how a digital front door can transform healthcare – request a demo today.