In part 1 of our exploration of healthcare’s two digital front doors, we talked about the digital door being built to help patients enter healthcare. In the second part of this series, we’ll explore another new digital front door that’s happening in healthcare: Virtual Patient Check-In
As I talked with many people about the new Digital Front Door of healthcare, they envisioned the new virtual check-in process that social distancing has required. I see how many saw this as a new digital front door to healthcare since it literally is replacing waiting rooms with a new digital check-in process or the new front door of an in person practice.
While virtual check-in is still evolving quickly, the most common approach we see is practices having patients wait in their cars while they check in virtually. Once they’re ready to room you, they’ll notify you and bring you into the office.
While some practices are keeping this process simple with even a paper check in process and a human greeting you as you arrive while you wait in your car, most are employing some sort of digital check-in solution that relies on text messages.
Once a channel of communication is opened with the patient, the practice can then facilitate the digital check-in process. In many cases this includes checking the patient for various safety issues such as a fever, exposure to people infected by COVID-19, and more. It can also include digital intake forms and digitally capturing the patient’s insurance card and driver’s license either before they arrive or while they’re waiting in their car.
No doubt there are plenty of challenges associated with this new digital check-in. What if they don’t come by car? How do you keep them engaged if your practice is running late? How simple is it for your staff to adopt the new workflow? Does this new front door need to be integrated with your EHR/PM system? Shouldn’t my EHR vendor be offering this solution? (Don’t count on this one, EHR vendors have enough on their plate)
While there are plenty of challenges and questions with this new digital patient check-in, there are also opportunities. Could this new process, open up a higher quality patient experience? Could it be the start of more ongoing communication with the patient? While we’re not there yet, the new Digital Patient Check-In front door is going to be a huge opportunity to improve the patient experience in healthcare.
While COVID-19 has been tough on so many levels, these two new digital front doors are really exciting for me. The former focuses on optimizing the patient experience as they enter the healthcare system. The later focuses on optimizing the patient experience once they’re already engaged as a patient. Both are important efforts that are going to have a lasting impact on healthcare.
How do you look at these 2 digital front doors? Who do you think is executing them best? How do you think they’ll impact healthcare? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.