The future of healthcare is being driven by innovation and digital transformation. Healthcare is evolving into a new era where almost everything is connected through digital technologies to improve the way healthcare is delivered. Most of the things that need to happen before a patient walks into a clinic or hospital – from appointment scheduling to check-ups and digital sampling forms – can be done with technology.
This was true before the pandemic, but now almost every interaction within a healthcare delivery organization (HDO) starts with a call, click, or chat. As hospitals and healthcare systems continue to re-evaluate their patient engagement strategies, they need to deliberately design a hybrid experience.
There’s a whole range of possible exchanges with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), but digital isn’t the whole story.
Throughout the pandemic, healthcare systems have seen an increase in the volume of traditional voice channels. Patients called health systems for primary care triage when they had been to urgent care. There’s a lot we can do beyond voice, and HDOs will have to combine analog and digital tools. A simple phone interaction evolves into a virtual segment as agents have seamless access to electronic health records (EHRs), customer relationship management (CRM) and scheduling software. calendar through a single pane of glass.
The goal of great technology is to put all the complexity in the background, so every agent knows the contextual information they need to meet patients where they are and on the channel of their choice.
Changing patterns of interaction with patients
What we are seeing in the industry is an expansion of virtual care running throughout the care process. It ranges from patient admission to inpatient rounding, and from specialist consultation to acute/chronic post-acute care management.
Cisco is defining broadly digital front door including digital collaboration across voice, text, email, and AI chats. The digital front door is also the communication between care teams and patients to include the exchange of images and documents.
Digital front door technology can positively impact almost any interaction from before a patient checks in to after they leave the hospital. This includes:
- Intakes – scheduling, referrals, pre-initiation services, financial advice and revenue cycles
- Post-acute – digital services to assist with notification compliance, chronic condition symptom management, etc.
In most health systems, patient admission is primarily a manual process, and interaction is largely centered on phone-calling workflows.
An increase in automated calls and spam has limited trust in the voice channel, meaning that patients do not always answer phone calls. When this happens, communication takes a long time.
Re-imagining patient communication requires connecting systems and applications to patient data. AI and natural language processing (NLP) will play a big role in accelerating the speed of action and increasing the frequency of patient contact, both before and after clinical interventions.
AI can help collect relevant data by guiding the patient in an automated virtual triad exchange and then selectively forwarding it to an enterprise-scale contact center. At that point, skilled clinicians can receive the interaction without losing any data in the process.
Across the United States, there is a shortage of clinicians in many service lines. If it’s not an emergency, AI technology can start interacting with the patient, digitally freeing up clinical resources for other tasks.
Virtual care and digital front doors combined with technologies like AI and NLP offer a new promise in terms of streamlining the efficiency and effectiveness of the patient journey.
Creating easier, easier experiences today leads to more brand loyalty and patient satisfaction tomorrow. The digital front door is one of the most powerful tools that enables organizations to improve access to care and increase patient satisfaction.