Bench International

The Front Door To A Digital Symphony

The Front Door To A Digital Symphony

Insight by: Tracy Donegan

If one were to ask the average person to identify the best aspects of healthcare in America, undoubtedly world-class technology would be one of the top responses. It is common to hear stories of people coming from many foreign countries to seek innovative treatments not available elsewhere.

Yet according to a recent AP-NORC poll, just 12% of adults think health care in general is handled very or extremely well in the United States[1].  Certainly, high costs of healthcare are of uppermost concern to many patients. Additionally, according to this same poll, having access to high-quality healthcare when needed is a particular concern to Black and Hispanic adults. The most technologically innovative treatments are of little use if patients do not have access to such treatments.

“Having access” is not as simple of a concept as it might seem.  Even if the entrance to a health center is unlocked, that does not in and of itself guarantee patients come through the door, let alone receive the right care at the right time. More importantly, merely opening the door to the clinic does not begin to address the complexities involved in addressing health equity as well as engaging patients in treatment.

Increasingly, health organizations are embarking on digital transformation strategies. One key strategy for patient engagement is the concept of the “Digital Front Door”.  Narrowly defined, a digital front door may refer to an initial virtual engagement with a healthcare system or provider.

Yet in a broader sense, it is a philosophic approach to digitally engaging the patient. In this writer’s view, digital front door is not a single solution, but rather a symphony of solutions unifying the patient’s digital experience.

For a symphony orchestra to be successful in producing beautiful music, each of the many musicians playing multiple instruments must perform well in their individual roles. Yet it also takes the skill of the conductor to seamlessly blend each of the individual parts for the result to be harmonious.

So too a successful digital front door strategy requires a harmonious blend of multiple technologies which are well-integrated, accessible from multiple channels, and easy to use. Just as a symphony orchestra requires a skilled conductor, the digital front door symphony requires cohesive interoperability across technologies and data. According to Gartner Research, it “cohesively ties together the ecosystem of new technologies and data, for example mHealth, portals, wearables, and telehealth”.

In a classical symphony such as Beethoven’s 5th, the leitmotif is introduced at the beginning, and is a recurrent theme throughout the musical composition. Similarly, the cohesiveness of a well thought out digital engagement strategy may then yield a consistent patient experience not only upon initial contact, but across the care continuum.

A high-level symphony may be complex in construction, but simply produces pleasant melodies. A well-constructed digital front door strategy engages the patient by simplifying their experience and providing “one-stop-shop” access to choose from multiple channels.

A high-level digital front door strategy may not solve all the nation’s healthcare issues. Yet, it does provide an effective tool to increase opportunities not only to initially engage the patient, but to enhance their overall healthcare experience.  While patients may not stand and shout “Bravo!”, no doubt enhancing their experience would be music to their ears.

[1] Center for Public Affairs Research. (September, 2022). “Support for Greater Government Role in Health Care for Older Adults” []