Building a digital front door to weather the COVID-19 pandemic

The U.S. healthcare system may be among the best in the world, but the COVID-19 pandemic exposed major shortcomings in our ability to provide care in the face of a novel infection, wrote Kyruus CEO Graham Gardner in a recent article on the importance of a “digital front door” to help providers and health systems weather the current pandemic.

First, Gardner wrote, we must increase the availability of virtual care, both for COVID-19 patients and for those who need ongoing management of chronic illnesses that put them at increased risk of contracting the disease.

But in the long run, what really makes the difference between a health system’s or provider practice’s survival and failure is being able to provide comprehensive patient access for scheduling. Both virtual and in-person appointments should be bookable online so patients can self-schedule and avoid overwhelming administrative and clinical operation support services on the phone. Numerous health systems and group practices over the last few years have successfully modernized their “digital front doors” with consumer-friendly care search and scheduling offerings, Gardner wrote, such as those provided by Kyruus.

The best platforms offer clinical keyword-based search functionality and enable patients to filter search results based on a variety of criteria. This type of search technology also offers the ability to designate different destinations for different kinds of services, such as triaging a cough to a different care setting (e.g., urgent care vs. doctor’s office).

Gardner said that two types of integration are particularly important: first, the website and online scheduling platform should be tied to other channels of access, such as the front office phone and physician referral lines.

Second, within the digital front door—whether this “front door” is provided by Kyruus or another company—practices should integrate online scheduling with other technology that can facilitate accurate routing and delivery of care. One example of this is virtual assistants (also known as chatbots) that can help patients get the right care by having them answer a series of questions.

“A robust and integrated digital front door, combined with a strategy that facilitates access to both traditional and virtual visits, represents a key step in helping to ensure we continue to deliver the exceptional care that our patients deserve,” Gardner concluded.

Read the full article here.