Enhancing digital intake through patient-centered design

The proliferation of cloud-based digital apps and self-serve tools means patients have come to expect the same on-demand access, convenience and transparency from their healthcare provider that they experience outside the doctor’s office.

By Gianna Fornesi - February 26, 2021

In this blog series, we’re exploring 6 key lessons for modernizing the digital front door in a way that is complementary to, and not disruptive of existing workflows.

We’ve already covered how to transform the digital front door to create engaging digital patient experiences. Next, let’s talk about the importance of user-centered design when building a digital experience patients - and providers - will love.

The proliferation of cloud-based digital apps and self-serve tools means patients have come to expect the same on-demand access, convenience and transparency from their healthcare provider that they experience outside the doctor’s office. According to the 2019 Consumerization of Healthcare Study by Econsultancy and Adobe, 75% of consumers stated they wanted the same experience in healthcare that they get from other industries, such as retail, banking and travel. Thanks to intelligent automation, this level of 1:1 personalization is no longer out of reach. 

Look outside healthcare for inspiration on digital patient experience design

To achieve a meaningful ROI on digital patient intake, organizations should aim to drive a majority of their patients to engage with their digital offering. Unfortunately, many organizations report that less than a quarter of their patients engage with their existing digital intake offerings prior to visiting the clinic. As a result, some health systems have come to settle for 25% - 30% pre-visit digital intake completion as the upper limit for what can be realistically achieved. 

Rather than looking at what peer health systems have been able to accomplish, IT operations and digital innovation leaders should draw inspiration from the other digital services their patients use. By adopting the following best practices from companies like Uber, Amazon, and Netflix, we’ve seen health systems drive patient engagement and satisfaction that far exceeds industry benchmarks. 

Personalization. When a consumer opens the Amazon Shopping app, they are presented with a curated list of items they might be interested in based on demographic insights and purchase history. In contrast, when a patient engages with a paper intake form, a generic patient portal, or a digitized form template, they receive the same experience as everyone else, making them feel less ‘known’ by their doctor and less likely to engage. With intelligent automation, health systems can provide unique experiences for each patient based on their medical history, designed to capture exactly what’s needed to provide the best possible visit with their care provider. 

Remembered experiences. Imagine if every time a consumer wanted to call an Uber, they had to manually key in their home address and credit card information. It stands to reason that people would be much less inclined to use the service. Yet this is the exact same experience that most health systems provide their patients, requiring them to fill in the same information every time they visit their doctor. With so much information from previous encounters documented in the EHR, providers can use intelligent automation to pre-populate known information into their digital experiences. This way, patients just need to confirm their information - versus providing it from scratch for each visit - same as they do when they confirm their pick up address for an Uber.

Intuitive design. Progressive organizations like Intermountain Healthcare and CommonSpirit Health have shown how well-designed experiences from other industries can be translated to healthcare.  For example, both of these organizations have implemented OCR (optical character recognition), traditionally used to capture credit card numbers, for insurance card scanning, enabling patients to scan in their insurance details straight from their smartphone.  Likewise, these and other Notable customers have embedded digital co-pay into the registration process through the use of familiar user-friendly platforms like Apple Pay.  

Treat clinicians, staff and patients as equal constituents for your digital experience

Ironically, legacy digital intake solutions can introduce even more administrative overhead than a traditional paper-based workflow. For example, some digital patient intake solutions require staff to navigate to a different application or download a PDF to find information to be transcribed into an EHR, instead of simply copying it off of a paper form. 

Modern patient intake should decrease, not increase administrative burden for staff. By using technologies like Robotic Process Automation (RPA), health systems can take the inputs from a digital patient intake and automatically populate them into discrete fields in the EHR. Organizations using Notable, which employs such an approach, report that doing so can save over 500 hours of front desk staff and MA time per provider per year. This enables them to spend more time face to face with patients, improving the overall patient experience while increasing staff engagement. 

Implemented correctly, modern digital intake can also help alleviate administrative burden for clinicians. Austin Regional Clinic (ARC), uses Notable to send patients digital pre-visit intake questionnaires, personalized based on medical history. Using natural language processing, Notable transforms these inputs into a narrative history of present illness (HPI) and review of systems (ROS). Digital assistants, programmed to replicate EHR clicking and typing that would otherwise be performed by staff, automatically populate this note content into Epic, enabling the provider to more quickly prepare for their patient visit.

Failing to consider other key stakeholders like staff and providers increases digitally-induced burnout and reduces digital adoption in-clinic. By automating the meticulous process of patient intake on both the front and back ends, providers using Notable at ARC spend 50% less time in Epic during scheduled hours. Because of this, Notable reports an NPS provider score of 74 at ARC - on par with popular consumer brands like AirBnB, Netflix and Amazon.

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