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Healthcare Industry Trends: Growing Use of Telehealth and Digital Front Doors

December 3, 2021
Doctor using telehealth and digital front doors

If the last few years are any indication, healthcare organizations will leverage more telehealth and digital front door technology to run more efficiently and deliver higher-quality care to patients.

As part of our new eBook, “4 Widespread Healthcare Industry Trends & How Finance Teams Can Embrace Them,” we explain what these technologies are, why they’re widely used, and how they may affect the finance profession and accounts payable (AP) automation next year.

After reading more about digital front doors and telehealth in this blog, make sure to download the full report to learn about the trends primed to impact the healthcare industry.

Telehealth goes mainstream

Telehealth encompasses a broad range of digitally enabled healthcare services. A classic example: a doctor conducts a patient meeting over a video call rather than face-to-face in an office.

The telehealth trend is on the rise – to say the least. The use of telehealth has soared to levels 38 times higher than before the pandemic began, according to a McKinsey report.

Going forward, an estimated 40 percent of surveyed consumers believe they’ll continue to use telehealth – a striking jump from 11 percent who used telehealth before COVID-19, the report noted. This trend is so overwhelming that McKinsey predicts telehealth could account for 20 percent, or $250 billion, of U.S. healthcare spending.

Why such rapid growth? Predominantly because it improves the daily working lives of healthcare pros.

Consider this: Nearly all respondents to a PwC Healthcare Research Institute survey – 94 percent of healthcare provider executives, 92 percent of life sciences executives and 91 percent of health plan executives – said improving the clinician experience ranks high on their list of corporate priorities.

Digital technology – ‘the antidote to countless pain points’

“Digital technology, if made right, could be the antidote to countless pain points physicians encounter every day, leading to more efficient and satisfied doctors, happier patients, and more patient referrals,” according to PwC.

Now with telehealth mainstream because of the pandemic, physicians are challenged to blend virtual and face-to-face care in more widespread ways.

“The pandemic broke down longstanding barriers and accelerated digital health at a pace few could have imagined. Most (healthcare pros) welcomed the breakthrough and wondered why it had taken so long,” said Hero Digital, a digital experience consultant. “Even as people trickle back in for visits and procedures, it’s clear there’s no going back to care-as-usual.”

Rise of ‘digital front doors’

This growth in the telehealth market aligns with, and relates to, increased use of a new type of healthcare called “digital front doors.” These deliver seamless, frictionless and value-added technology.

Tapping into customer engagement channels such as websites, smartphones, notebook PCs and wearable devices, these digital access points encompass all the methods healthcare pros use to communicate digitally with patients.

For example, patients can make payments online and set appointments on provider websites quickly and easily. When they enter a healthcare facility, they can check-in online without waiting for a receptionist.

Hyro, an adaptive communications platform, points out that “a digital front door should optimize the patient journey at every touchpoint, allowing consumers to interact with healthcare providers in the way they prefer. A considerable element of this is rolling out digital experiences that have a low barrier to entry. We mean digital products that consumers know how to use because they already use them every day.”

Key digital front door component: conversational artificial intelligence

One of the main components of a digital front door is conversational artificial intelligence (AI), according to Hydro. Using this technology, customers can access the exact healthcare services they need anytime. When sick, for example, patients can go to their healthcare provider’s website and talk to the conversational AI that, based on their preferences, will book an appointment with the most appropriate doctor.

“The digital front door represents a radical shift towards a new and permanent way of managing the patient experience,” according to Hyro.

Research supports this insight. According to McKinsey’s report, between 40 and 60 percent of consumers have expressed interest in using digital front doors.

Final thoughts

With next year just over the horizon, you’ll want to make sure your finance department takes advantage of the benefits of telehealth and digital front doors.

At the same time, it’s important to consider where automating your AP invoice and payment processes can fit into the larger, digital picture for your business.

A digital technology, AP automation aligns with the growing deployment and use of digital telehealth services and digital front doors. Digitizing invoices and payments will be one of the most valuable ways to capitalize on the powerful capabilities and growing use of telehealth and digital front doors. The more you know about why this is so and the faster your shift to AP automation, the better you’ll be able to execute an effective, corporate-wide digital strategy.

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