A digital front door enables payers to improve member satisfaction, quality outcomes and costs. Where I come from, we call that a triple win.
As a health plan member and one who has worked in the healthcare industry for more than 30 years, I know payers have an acute customer satisfaction problem, one that complicates their efforts to activate members in their healthcare journey and successfully intervene to prevent disease exacerbation and avoidable costs.
For as long as I can recall, health plans have had the lowest satisfaction score of all industries – lower than airlines. With nearly half of members saying their plan failed to show concern for their health during the first surge of the COVID-19 pandemic, satisfaction numbers are expected to remain low.
In the words of James Beem, managing director, global healthcare intelligence at J.D. Power,
"Health plans are widely perceived as lacking a customer-centric mindset and not putting the best interests of their members first. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified these shortcomings, but they are not new. If traditional health insurance plans want to resist the threat from disruptors, they need to demonstrate partnership with members – and on behalf of employers – to improve member health, reduce costs and help members navigate the healthcare system."
Savvy health plans are choosing to invest in a digital front door strategy now.
The COVID-19 pandemic offers challenges and opportunities that point to now as the opportune time to invest in the digital front door.
As an unexpected consequence of the pandemic, in the first quarter of 2020, consumer healthcare spending dropped 18%. Ambulatory care visits declined nearly 60%. More than 60% of patients say they'll wait one to six or more months to access regular care due to fear of contracting COVID-19. In addition to general fears, patients face considerable financial constraints. More than three quarters (78%) say they would skip at least one medical visit due to cost concerns.
A personalized approach with a digital front door foundation can greatly increase members' comfort and willingness to return to routine and preventive care, much of which helps prevent disease exacerbation and the associated costs.
The decline in ambulatory, routine and even emergency care during the pandemic has meant a corresponding decrease in health insurance claims. Some health plans have chosen to issue premium rebates and credits as auto insurers have done. Others may be well-advised to invest in digital front door capabilities. As Deloitte Consulting principals wrote in a recent blog,
While the decreased volume of inbound claims is providing some temporary relief for health plans, we expect that this respite is temporary. We are advising our health plan clients to seize the day and move toward a digital/virtual front door that can allow them to more directly manage the care journey for their members.
Geneia's new white paper, It's high time health plans opened the digital front door: Why Health Plans Are Implementing a Digital Front Door Strategy, is a timely resource. In it, we define digital front door, present detailed examples of the strategy in action and discuss results. Whether the digital front door is a new or very familiar concept to you, this resource can help.