The digital front door has become the common name in the healthcare industry for a mobile website or application that unifies the patient experience and connects patients to care across the continuum.
In short, a digital front door connects and scales the virtual care journey to give patients what they need, when they need it.
The trend toward self-service in healthcare was already underway when COVID hit, and the pandemic sharply accelerated the demand for digital access to healthcare information. Appointment scheduling is one important aspect of a digital front door experience, and studies find that 40% of appointments are booked after business hours, and 67% of patients prefer online booking. Further, $150 billion annually is estimated as the annual loss from missed medical appointments. (source)
Some of our company’s earliest and most enduring clients have been healthcare organizations, and we’ve noticed three keys to success when developing and deploying a digital front door.
Key to success: Get the right stakeholders involved
“This is more than a digital shift – the shift to a digital front door requires a culture shift within the organization,” says Yuri Brigance, Valence’s director of software engineering.
Experience has taught us that having the right people in the room can make all the difference in the success or failure of a major initiative. Especially considering the role that change management plays here – People don’t resist change, they resist being changed. So you need to engage stakeholders from all impacted groups, from frontline workers to back-office operations. This will improve requirements documentation, roadmap planning, and buy-in as the work rolls out.
Key to success: Users Drive the Design Strategy
“While a digital front door is a technology solution, it’s ultimately about humanizing the patient experience,” says Sam To, designer at Valence.
In the case of a digital front door, the users may be patients, families of patients, or healthcare providers. In nearly all scenarios, people value products that are easy to use, simple to set up, and have a logical progression. This is especially true in a healthcare situation, which may be hypercharged by personal and situational stressors.
Equitable design should be at the forefront of design decisions because the healthcare organization needs to design for a wide array of users and needs. You can read more about our approach to equitable design here.
The design phase of the digital front door project should include user interviews, feedback sessions, prototyping, and more. Giving the UX design team access to users early in the process can help to identify the best-case rollout strategy, reveal opportunities to differentiate from competitors, and deliver precisely the right content to users when they need it – all leading to better patient satisfaction scores.
Key to success: Develop a feature roadmap and strategy for rolling out updates
“When embarking on a digital effort in healthcare, it’s important to start by understanding which changes you need to see in the organization. Are you pursuing improved patient satisfaction scores? Physician satisfaction? ED/Urgent Care wait times? Quality and safety scores? Each area targeted for improvement may influence priorities differently,” says Malia Jacobson, healthcare content strategist at Valence.
Many healthcare providers are leaning into digital solutions to address patient satisfaction, reduce service demand, and reduce administrative overhead. In addition to standard features of a digital front door experience, providers should consider designing for experiences such as:
Self-scheduling and care coordination
Find a provider
Infectious disease tracking
Privacy and security to safeguard patient data
Strategies to increase adoption, such as gamification and push notifications
Support for population health initiatives
Analytics and insights to derive more value from data
AI features, such as chatbots, to reduce clinical burden and improve patient flow
Support for healthcare information exchange in compliance with FHIR standards and best practices.
It’s important to understand how these features interplay as part of a big picture roadmap with a rollout timeline and strategy. You don’t have to release everything at one time to be successful, and adding features as the platform develops and collects user feedback will future-proof the effort.
In closing, healthcare has always been heavily impacted by technology, but the patient experience lagged behind other healthcare innovations. That is changing.
By joining forces, Valence and MajorKey offer an even greater set of cloud services for businesses that want to power their digital transformation with cloud technologies.
MajorKey works with clients to migrate business applications to the cloud, and Valence builds services on the cloud. This is one reason these businesses are such a powerful combined force.
The cloud refers to software and services that run on a (usually) regionally located server owned by the cloud service provider, instead of on an on-premise server owned by a customer. Cloud servers are in data centers all over the world. By using cloud computing, companies don’t have to manage physical servers or run software applications on their own machines.
It’s big business. In fact, one of our partners, AWS contributed 14.5% of revenue to Amazon’s overall business in 2021, which would have operated at a $1.8 billion loss in Q4 without it – and AWS revenue was up nearly 39% compared to 2020.
There are many ways to use and understand the business impact of cloud technology. We are breaking down the distinction between cloud services and cloud migration for you here!
Cloud Migration and Cloud Services
Simply put, cloud migration is what happens when a company moves some or all of its software onto cloud servers.
In other words, cloud migration is moving your software to a managed server operated by the cloud provider; and cloud services are technology solutions built on top of those managed servers. There’s a whole range of capabilities bridging the two.
Let’s take a closer look.
Cloud services range in how much they abstract away from the customer. A good example is Amazon Cognito, which is a user management cloud service. Amazon Cognito has implementations of basic user functions such as login, logout, sessions, and security, so a customer doesn’t have to worry about a deeper technical implementation of these features and can focus on managing users.
Cloud services are so flexible that there are seemingly infinite ways to deploy them for a business. Cloud services are the infrastructure, platforms, and software hosted by cloud providers, and there are three common solutions:
Infrastructure as a service: The renting out of virtual machines and space to customers, while providing a way to remotely manage the resource. When a company migrates to the cloud, they are using this service.
Platforms: Providers like AWS and Azure build specialized software on top of their own cloud hardware and offer the software to customers as a service. These are specialty services and can provide patterns for things such as Data Analysis, Compute, IoT, APIs, Security, Identity, and Containerization. We wrote about Digital Twins in a previous post, which referenced Digital Twin platforms offered by AWS and Azure.
Software as a service (SaaS): Software can be built on top of the platforms offered by the cloud providers. Software developers can also partner with other third parties to provide fully built instances of software that typically come with subscription rates, customer support, and personal configurations of the software. Examples of this include Atlassian Jira and Confluence, Dropbox, Salesforce, and G suite.
These services can be transformative for businesses in general, but it’s not always easy to know the best way for your business to use them. The added benefits to this migration range per case, and here are four examples:
Scalability: Cloud services often offer on demand scaling options that can satisfy unexpected or planned growth. Depending on your product, this can be a lot easier than upgrading on-premise hardware, but not always cheaper.
Cost: Although we expect the costs to be passed to the consumer in some way, the logistics of maintenance and upgrades to the cloud systems is handled by the provider. In many cases this can translate to a huge amount of money saved for the customers.
Performance: Performance enhancing services like CDNs and regional hosting, when understood and configured properly, can have tangible and positive performance impacts.
Local Management: Being on the cloud means access to the digital portals to manage the services (most times). This creates a lower bar of entry for employees to manage and observe the resources.
Many businesses start their digital transformation journey by migrating infrastructure or applications from on-premises servers to the cloud. Notably, cloud migration can also refer to a situation where a business needs to bring the cloud resources they manage into an on-premises environment. It can also describe a situation where a business moves its data resources from one cloud provider to another.
Cloud migration to use cloud services is a process that presents many upsides, and is worth investigating! The process will add additional complexities – specifically, security and governance will generally be instituted upfront as a base for the rest of the migration. We design and engineer performant, scalable, and maintainable applications that save businesses money, fill in knowledge gaps, and provide users with a positive experience.
Here are two examples of cloud services that we’ve built for clients:
Building cloud applications with AWS lambda: We have bridged the gap between multiple third-party APIs and created new databases that consolidate data and deliver it to a web application. Cloud services remove the need for our clients to interact with these multiple services, which saves them time and money. At the same time, we used AWS Cognito to help our customer manage roles and users in a secure and trusted way. This removed the need for our engineers to write our own user management software, a cumbersome task.
Data pipelines: We identify problems in our customers’ current database providers and migrate data to a more performant and better structured database in cloud-to-cloud migrations.
We will continue to build and migrate while we investigate the future of the cloud. What are the new services and platforms? Who can benefit the most from them? How can we do it right? We will be prepared for the cloud migration and services needed from the real world to the metaverse, and beyond.
The Right Data Retention Policy for Your Organization
by Steven Fiore
Every business needs a strategy to manage its data, and that strategy should include a plan for data retention. Before setting a data retention policy, it’s important to understand the purpose of the policy and how it can contribute to organizational goals.
There are four values that drive most businesses to do anything:
To make money and increase revenue
To save money by decreasing costs
Because they must comply with regulations
Because they want to use the business as a platform for social good
While each of these values will be represented in any organization, some investigation will usually reveal that one or two of these values outshine the rest. Which values are most important will vary from one organization to another.
Organizations need to start by clearly stating the goals of their data policy, and then build a policy that supports those goals. We help companies unearth business drivers so data policies can contribute to the company values and goals rather than compete with them.
In this post, we explore best practices in establishing and maintaining a data retention policy through the lens of these business drivers.
What are the goals of your data retention policy?
Value: Make Money
Companies that rely on advertising revenue like Google and Facebook want to keep as much data as necessary to maximize revenue opportunities.
Companies that mine their data can spot trends in their data that inform product enhancements, improve customer experience (driving brand loyalty), and reveal revenue opportunities that would have otherwise been hidden.
In both cases, the data retention policy should focus on what data can contribute to revenue, and how much of it is needed. Balancing aggregate data versus more granular data is the key so you retain enough data to achieve your objectives without retaining unneeded data that adds cost, complexity, and security or privacy risks.
Value: Save Money
Many businesses focus on the bottom line and prioritize efficiency to avoid wasting time, money, and energy.
Businesses that want to save money can use data retention to make the organization more efficient. While data storage is inexpensive, it isn’t free – and access can be more expensive than storage. So, for an organization that wants its data policies to help save money, the policy might focus on retaining only the data that is necessary to avoid extra storage and management overhead.
Further, retaining more data than you need to can be a legal liability. Having a data retention and disposal policy can reduce legal expenses in the event of a legal discovery process.
There’s also an efficiency cost to data – the more data you have, the slower the process will be to search and use that data. So, data retention policies can and should be part of a data governance strategy aimed at making the data that is retained as efficient to manage and use as possible.
Value: Comply with Regulations
Many industries have their own regulations while some regulations cross industries. Businesses that must have a data retention policy may need it to comply with laws that govern data retention such as the Sarbanes Oxley Act, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), or IRS 1075. Even US-based companies may be subject to international legislation such as the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and companies that have customers in California need to understand how the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) can impact data retention. Government agencies in the US are also bound by the Freedom of Information Act and some states have “Sunshine” laws that go even further.
Businesses that are motivated to comply with regulations will need their data retention policy to reflect federal, state, and local requirements, and will need to document compliance with those requirements.
Value: Business as a Platformfor Social Good
Whether an organization was established as an activist brand or has been drawn to social responsibility as investor demand has risen social responsibility, many companies are finding ways to use data to understand their social and environmental impact. This impact is often also reported on through Environmental Social Governance (ESG) reporting, Carbon Disclosure Projects, and reporting structures like GRESB (Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark).
In these cases, organizations that use their business as a platform for social good, may identify key metrics such as energy consumption or hiring data that can be used to inform reports on social responsibility.
By understanding your organization’s values and priorities, you can ensure that its policies support those values. Every company has data to collect, manage, and dispose of, so it’s critical to have a roadmap for how to address data requirements today and into the future. This framework is a starting point to that effort because there’s nothing worse than going through the effort to implement a complex policy, only to discover that it moves the business further from its goals.