Welcoming patients through the digital front door 

September 23, 2022 Windstream Enterprise 5 min

Editor’s Note: Today’s healthcare patients want an efficient, convenient and compassionate customer experience, with first impressions proving critical in patient–provider relationships. Reliable, consistent communication is a must, and it starts with greeting patients at the “digital front door” in their chosen channel with Natural Language Understanding (NLU) powered Interactive Voice Response (IVR) solutions or virtual assistants ready to help with self-serve tasks such as registration or appointment scheduling. AI-supported automated self-service solutions further assist with prescription refills, password resets, bill pay and proactive outreach services to provide patients with a more connected and personalized healthcare experience.  

Patients feeling connected and enjoying more personalized care tend to take a more active role in their health and experience better results. Intelligent patient engagement technology provides modern healthcare professionals the means to stay connected, so choosing the right partner for reliable and secure digital connectivity couldn’t be more critical today. 


Intelligent engagement solutions allow healthcare providers to create a “digital front door,” offering patients a welcoming point of connection that puts them in control of their care and helps make the all-important first interaction a positive one.

When patients contact their healthcare providers, they look for efficiency, convenience and compassion. But often, the reality is far more clunky and impersonal when they find that an out-of-date phone system or a long hold queue are their only options.  

The secret to giving patients a more user-friendly experience and increasing engagement is to take a page from the corporate playbook. Emulating the modern conveniences patients get in other parts of their lives can help ensure frustration-free patient–provider relationships.   

The first interaction they have with an organization—whether it’s a retailer, a restaurant or a healthcare provider—is the most important. A poor initial experience can color the whole relationship. When patients seek information or support about something as personal (and potentially complex) as their health, there’s even less room for friction.  

Using intelligent patient engagement solutions, care providers can create a “digital front door” for their patients—a simple, convenient and welcoming point of connection that puts patients in control of their care.    

Effective patient engagement varies from channel to channel    

The digital front door will look different depending on how patients choose to access their provider’s services. For example, AI-powered interactive voice response (IVR) powered by natural language understanding (NLU) can greet callers and allow them to self-serve tasks within a conversational dialogue—without human intervention, long wait times, hold music, or complicated menu trees. This is ideal for patients who prefer the phone or don’t have easy access to the internet.      

An online virtual assistant powered by natural language understanding can offer patients assistance on a website, a messaging channel or even an app.    

But for those who choose online venues, a virtual assistant (VA)—also powered by natural language understanding (NLU)—can offer assistance on a website, messaging channel or even an app, guiding patients through everything from registration to appointment scheduling.   

Automated self-service for everyday tasks such as refilling prescriptions, resetting patient portal passwords, or paying bills helps patients efficiently manage the administrative components of their care while also taking the pressure off the office and clinical staff.      

Patients need reliable, consistent communication throughout their care journeys  

A simple, timely appointment reminder delivered through phone, SMS or even a patient’s preferred messaging platform can help ensure they don’t miss their appointment. And if they need to cancel or reschedule, they can handle it right there, replying in the same channel, which is faster, more convenient and available outside of office hours.  

Proactive outreach can also help increase patient preparedness by reminding them to bring a list of current medications or comply with fasting requirements ahead of a test or procedure.   

And it’s not just appointment schedules that benefit from proactive outreach—organizations can send care recommendations or reminders about preventative screenings or flu vaccinations, for example, and help their patients pursue good health.

Extending the digital front door      

For an even slicker patient experience, some clinics integrate their patient engagement solutions with other intelligent tools, creating an ecosystem where the patient has a personalized, connected experience at every stage of their care.  

By integrating with the CRM, EHR, and other management systems, providers can engage and support their patients more effectively from the moment they log on to the website or call the office.

Clinics are integrating patient engagement solutions with other intelligent tools to create an ecosystem where patients have personalized, connected experiences at every stage of care.     

AI-powered automation greets patients at the digital front door with a personalized experience tailored to their individual needs and based on their historical records. It can even use patient profile data to predict what a patient needs.   

AI then threads together individual channels and interactions to ensure information and context are preserved throughout the journey, so the patient never needs to repeat themselves.

From inception to outcome   

Patients who feel connected with their provider are more likely to actively participate in their care—sharing more details about their condition and needs, complying with treatment plans, and following advice. They’re more likely to schedule and attend appointments and be accountable for their behavior. In short, they’re more likely to see progress in their pursuit of good health and, in turn, have more satisfaction with the quality of their care.  

An effective patient engagement strategy takes the technological conveniences patients are accustomed to and replicates them in a healthcare context using intelligent solutions tailored for clinical use. With this modern approach to patient engagement, care providers create that all-important excellent first—and subsequent—impression for their patients, strengthening connections while providing quality care.  

This article was written by VP, Justin Jacobson, Patient Engagement Solutions at Nuance Communications and General Manager from HIT Consultant and was legally licensed through the Industry Dive Content Marketplace. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@industrydive.com

Cloud-optimized connectivity and network security solutions from Windstream Enterprise can help ensure patients receive the efficiency, convenience and compassion-filled healthcare experience they deserve.   

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Key takeaway

Healthcare organizations that take a page from the corporate playbook can provide a more user-friendly experience and increase engagement, helping to build frustration-free patient–provider relationships.  

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