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Piedmont’s evolving digital front door strives to engage patients and staff

Piedmont’s digital front door approach reflects a focus on business requirements for new tech and creative leveraging of new partnerships.
By admin
May 5, 2022, 7:54 AM

Even with a solid head start on its “digital front door” and invaluable experience gained from the COVID-19 pandemic, Piedmont Healthcare is still working to optimize for patients and staff. The 22-hospital integrated delivery system serving communities throughout Georgia is continuing to build out its existing digital transformation framework.

Piedmont began working on its “digital front door” in 2015, with plans to tie together its consumer-facing app, organizational website and patient portal. COVID upended the norm, forcing a rapid cultural shift from in-person office visits to a remote workforce and a priority need to keep the public informed about care capabilities. When vaccines became available, Piedmont’s self-service scheduling and registration functions streamlined employee and patient vaccinations. And when Piedmont re-opened it facilities for elective procedures, outbound communications advised patients about safety measures in place and how to reschedule delayed appointments, while contactless registration scaled out across more than 700 departments.

“It was all about meeting consumers where they are and trying to find the right options for care,” explained Katie Logan, Piedmont’s chief consumer and strategic planning officer.

Building a digital front door

At the same time, healthcare consumer expectations and market dynamics have changed dramatically since the project’s early days, according to Jen Melby, Piedmont’s executive director of consumer experience and digital information. “Virtual care, convenience and transparency are nearing ‘table stakes,’” added Melby. “Staffing shortages and burnout have further shifted patient interactions to a digital-first approach.

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Moreover, even though Piedmont has reached the 90th percentile in benchmarks for online scheduling, portal adoption and contactless registration, “competitors now operate from the same playbook,” Melby noted. Piedmont plans to differentiate itself by increasing patient and consumer adoption of its digital offerings in three ways:

  1. Fostering increased use of digital tools by staff through employee incentives and training. More engaged staff will more effectively engage patients in the use of available digital tools.
  2. Reaching consumers through an external brand campaign highlighting Piedmont’s “hassle-free” patient experience.
  3. Using a customer relationship management system to personalize patient communications with targeted calls to action.

From a technology standpoint, Piedmont intends to strengthen integration between its consumer app and patient portal. For example, users will be able to move from an appointment reminder to wayfinding services in two clicks, a process that formerly took 5 clicks. Additionally, Piedmont will continue to refine its app with shortcuts accessible from the home screen so that users have one-stop access to scheduling, provider messaging, and lab results.

In the coming years, Piedmont’s strategy will further coalesce in ways that allow it to respond to regulatory requirements and digitally engage with providers in new ways. “We’re moving from point-to-point solutions and independent tools to more of a digital structure,” observed Melby. “Staff and patients will have bought into the same vision.”

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Logan noted that Piedmont’s success to date also reflects a sharp focus on business requirements for new technology, stakeholder involvement in vendor selection and creative leveraging of new partnerships. Meanwhile, independent physicians within Piedmont’s growing network will be encouraged to adopt the health system’s electronic health record system, which provides access to digital components such as the patient portal.

“We’re looking at patient needs and expectations and staying true to those factors from a design perspective,” Logan concluded. “Our goal is to have providers knocking on our door, wanting to join these programs because their patients are demanding it.”


Frank Irving is a Philadelphia-based content writer and communications consultant specializing in healthcare, technology and sports. 

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