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Searching for the Key to the New Front Door to Healthcare

By Clive Riddle, November 2, 2018

Oliver Wyman’s just released 2018 consumer healthcare survey report: Waiting for Consumers, appropriately includes a picture of a door on its cover, as the headline on the second page of narrative reads “The New Front Door, Try It, You’ll Like It.” The report concludes that “those who have tried alternative forms of healthcare delivery are happy with them” and “despite that finding, there hasn’t been much change in the number of consumers – about 10 percent – who have actually used the new front door, though the number who say they are willing to try is rising sharply.”

A very meaningful insight, no doubt – but I got stuck at the new front door. What rock have I been hiding under (a large one evidently) that I haven’t been fully immersed in discussion of healthcare’s new front door? I like doors. I like new things. I would very much would have liked to have been in on hearing all about healthcare’s new front door back when discussing the door was still new, and not evidently, when everyone who is anyone has been talking about the new front door for some time.

So I set out to find out all about healthcare’s new front door, and what awaits behind it. The Oliver Wyman report enlightened me that the door is constructed of retail clinics and telehealth, but not enough people are walking through it yet, although many are thinking about taking the plunge. They state “what has changed since our last survey is consumer willingness to try new kinds of health services. For example as shown in Exhibit 3, almost 40 percent of consumers in our 2018 survey said they would be comfortable receiving treatment for minor medical issues through a retail clinic, and 35 percent of consumers would receive that care through telehealth – in both casesan increase of 12 percentage points since 2015 when we asked consumers this same question.”

So clearly Oliver Wyman has been working with this door for several years. I wanted to find out more. Two seconds later, my first google search yielded their March 2016 report entitled The New Front Door to Healthcare is Here, which tells us: “over the past few years, there has been much discussion about the need for a ‘new front door to healthcare.’ In general, this refers to moving certain types of care out of the emergency room and doctor’s office and delivering it through more convenient means, such as a retail clinic, urgent care center, or telehealth.” 

So now we know about the old front door being replaced. In particular, the emergency room has borne that label for considerable time. That old front door can be expensive, and take a heck of a lot of time to get through.

The 2016 Oliver Wyman report goes on to say that “The ‘new front door’ is not about replicating today’s healthcare system in a more convenient setting. Instead, the new front door is about bolstering today’s healthcare system with a variety of consumer-friendly access points. The new front door is multi-dimensional (urgent care centers, retail health clinics, telehealth consultations, mobile apps). It is very clear that individually, none of these can deliver the full promise of the new front door. In fact, if offered as individual point solutions, consumer experience, health outcomes, and cost could suffer. An integrated new front door strategy, however, holds tremendous promise for consumers, payers, providers, and retailers alike.” Oliver Wyman had knocked on the door in previous years as well, such as this July 2015 piece: How Healthcare's New Front Door is Opening Up Opportunities.

But after leaving their thoughtful reports, I encountered a number of doors, like a contestant on the old Let’s Make a Deal Show:

  1. CEOs of CVS Health, Aetna say merger will offer new front door to healthcare
  2. Could Alexa Become the New Front Door to Healthcare?
  3. By Opening a Front Door to Care, Telehealth Will Finally (Finally) Take Off

Then as I pondered which door to choose, I learned the front door might be from those sci-fi or paranormal films, where it shifts all around while you attempt to enter it, as I was told How Healthcare Leaders Adapt to the Evolving Front Door to Care.

Which finally led me to read that Patients might need map to find 'front door' to health care, as the story asks “what and where is the real "new front door to health care in America?"

I will continue my quest searching for the key.


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