If you have needed care over the last couple of months during the COVID-19 pandemic, you likely have encountered a self-triage solution. These are designed to help you assess your symptoms and determine the next best step, which may include a setting of care. Conversely, if you are a healthcare organization (HCO), you likely have had to deploy a self-triage solution to stem the demand from patients seeking care. Prior to the pandemic, Forrester made the call that self-triage solutions were an area for investment for HCOs as they formalize their digital front door strategies.

While these solutions are not new in the healthcare industry, we have seen several new products enter the market in the past few months in response to the pandemic. These tools vary widely in their maturity and ability to support non-COVID-19 symptoms. Furthermore, usage has surged since the pandemic began. For example, in its first week of deployment in March, the Providence St. Joseph Health system in Seattle’s tool (powered by the Microsoft bot service) served more than 40,000 patients.

There are several near-term use cases where these solutions can be applied. Two of these use cases are:

  1. Connecting patients to virtual care. Our research shows that 23% of individuals are not confident in their ability to access virtual care. This lack of confidence is partly driven by not knowing where to start or even how to make an appointment. Self-triage provides a path for patients and members to assess symptoms, determine if virtual care is appropriate, and make an appointment if endpoint integration is enabled. Health insurers and employers should partner with self-triage vendors to provide guidance and address capability gaps in their virtual care strategy.
  2. Supporting the return-to-work effort. Employers can use these solutions to assess workers’ symptoms on a daily basis to conduct health checks in a scalable way. As two examples, we have seen Buoy Health and Orbita release capabilities specific to this use case.

In recognizing the immediate need of the industry, and the opportunity for organizations to quickly see ROI, Forrester fielded a user experience study with 119 users, across eight products, in order to identify where there are opportunities for improvement and what is working well.

Our research highlights that consumers want more capabilities from these tools, better guidance, and that specific design principles must be applied to improve consumer confidence in the advice delivered.

In our research, Optimize Self-Triage Tools To Help Consumers Today And Beyond COVID-19, we have laid out both near- and long-term recommendations to optimize these solutions for the pandemic and beyond.

What’s Next?

Andrew Hogan and I will be publishing videos for Forrester clients that showcase what is considered a good practice versus where there are opportunities to improve through design principles and data integration.

Have more questions? Forrester clients can set up an inquiry with Andrew and myself to learn more.

Not a Forrester client? Drop us a note at healthcare@forrester.com so we can talk about how we can support you and your organization.