Gatekeeping refers to a method of limiting access to something by discouraging interest in it. This can be achieved by expressing negative opinions or criticism of the subject matter with the intention of dissuading people from pursuing it. In some countries, such as France and Germany, policies of gatekeeping are implemented to restrict the choice of specialists by encouraging patients to consult with general practitioners before seeing specialists.
Because of the unappealing element of mandate attached to this model of gatekeeping, we use an alternative that we call Soft Gatekeeping. Soft Gatekeeping is a sustainable and mature approach to intervention that involves incentivisation rather than coercion. See Figure 1. Nuffield Intervention Ladder.
Digital health tools that give patients instant access to mental health, nutrition, and physical fitness resources, can help patients address their health issues before they become severe and reduce their reliance on traditional healthcare services.
Why Mental Health, Nutrition and Physical Fitness? Mental health issues are a growing concern, and many patients are hesitant to seek help due to the stigma surrounding mental illness. Digital health tools can provide patients with the pseudo-anonymity they need to seek help without feeling embarrassed or ashamed. This can help prevent mental health issues from becoming severe and reduce the need for expensive mental healthcare services.
Digital health tools can also offer patients nutritional guidance and personalized fitness training, which can help prevent chronic diseases and other health-related problems. By using these tools, patients can make informed decisions about their diet and lifestyle, leading to better health outcomes and a reduction in healthcare costs.
Another benefit of soft gatekeeping is its ability to provide patients with the convenience of accessing healthcare services anytime, anywhere. With digital health tools, patients can access the resources they need from the comfort of their own homes. This can be especially helpful for patients who live in rural or remote areas where access to traditional healthcare services is limited.
We believe that digital health tools should complement, not replace, traditional healthcare services. The human touch and expertise of healthcare professionals are still critical in providing patients with the care they need. Soft gatekeeping and digital health tools should be seen as a way to enhance the patient experience and promote a more sustainable healthcare system.