In healthcare, first impressions are vital (see what I did there?). But seriously, a person’s first encounter with your facility can make or break his decision to become your patient. Healthcare is extremely personal and often invasive, so it’s important to do what you can to put people at ease and lessen their burden—starting with the onboarding process.
Patient onboarding involves getting new patients registered and oriented with your facility. If your onboarding process is clunky and antiquated (i.e., it starts with a clipboard full of cumbersome paper forms), you’re likely dimming the patient experience and damaging your first impression. If you’re doing onboarding right, new patients should quickly get a sense that your organization offers convenient, timely, and confidential care.
But how do you get there?
It’s actually easier than you might think. Consider how your patients interact with the world and dispense information in other circumstances. They apply for jobs via an electronic job application. They purchase clothes, toys, and even meals online. They send text messages in lieu of voice-to-voice communication. In short, they take full advantage of the convenience technology provides. So why shouldn’t they expect the same accommodations at the doctor’s office?
If you’re looking to improve the patient experience at your health facility, start by mastering patient onboarding. Show new patients that you respect their time and privacy by taking these 3 steps:
Step 1: Adopt Digital Patient Onboarding Forms
Step away from the clipboard. Seriously.
There’s really nothing more inefficient than onboarding patients with paper forms. Think about it. You’re asking people who are likely rushed, stressed, or sick to sit in a crowded waiting room and fill out a stack of intake forms. This means their handwriting likely won’t be fully legible, or they’ll inadvertently omit information. Then, someone from your office has to scan the form or manually enter the patient information into your database. Talk about a tedious, error-prone process!
Luckily, there’s a simple solution: online patient intake forms. Allowing patients to complete onboarding forms online (before they ever enter your office) can do wonders for your health facility. For starters, online forms boast higher completion rates with fewer errors and greater security. Additionally, they don’t require manual entry, so administrative processing time is greatly reduced. And best of all, you won’t get behind schedule when the first patient of the day is still filling out onboarding forms 20 minutes after her appointment time.
It’s a big win for your patients, too. They can complete the necessary intake forms on their own time without feeling rushed. And they don’t have to spend extra time in the waiting room filling out forms (or waiting because someone else took extra time to fill out the forms). Plus, digital forms can be customized for convenience—features like Conditional Logic can hide fields that aren’t relevant, and dropdown lists can help de-clutter hefty medical forms.
Step 2: Accept Electronic Signatures
I can’t talk about patient onboarding without mentioning HIPAA compliance. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 mandates that healthcare organizations have safeguards in place to protect sensitive patient information. This means health facilities collect a lot of patient signatures.
New patients, in particular, may be asked to sign the following:
- Notice of privacy practices
- Consent for treatment
- Consent for release of medical records
To speed up the processing of these consent forms, consider accepting electronic signatures. E-signatures promote paperless onboarding, which streamlines the process and cuts the time and effort needed from staff and patients.
Step 3: Reduce Patient Flow Bottlenecks
Patient flow is the way patients move from point A to point Z in your facility—in other words, how your facility manages patients from check-in to check-out. If your goal is to have happy patients who feel respected, you must concern yourself with how they flow through your organization. The more efficient your patient flow, the more time you’ll have to focus on patient care, and the higher your patient satisfaction will be.
The first step to perfecting patient flow is data automation. New patients are typically required to submit a heap of data—basic identifying information, medical history, insurance validation, etc. Collecting this patient information with online forms and routing it to the necessary database allows you to validate insurance and plan treatment before a patient arrives for his or her appointment. By expediting administrative tasks, you can get patients in front of a care provider sooner, which sets your office up for a seamless patient flow.
Master Patient Onboarding
Creating a paperless patient onboarding process can save your facility tons of time and greatly enhance the patient experience. And it doesn’t have to be hard. Formstack offers a HIPAA-compliant online form builder that does the heavy lifting for you! Click below to explore all the ways we can help you build a masterful patient onboarding process.