Handing patients a pen and clipboard when they arrive for an appointment is so 2010. In today’s digital world, patients expect a digital experience.
While your practice is likely leveraging automation in a lot of different ways, the patient experience prior to arrival is one area that can often be overlooked. If your patients book an appointment and their next interaction with you is when they show up for said appointment, you’re missing a key opportunity for patient engagement.
A digital patient intake process is a great way to keep patients engaged before their appointment, not to mention the fact that it helps you collect important clinical and financial information. So whether you are looking at investing in digital patient intake technology for the first time, or trying to find ways to optimize the technology that you already have, here are four tips for optimizing your digital patient intake process.
TIP #1: DON’T MAKE PATIENTS REMEMBER ANOTHER PASSWORD
While today’s patients want a digital experience, what they do not want is yet another username and password to remember. A good patient intake process should allow patients to complete the process without having to register or log into a portal. This can be done securely through other authentication methods such as birthday verification.
TIP #2: MAKE SURE THE DIGITAL PATIENT INTAKE PROCESS IS EASY TO FOLLOW
The way information is presented during the digital intake process should be focused on driving the desired behavior – a completed check in. And while this is not an earth-shattering revelation, you’d be surprised by how easy it is to let little things creep into the digital intake process that can negatively impact the patient experience.
Here are a few good questions to ask yourself about the process:
- Is the text clear and legible?
- Is the language simple and straightforward?
- Do the colors and fonts feel professional or distracting?
- Is it easy to understand how to move to the next step in the process?
- Are patients being asked to enter the same information multiple times?
A great litmus test here is to try it out the process for yourself and ask some friends and family to do the same. If only your most tech-savvy testers can get through the intake process, then you have a problem.
TIP #3: TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE INTAKE PROCESS TO IMPROVE YOUR COLLECTION RATE
According to MGMA, most providers mail a minimum of three statements before a patient account is sent to collections. One of the main ways you will see a return on investment from patient intake technology is by collecting patient copays and past due balances (when applicable) in advance.
When your digital patient intake process clearly presents co-pays and past due balances with an easy, secure option to pay right then and there, not only will you improve collection rates, but you’ll also improve the patient experience. And while this is not an exact application of the No Surprises Act, it’s certainly in the spirit of the Act which is focused on providing increased transparency to patients around what they owe for medical visits.
TIP #4: ALWAYS BE OPTIMIZING
Even the best processes will have room for improvement. It’s important to have visibility into how your intake process is performing so you can understand how to continue to optimize it on an ongoing basis.
For example: when patients abandon the check in process, at what point are they falling off? If you’re losing a large percentage of patients on a particular form or question, you should consider either redesigning or eliminating it altogether. Other key metrics to consider are the average time to complete a check in, the average amount collected and the average number of forms each patient is asked to complete. Make it a habit to regularly review metrics and update your process as needed.