Patient onboarding is the process of registering new patients and getting them oriented with your facility. If your onboarding process is outdated and clunky (i.e., it starts with a clipboard full of confusing, cumbersome paper forms), you’re likely diminishing the patient experience and damaging your first impression. If you’re onboarding effectively, new patients should quickly understand that your organization offers timely, convenient, and confidential care.
Consider how your patients interact with the world and dispense information in their day-to-day lives. They send text messages in lieu of voice-to-voice communication. They purchase clothes, toys, and even meals online. They apply for jobs via electronic applications. They take full advantage of the convenience technology provides in every other facet of their life, so why wouldn’t they expect the same from their doctor’s office?
To improve the patient experience at your health facility, begin by mastering patient onboarding. Show new patients that you respect their time and privacy by taking these three steps.
1: Adopt Digital Patient Onboarding Forms
Step away from the clipboard. There’s nothing more inefficient than onboarding patients with paper forms. 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. 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. The entire process is error-prone and tedious.
Online patient intake forms are a much simpler solution. Allowing patients to complete onboarding forms online, before they ever enter your office, can do wonders for your health facility. Online forms boast higher completion rates with fewer errors and greater security. They drastically reduce the time required for administrative processing. Best of all, you won’t fall behind schedule when the first patient of the day is still filling out onboarding forms 20 minutes into her appointment time. Online forms truly streamline the entire onboarding process.
Your patients benefit, 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 paperwork (or becoming frustrated because someone else took extra time to fill out the forms). Plus, digital forms can be customized for convenience, which helps to de-clutter hefty medical forms.
2: Accept Electronic Signatures
Obviously HIPAA compliance is a critical factor in patient onboarding. 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 accelerate the processing of these consent forms, consider accepting electronic signatures. E-signatures promote paperless onboarding, streamlining the process and cutting the necessary time and effort of staff and patients.
3: Reduce Patient Flow Bottlenecks
Patient flow is the way 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 move through your organization. The more efficient your flow, the more time you’ll have to focus on care, and the higher your patient satisfaction will be.
Data automation is the key to perfecting patient flow. New patients are typically required to submit a heap of data—basic identifying information, medical history, insurance validation, etc. Routing this information, collected with online forms, to the necessary database allows you to validate insurance and plan treatment before a patient arrives for his appointment. Expediting administrative tasks gets your patients in front of a care provider faster, which sets your office up for a seamless patient flow.
Creating a paperless patient onboarding process streamlines the time and effort required by your facility and greatly enhances the patient experience.
Chris Byers is the CEO of Formstack, an Indianapolis-based company offering an online form and data-collection platform. Prior to Formstack, Byers co-founded an international nonprofit that was built via remote relationships among partners in Europe, Africa, and the United States.
Chris Byers, CEO, Formstack