From the July 2017 issue of HealthCare Business News magazine
By Chris Byers
First impressions are vital in the health care industry.
A person’s initial encounter with your facility can make or break the decision to become your patient. Health care is extremely personal and often invasive, so it’s critical to do whatever you can to put people at ease and lessen their burden — starting with the onboarding process.
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Patient onboarding is the process of registering new patients and getting them oriented with your facility. If your onboarding process is clunky and outdated (starting with a clipboard full of confusing, cumbersome paper forms), you’re likely dimming the patient experience and damaging your first impression. If you’re onboarding effectively, new patients should quickly understand that your organization offers convenient, timely 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, start by mastering patient onboarding. Show new patients that you respect their time and privacy by taking the following three steps.
Adopt digital patient onboarding forms
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. 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. The entire process is tedious and error-prone.
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.
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 waiting because someone else took extra time to fill out the forms). Plus, digital forms can be customized for convenience, which helps to declutter hefty medical forms.