The patient registration process needs to be as simple as possible for everyone involved, from patients to practice staff and providers. The rise of healthcare consumerism has expanded care access to big-box retail stores like CVS,Walgreens, and Walmart further accelerating the need for a seamless registration experience. Today, it’s an absolute must for practices to avoid losing patients to competitors.
However, the unfortunate reality is that registration and check-in is often considered the most tedious stage of the patient journey. It also happens to be at the beginning of the care experience—which means that getting it right is critical to retain existing patients and maintain a positive reputation to attract new ones.
So, what does the ideal patient registration look like? It’s fast, easy, and runs smoothly without any roadblocks getting in the way. To make that happen, healthcare practices need to invest in the right digital solutions to simplify workflows, improve data collection, and work more efficiently as a result. Evaluating your own patient registration processes to see how they measure up? Here are some steps you can take:
1. Assess your waiting room.
First, assess your waiting room: Do you have a backlog? Experience significant delays? If so, this is a surefire indication that your patient registration and check-in processes need work. Getting it right is essential to prevent patients from leaving your practice for another healthcare organization.
As a matter of fact, a survey on the impact of long wait times on patient satisfaction revealed that 84 percent of respondents stated a reasonable wait time was somewhat or very important for a quality experience. What’s more, 30 percent have left appointments because their wait time was too burdensome.
If you think your wait times are less than ideal—the average across specialties and geographic locations is 18 minutes—you may want to rethink some of your existing patient registration processes. By taking advantage of modern healthcare technology, you can automate time-consuming tasks and avoid waiting room backlogs that can cause patients to jump ship.
2. Review your digital capabilities.
Speaking of technology, the next step to evaluating your registration process is to assess your digital capabilities. Can your patients register online, or are they still filling out paper forms at the office? Digital registration using a modern solution offers patients a convenient way to fill out forms prior to their visit and schedule appointments from their preferred device, on their own time.
That’s why a number of healthcare practices are adopting paperless registration and using technology to streamline processes. Not only does this make it more efficient for staff, but it also significantly decreases wait times for patients. (Plus, in the COVID-19 era, nobody wants to fill out paper forms with a germ-covered clipboard and pen!)
3. Reflect on practice workflows.
Next, evaluate your practice’s existing workflows, and pinpoint potential areas for improvement. Taking advantage of healthcare technology to automate manual tasks is the first step, but it’s not the only one—you also need to make smart use of that technology to reap the full rewards. Each of your platforms should be integrated and talking to each other to ensure information flows freely between them.
The alternative is manually entering patient-collected data into an electronic health record (EHR), which is redundant and prone to errors. In other words, it’s not enough to have an EHR solution. Instead, consider digitizing your patient registration and intake processes and with your integrated system, sync all collected data with your EHR. When digital solutions work together seamlessly, information is synced with ease—and the registration process becomes dynamic.
4. Identify hang-ups in the process.
Finally, you can identify any hang-ups in your current patient registration workflows. Can you easily access patient data via your system, or does it take time to find? Do you spend a lot of time on the phone for insurance verification eligibility? Does your practice have many no-shows that throw off your process?
By identifying any challenges and potential barriers to offering a solid, efficient registration process, you can improve the experience for patients and prevent them from being dissatisfied and potentially seeking healthcare elsewhere.
Using Technology to Transform Patient Registration
Healthcare consumers today not only want, but also expect, access to self-service digital tools for patient registration and check-in, appointment scheduling, and beyond. Embracing (and making the best possible use of) technology will make it easy for your patients to complete the necessary check-in and registration forms electronically, from the comfort of their own home and on their own time.
COVID-19 has compelled medical practices to further embrace technology and reimagine workflows with touchless patient intake and check-in. Patients complete check-in and registration forms prior to their visit. On the day of their appointment, they text you from their car when they arrive and you text them when it’s time to enter the office. No time spent in a waiting room. No unnecessary exposure. It’s efficient, consumer-friendly and safe.
And that’s not all—there are many other benefits to digitizing the patient intake process and using technology to streamline workflows, improve processes, and offer the best care experience possible for patients.