What is patient intake?
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The ability to ease out business processes and achieve overall success for your healthcare facility is something that lies in your hands. In order to deliver exceptional patient care, you must treat your patients nicely, and also train your staff to be courteous and helpful. Right from the moment a patient books an appointment with you to the time they visit your practice; it is your duty to make them feel comfortable and provide them with a good experience so that they don’t need to look for any other healthcare provider while considering a future visit. Your job is not just to treat your patients but to also leave a lasting impression on them. To be able to do that, a smooth patient intake process is what you need to have in place. But what is patient intake? Why is it important? What are its benefits? What tips should you follow to ensure a smooth patient intake process? We’ll cover anything and everything about patient intake in this article. So make sure you follow through!
What is patient intake?
Patient intake is a process that encompasses the initial steps performed by a medical facility while admitting patients, both new as well as returning. The goal of patient intake is to deliver seamless admittance and satisfactory care to all patients. While patient intake might not sound quite important, it really plays a pivotal role in the success of your healthcare practice, on financial, clinical, and operational fronts. Also, it is an excellent way to obtain patient information.
Patient intake is quite a lengthy and complicated process as it involves considerable paperwork and active participation from both the patients as well as the healthcare facility staff. Considering the complexity of this process, it is absolutely essential to be well-versed with the nitty-gritty of each aspect of healthcare operations at your facility.
Patient intake process
The patient engagement process begins the moment a patient schedules an appointment with your practice. During this process, the patient is familiarised with what he should expect on the day of the appointment. After acquiring the basic information about the patient, the rest of the process is done on the day of the appointment. The process can be more overwhelming for first-time patients as they are required to provide all the information for efficient treatment.
The information for first-timers includes:
Here are the steps that are followed for first-time patients:
- Sign-in by the patient with the patient intake coordinator/receptionist.
- Filling out forms regarding demographic information, insurance details, and medical history of self and family.
- Signing consent forms before meeting the doctor.
Once the forms are filled and submitted, the patient will be asked to wait until called in.
For repeating patients, the process is relatively easier, as not a lot of information is required. However, certain steps need to be followed for successful patient intake on the part of the patient intake coordinator.
- The repeat patients will have to sign in at the medical facility
- After signing in, the details of the repeat patient will be verified. The repeating patient need not fill all the forms like a new patient.
- Then the patient needs to fill out the consent form, which is equally important for repeat patients.
All of this information is acquired by the patient intake coordinator, who is responsible for easing out the process of patient intake for the medical facility and patients alike, while also ensuring HIPAA compliance. Here are some common duties that a patient intake coordinator performs.
Why is patient intake important?
We’re in 2022, dealing with a pandemic that has wreaked havoc in the past two years. This pandemic has highlighted inefficiencies in the realm of healthcare. Delays in screening, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases, exhausted staff, and backlogs in service are some of the most common changes that have affected operations. Owing to such inefficiencies, it has become all the more important to streamline operations, and that starts from patient intake.
Here’s what an ideal patient intake procedure looks like:
- Proper management of the patient’s data, privacy, and wait times
- Efficient patient experience
- Consistency and efficiency of information
Such a seamless process can be achieved by taking a digitized approach. Here are some common benefits that digitization of patient intake can bring along:
- Automated scheduling of appointments
- Online payment options
- Digital documentation
- Electronic forms
Though patient intake has its own benefits, the amount of paperwork and time it takes for the same can prove to be quite overwhelming. It can further lead to inefficiencies in the patient intake process and create room for errors. To eliminate such challenges, technology can prove to be a saving grace. With a technology-centric approach, you can bring efficiency to your healthcare practice.
How do bad reviews worsen the case for you:
Imagine waking up to a horrible review that possesses great potential to ruin your online reputation. Factors such as long wait times, lack of courtesy on the part of the staff or the provider, hidden expenses, and inefficient processes can invite negative reviews. Since patient intake starts the moment a patient steps foot into your practice, you, as a provider need to make sure that you leave that patient with the best experience. Train your staff in terms of dealing with patients, managing scheduling appointments, and reducing wait times. These factors might seem insignificant individually, but they can make or break your reputation. Excellent service is the cornerstone of any business’s success, and it is what makes you shine. When people leave good reviews about your practice and the way you deal with your patients, you will automatically attract new patients, which will further spur your practice’s growth.
Here’s how you can incorporate technology into your patient intake process:
Fun fact: Nearly 30 percent of patients walk out of a facility due to longer wait times.
1. Switch to digital documentation
This is a great thing you can incorporate into your practice to make the patient intake process easier. You can offer your patients a portal that allows them to register themselves, submit the required documents, provide e-consent forms, and track their records. Make sure that the portal you choose for the digital documentation of your patients is HIPAA compliant.
2. Invest in a healthcare CRM
Considering that the CRM market in the healthcare industry is going to touch 17.4 billion dollars in the year 2023; there is no way that a CRM won’t benefit your practice. Here are some benefits of a CRM:
- More accurate patient profiles
- Seamless integration with the hospital management system
- Centralised information about patients
- Automatic scheduling of appointments
- Ability to send automated notifications and follow-up reminders
3. Create a digital patient profile
As a healthcare practice, you must know your patient so as to provide the best possible medical care. Details such as demographics, medical history, health concerns, and consulting physician details can help you understand the kind of medical assistance you need. With a complete patient profile in place, you will be able to customise treatment as per the patient’s needs, thereby improving their quality of life.
What to look for in a patient intake software?
While choosing the perfect patient intake software to bring in operational efficiency in your healthcare practice, keep the below factors in mind:
- Ease of use; doesn’t require assistance with respect to attracting new patients, streamlining the communication process, and retaining existing patients.
- Ability to automate every patient’s journey, in clinical, financial, and operational aspects
- Offers integration with EHRs to minimise manual outreach
- Provides enterprise solutions that are scalable and free of cost
If you want to streamline operations in your healthcare practice, attract more patients, and grow your revenue; it is time you automate your patient intake process. With a patient engagement solution like Emitrr, you can convert missed calls, text messages, emails, and webchat to text, allow your patients to schedule appointments, and also send notifications and follow-up messages to minimise no-shows and cancellations.
So, make sure to invest in automation and witness the transformation of your healthcare facility in a variety of aspects.