Being greeted with a pen and paper and a clipboard is probably one of the most frustrating parts of visiting a healthcare practice. Even when all other industries seem to have taken a shift by embracing technology, the healthcare industry seems reluctant to let go of this ancient method of collecting information.
We know that it’s mandatory for every patient to register themselves and provide information such as contact information, medical history and insurance identification. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that we have to use outdated methods to procure this information.
A growing number of patients (read 93%) have reported that they prefer the majority of healthcare communication to be done via digital tools.
So why should healthcare services shy away from using those?
The way to start is by using Online Patient Forms or Online Intake forms. What purpose do these forms serve and why do you need it?
What is an online patient form?
Online patient form or an online intake form is an advanced and better way to collect patient information. As the name suggests it is a patient form which can be filled online. It is also known as patient intake form.
It provides the patients with an option to fill the form at the comfort of their own home. All necessary information related to the patient can be filled digitally and submitted to the healthcare practice.
Why do you need an online patient form?
The advantages of the online patient form are quite honestly,tenfold! It comes with a myriad of benefits for both the healthcare practitioner and the patient.
Some of these advantages include –
- Increased accuracy in the office – A lot of the times errors are made when copying information from paper to computer. Studies show that 61% of claim denials are due to simple technical errors.
These can be easily reduced with the online patient form as the patients themselves fill it accurately,given they have had ample time to do so. Which brings us to the second advantage.
- Easier for patients – Without the fear of being rushed to fill up the intake form, patients can easily take time to fill in the correct details and check in on those details which they might have missing at the time. This makes the patients better able to review their information. It also allows patients to fill the form at a time convenient to them.
- Improves patient experience – As the patients fill in their information online in the comfort of their homes, a significant reduction in the wait time in the office can be observed. With reduced waiting time, patient experience would surely improve. Patient check-in becomes more streamlined as the office already has all the required patient information.
- Integrates with your scheduling system – Data entered by the patients in the online patient form can be directly integrated with your scheduling system or patient management software. This would help save time for both your staff and the patient.
- Unburdens your staff – As patients take care of filling their information online, your staff isn’t burdened with transcribing data from paper to computer. They are now left to deal with more demanding situations that require their attention without any distractions.
- Reduces Expenses – As irrelevant as it might sound, but cost for paper in your office amounts to 3 % of your annual revenue. If you have a chance to reduce this cost, why shouldn’t you? Using paperless , online data collection is the way to go.
Apart from the obvious benefits of the online intake form, it can also be used in some other areas. These include –
- Pre-validating insurance information.
Having the patient’s insurance information ahead of time allows practices to verify his/her eligibility before the appointment. Any insurance issue can be resolved before the patient is in the office waiting to be seen.
- Helps collect relevant quality data
With the online patient form, you will be assured that only relevant data is being collected. This would also help maintain the quality of data being saved in your PMS or EMR.
Whether online patient forms follow HIPAA compliance is an apprehension many healthcare providers have. As we know, it’s important to ensure the privacy, security and confidentiality of protected health information, hence creating or using forms that are HIPPA compliant is necessary.
Many companies offer forms that are HIPAA compliant that you can use for your healthcare office.These range from onboarding new patients, obtaining consent, collecting payments, and conducting surveys.
Some ways to ensure security of forms –
- Make the forms password protected
It’s important that you ensure that only authorized people have access to the forms. Implementing this protocol would include making sure that the form is password protected.
It’s imperative that your office has a clear written policy on managing passwords.
- Use HIPAA compliant cloud storage
Ensure that the cloud storage you use has a HIPAA security option including data encryption to protect intake forms as they’re moved to the cloud server. You also need to make sure that you have a business account with HIPAA-compliant security and a business associate agreement (BAA).
- Use forms that enable electronic signatures
Having the option of electronic signatures will make the process more secure and risk free. Taking a physical signature and then printing,scanning or faxing could be risky for patient information security.
- Make the process easy
Making the process of filling the forms for the patient and accessing the forms by the authorized personnel should be a simple procedure, the more complicated you make it , the more unnecessary interventions would be required to safeguard the data.
In summary, using online patient forms/online intake forms will make life easier for both you and your patients. It will unburden your staff and reduce the room for errors in filling the intake forms. It will help your patients have a seamless experience with your office and add to good patient experience. This in turn can also contribute in improving the patient satisfaction.