By Hari Prasad, CEO of Yosi Health
Necessity is the mother of invention, and the pandemic has brought about advances through technology to health organizations nationwide. As with any new technology, adoption takes time and is often consumer driven. Consumers have especially embraced two new innovative changes to the healthcare practice experience. One is the use of telehealth appointments. The other is contactless patient intake.
In addition to providing safe, remote, contactless pre-arrival patient engagement, digital patient intake platforms are also solving one of the – if not the biggest – problem in healthcare that existed prior to the pandemic, the waiting room.
According to the Local Consumer Review Survey, nearly 80 percent of patients surveyed said they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends or family. It’s why online review sites such as Yelp, HealthGrades, Zocdoc, Vitals and even Google are a trusted resource for patients looking to make healthcare provider choices. It’s easier to make decisions based on the input and opinions of others who have faced a similar task and who have no overt vested personal interest in what or who you choose. Positive reviews can help a prospective patients sign on with a practice. Conversely, negative reviews can have a significant impact on developing and maintaining a patient panel.
Ironically, most negative patient reviews have nothing to do with the quality of care received from providers. Most negative reviews arise from the part of the continuum euphemistically titled “the waiting room.” In 2018, a study conducted by Vanguard Communications and published in the (U.S.) Journal of Medical Practice Management, essentially concluded that 96% of complaints faulted the “Customer Service” not the “Quality of Care”. And according to a 2016 Advisory board study “The nearly unanimous consensus is that in terms of impact on patient satisfaction, the waiting room trumps the exam room.”
When everything is working properly, you’re filling out clipboards (often the same information over and over), point-of-care insurance verification, co-pays, card scans, which all equate to long wait times. With this as the status quo, and it being the 21st century, it’s not hard to imagine why a frustrated patient would share their negative experience online.
You have one chance to make a good first impression and onboarding is a patient’s first experience of any practice’s continuum. For healthcare organizations this means making your first impression, the patient intake process (and follow-up procedures) as frictionless as possible.
Aside from the long waiting room times, which are at the forefront of the negative reviews, medical data errors caused by poor transcription are also not uncommon, especially when staff are faced with illegible handwritten forms.
The good news is, there is a solution for eliminating these negative reviews.
Patient intake encompasses a wide range of administrative tasks – starting at collection of mandatory paperwork including contact information, insurance cards, consent forms, and other vital patient data. Oftentimes, this process leads to a long wait time for the patient, causing frustration and a poor review. Imagine if a doctor’s appointment did not entail sitting in a waiting room and filling out paperwork. For healthcare facilities, addressing this time-consuming process can ensure that patients are engaged and satisfied.
The solution? Automate the intake process and create the virtual waiting room.
While there are numerous types of patient intake solutions and management systems on the market, they are not created equally. For healthcare administrators, it’s imperative to evaluate and find the solution that works.
The entire marketplace is extremely complex with fanciful claims of “bi-directional” integration and a plethora of features and functionality that are littered with kluged work arounds and cobbled together workflows reminiscent of Rube Goldberg contraptions. This can be particularly true for point-of-care intake companies, with their legacy platforms, that had to quickly pivot to adapt the demands of the pandemic.
It’s critical to analyze features like customizability of forms and flexibility of workflows, EMR/EHR integration, the depth of that integration, care center branding ability, on-demand, registration links, and the like.
Some solutions focus on only one or a few of these functionalities and have varying degrees of fluency with the balance. That’s why it’s extremely important to understand in depth what each solution offers, especially when making this type of investment for your practice. We are advocates of the “try before you buy” paradigm.
Automated patient intake gives providers the opportunity to obtain more complete and accurate patient data thus increasing the quality of care they provide.
Another tool of these platforms is an in-office survey component that can be useful to collect and gather patient satisfaction data at the point of service or after to help manage health facilities’ reputations. The practice can then bolster and leverage their patient’s positive experiences to grow organically.
Implementing new technologies offers these practices authentic, measurable benefits – in terms of time, money, and patient satisfaction. This means hospitals, medical facilities, and private practices have an incredible opportunity to utilize these tools to improve patient care by taking a close look at the efficiency and quality of their patient intake process while eliminating those bad reviews.
Hari Prasad is pioneering the modernization of the entire healthcare patient experience. He is co-founder and CEO of Yosi Health, a full-service technology ecosystem that connects patients with their providers through the entire care journey before, during and after the visit creating delightful patient experiences.