For the fourth year in a row, patients' biggest gripe was waiting times and not enough staff.
A study conducted last year by Ipsos Global Health Monitor sought to uncover what patients view as the biggest healthcare problems. Contrary to what many believe, it’s not cost or quality of treatment. Instead, for the fourth survey in a row, patients biggest gripe was waiting times and not enough staff.
It’s becoming all too common to find frustrated patients sitting in a waiting room, anxiously waiting for their name to be called. They’ve already noted their name and arrival time on the sheet of paper at the front desk, but as the minutes tick past their scheduled appointment time, the frustration grows. Adding to that frustration is the clipboard handed to them when they arrive, forcing patients to complete paperwork while they wait. Quite honestly, it’s a terrible way to start a patient/physician relationship, and it often leads to patients skipping a needed appointment or seeking care elsewhere.
As burnout and staffing shortages continue to plague offices nationwide, many physicians and office leaders are desperate for a solution to this growing industry problem.
One such option would be to streamline the check-in process and encourage a positive patient experience with the adoption of digital technology. Addressing a common industry pain point such as the manual check-in process with a state-of-the-art digital check-in solution can boost the patient journey and staff morale in four significant ways:
Front desk freedom
With staffing challenges continuing to plague the industry, there may be no bigger waste of resources than having someone sitting at the front desk coordinating check-ins and filing patient paperwork. Yet, an alarming 83% of medical providers still use the front desk as the primary method for checking in patients.
Instead, providers should embrace a digital/self-check-in process that simplifies the intake process for staff by reducing paperwork, data entry, and document scans. With today’s technology advancements, all the required information can be gathered long before a patient ever leaves their house, which not only helps alleviate the challenge of missing documents, but also gets rid of the dreaded clipboard. With online forms, patients can assemble credentials from the comfort of their homes without the pressure of fumbling through personal items at the front desk.
If patients do not complete registration information before their appointment, they can do so at the office using self-serve kiosks. Self-serve kiosks are an excellent option for patients who might not have technology or may not be as tech-savvy. On-premises self-check-in grants more significant control over the process while keeping the front desk unoccupied. This allows staff to focus on other necessary tasks, like insurance verification, which is often the hardest part of the intake process.
Patient engagement platforms that offer digital check-ins are an effective way to gather, vet, and store sensitive information.Not only do they cut the amount of paperwork in offices, but they also streamline tasks for administrative staff. With less paper, fewer staff need to be dedicated to tedious office tasks like scanning and data entry. Documents can also be reviewed in advance, saving administrators time and energy spent tracking down patients for additional information.
Patients benefit from digital documents as well. Instead of having to arrive extra early to fill out mountains of paperwork, they can again complete the required information from home at their own pace.
Manage anxiety and expectations
Medical appointments can be stressful, and the unknown can be anxiety-inducing. Letting patients know precisely what they can expect during their visit helps calm nerves. This past year, nearly half of women reported putting off preventative care services, and 55% of men report not getting regular health screenings. Supplying details – such as office location and procedure details – to a patient about their visit via email or SMS is another excellent method to boost satisfaction and alleviate concerns in advance.
Navigating unfamiliar medical facilities can also cause stress and added anxiety before an appointment. Consider patient engagement platforms that offer wayfinding solutions to help patients find your office. Wayfinding solutions help the front desk by preventing time-consuming phone calls to deliver directions and encouraging patients to arrive on time for appointments.
Eliminated missed appointments
Did you know the healthcare industry loses $150 billion in missed appointments every year? That’s a staggering figure, and one that can easily be reduced by integrating automated reminders into a patient communication strategy. Automatic emails and AI-powered SMS messages can both notify patients of upcoming appointments and help them reschedule without requiring staff to spend large chunks of time on the phone or in email. Look for a patient engagement platform that is also compatible with electronic health records (EHRs) to integrate data seamlessly and reliably.
As the survey in the first paragraph makes clear, patients are concerned more about their experience going to the doctor’s office than they are about the cost of the visit. With a digital check-in process, physicians are boosting patient engagement and loyalty before the patient ever sets foot in the office. Even better, digital check-in platforms streamline administrative tasks and prevent appointment delays, delivering a patient-first, stress-free appointment.
Chuck Hayes is the Vice President of Product Management for TeleVox, the industry-leading provider of omnichannel patient relationship management platforms. Chuck has nearly 30 years of experience in the management, development and sales of award-winning hardware and software products.