Preventing negative reviews through automated patient intake

Negative reviews often center on customer service rather than quality of care.

Patients needing healthcare often reach out to family and friends for referrals or advice. In addition, and just as often, people will go online to check out reviews of the doctors and practices they’re considering. These online reviews play a significant role in their decision making and that’s why establishing and maintaining positive online reviews is extremely important to a practice’s patient acquisition and retention efforts.

In a survey conducted by the Local Consumer Review Survey, nearly 80 percent of patients reported that they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations from friends or family. So, it’s no surprise that patients seek out online review sites such as those found on Google, Yelp, HealthGrades, and Zocdoc.

Ironically, most negative patient reviews have nothing to do with the quality of care received at the practice. Most negative reviews are triggered by poor experiences found elsewhere along the patient care continuum, with the waiting room being one of the most frequently cited places for dissatisfying occurrences.

A 2018 study conducted by Vanguard Communications discovered that 96 percent of patient complaints cited “Customer Service”, not the “Quality of Care”, as the reason for their adverse experience. 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."

Current data continues to support the idea that traditional patient intake is a consumer pain point. In a fall 2021 survey by Stericycle Communication Solutions, nearly two-thirds of the survey’s respondents (64%) preferred virtual waiting rooms to physical ones with long in-office wait times being their highest reported reason for dissatisfaction (40%).

One way that’s helping to reduce the negative experiences patients find in the waiting room is automated pre-arrival patient intake systems. By filling out their information ahead of the office visit, the patient’s visit can be streamlined, and, in many instances, they can avoid the waiting room entirely.

Encompassing a wide range of administrative and consumer tasks, automated patient intake will drastically improve the patient experience as well as streamline the in-practice experience - starting with the input of requisite paperwork, including contact information, insurance cards, consent forms, and other vital clinical data.

What used to contribute long wait times in the waiting room can now be accomplished ahead of time, on a computer, laptop, tabloid, or smartphone, at the place and time of the patient’s liking. For healthcare facilities, automating their patient-intake methodology can ensure that patients are engaged, satisfied… and posting positive online reviews.

While there are numerous patient intake solutions and management systems available, they are not all created equally. For the benefit of the practice as a whole, it’s imperative to evaluate and find the solution that works best for the healthcare practice and its patients.

Fanciful claims of “bi-directional” integration, cutting-edge features, and functionality may actually consist of makeshift workarounds that are cobbled together. This is often the result when a patient intake system is reverse engineered to work for legacy platforms, often to facilitate a quick pre-arrival pivot during the pandemic. These platforms tend to be restrictive and difficult to update.

Things to look for when evaluating a patient intake solution are 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.

A robust, patient-friendly, automated patient intake solution will significantly cut down on waiting room times, a place where most patient frustration is felt and negative reviews about the practice are born. By obtaining more complete and accurate patient data in a timely manner, the quality of care at your practice will improve and both staff and patients will benefit from the implementation.

Keep the reputation of your practice positive and thriving. Adopt the new technologies that offer your practice authentic, measurable benefits – in terms of time, money, and patient satisfaction. Hospitals, medical facilities, and private practices have an enormous 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 negative online 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.