While many patients are eager to return in-office appointments, others aren’t quite ready to venture out or are unsure of when they should seek care in person and when they should resort to Telehealth. While providers themselves still have a lot of questions about Telehealth, like “how long will providers be able to use platforms like Zoom and Facetime to conduct Telehealth?”, “what will reimbursement really look like?”, and “how many of my patients prefer Telehealth over an in-office visit?” most predict the post-COVID-19 patient journey will reflect a mix of Telehealth and in-office visits.
The Patient Journey Will Become Increasingly Digital Regardless of Appointment Type
Powering a digital patient journey not only protects patients and staff by reducing the number of shared surfaces and points of exposure (no more clipboards, kiosks, pens, paper), but it also drives a better patient experience and streamlined workflows for staff. While the traditional patient journey was built on manual workflows like phone calls, data entry, mailed paper statements, and more, a digital patient journey extends access to patients on their mobile devices. Patients can schedule and confirm appointments, update their medical historiesand payer information, leave post-visit feedback, and pay their bills without dialing a phone number or entering the clinic/office.
Contactless Patient Intake is Foundational
Automated solutions like appointment reminders and recalls have helped health systems and medical practices drastically reduce their no-shows, reclaim lost revenue, and keep their patients on the schedule. Today, as we look at how to support Telehealth, reduce risk, improve the patient experience, and streamline workflows, digital patient intake is a must. Here’s how contactless intake accomplishes all of the above.
Digital intake forms make it possible for office staff to collect all the same information they would collect in a traditional registration process without requiring a patient to present in the office, including insurance cards and photo ID’s. Thanks to mobile-first solutions, patients can complete registration forms prior to a Telehealth visit or an in-office visit, giving office staff the opportunity to verify patient information, identify financial responsibility, and help patients access the right resources earlier in the patient journey.
Besides the obvious elimination of clipboards and pens being shared between patients, contactless patient intake also powers virtual waiting rooms. This strategy popped up during the coronavirus pandemic but remains a sustainable practice for the long-term thanks to digital strategies that allow patients to check-in for their appointments from their vehicles. Bypassing the clinic waiting room reduces both the amount of time a patient spends exposed to germs and viruses carried by other patients and the number of surfaces patients may touch without realizing it.
Improving the Patient Experience
Contactless intake offers patients the digital self-service tools they have come to expect from other consumer industries but it also shaves considerable time from an in-office patient visit. U.S. Dermatology Partners says eRegistration can save their patients up to 20 minutes they would have spent in the waiting room prior to an appointment, getting patients in and out and back to their busy lives faster. It also makes it easier to optimize provider schedules, which can mean seeing more patients in a day or having more time to spend with each patient.
Contactless intake helps medical offices achieve better efficiency, reduce denials, and capture more revenue. Key to this is the ability to capture payer information prior to the patient appointment so staff has an opportunity to verify coverage, determine the patient’s financial responsibility, and submit prior authorizations when needed.