According to a study on patient satisfaction, physicians estimated that 76 percent of their patients were completely satisfied with the care they received, but in reality, only 39 percent of patients described themselves as completely satisfied. There’s often a disconnect between patient and provider that can impact your practice. A big part of that starts with the first impression you make, including your onboarding process with new patients.
Patient onboarding is the process of getting new patients registered and oriented with your healthcare facility. Patient onboarding is an often-overlooked process at medical practices. But it’s absolutely critical to get right.
If onboarding for a new patient is confusing, takes too much time, or uses outdated methods like filling out pages and pages of paper forms, patients can develop a not-so-great first impression of the practice. But if you take steps to streamline the onboarding process, new patients will get the idea that your facility offers efficient, convenient, and confidential care.
The tips below will improve your new patient onboarding process and help build a great foundation for your relationships with new patients.
1. Offer accessible online patient forms
Using paper forms is one of the greatest inefficiencies in medical practices. When you think about it, patients are crunched for time as it is and often don’t feel well. The last thing they want is to deal with a clipboard full of forms while they’re sitting in a crowded waiting room.
And it’s not just patients who have to deal with the disorganization of paper. Close to one-third of physicians said handling paperwork and other administrative tasks takes 20 hours or more per week.
The first step in making your onboarding process simple and convenient for patients is to switch to online patient intake forms. These forms collect medical history, contact details, and other important health information from new patients. You can also include terms and conditions, and collect informed consent from patients through e-signatures. Patients complete all of these forms online before they even enter your office, which can keep them from feeling rushed in the waiting room.
Your practice can share online forms via a link or by embedding them on your website, which makes them easily accessible to patients. In addition, they don’t require manual administration, which means your staff can spend more time on strategic work that brings value to the practice and less time doing basic data entry.
2. Maintain data security
We can’t discuss onboarding new patients with online forms and protected health information (PHI) without talking about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). This law requires certain safeguards to be in place to ensure the integrity and confidentiality of PHI and reduce security risks.
Protecting the sensitive patient health data you collect from online intake forms is a critical part of the paperless patient onboarding process. It reduces the risk of a security breach and helps you gain and maintain patient trust.
Along with using HIPAA-compliant forms, these additional layers of security can help ensure compliance and confidentiality during the onboarding process:
- Data encryption. Encryption ensures the data you collect on patients is secured with an encryption key and cannot be viewed or read unless a person has access to the decryption key or code. Even if a hacker gets access to files, without a decryption key, the file content will be rendered unreadable.
- Auditing and logging. When it comes to data security, you’re required to track user activity in your accounts that can help identify any potential data breaches or issues, and you’re required to keep the audit logs for at least six years.
- Access control. Access controls allow you to closely monitor which employees have access to collected data. You can set up individual user permissions based on roles to make sure patient and practice data is only accessible by previously authorized individuals.
- Inactivity timeouts. You can program user sessions to time out after a certain period of inactivity, reducing the likelihood that patient or practice data is viewable on an idle device.
3. Solicit patient feedback
Once you’ve electronically collected a patient’s information and the necessary provider has seen the patient, it’s time to find out how satisfied your patient was with the overall experience.
The most efficient way to do that is to send new patients a patient satisfaction survey where they can share their feedback on the whole visit — including the onboarding process. You can look for any trends that can help you improve the overall experience. This ensures you’re continuing to work toward offering a seamless, high-quality experience for every patient who walks through your doors.
The key to efficient onboarding
The onboarding process is the first impression that a patient will have of your medical facility, so it’s critical to make sure it’s as efficient and convenient as possible. The use of safe, secure online forms is one way to streamline the process. It allows patients to submit their information at a time and place that’s convenient for them, and gives them the peace of mind that comes with knowing their information will remain confidential.
Not only will this help to create a favorable impression of your practice, but it can also go a long way toward overall patient satisfaction.