While the main purpose of digital check-in is to provide you with as much information as possible about a new patient, you occasionally need more than just their name, address, and insurance details to determine the level of care and attention they will require at your clinic.
One of the first experiences your patients have with your practice is filling out your form. A form that is challenging to complete, missing crucial information that patients might forget to provide later, or otherwise difficult to submit can leave a bad first impression.
Fortunately, there are a few things you can add to your forms to make them more useful, both in terms of giving you important information and providing more details.
The following are some things your forms must contain:
It might seem a little silly to brand your hospital or clinic on an intake form, digital or not. After all, the majority of clients are aware that they are sending the form to your office. You don’t really need to remind them, do you?
Whether patients are aware of it or not, branding is actually an important point of contact for them, according to Stewart Gandolf of Healthcare Success. According to him, branding your practice has some very real benefits. “People will gladly spend more money on a brand than a generic substitute.”
Although it might not seem significant to your clinic right now, branding is crucial for creating patient trust and brand recall, which could be critical when it comes time for a patient to recommend your clinic to friends and family or return for additional care.
If your form is on your website, the landing page should be consistent with your website’s overall design and branding. This entails utilizing the same fonts, color schemes, and, if necessary, a logo.
If PDF forms or printed copies of online forms are required of patients, branding and styling should be included in the PDF or downloadable form as well.
Additionally, patients might have questions about their treatment or wish to provide pertinent health information for which there isn’t currently room on your form. Since you won’t be able to anticipate every healthcare concern they might have, your form should also include a section for open-ended questions.
Simply asking if there is anything else you would like us to know can accomplish this. can you provide more details about the medications you’re taking?, or even separate spaces for more specific inquiries? or “Have you got any reservations about coming to our place?”
Even if your doctors conduct a more in-depth patient interview later, it can be beneficial to have a record of the patient’s concerns that the office staff can consult if necessary or that the doctors can read up on in advance of the interview (in case they miss or forget to ask during the interview).
The majority of patients will probably leave these questions unanswered, but those who do can offer insightful information about their health that could help their overall care.
Although not all intake forms address mental health issues, more thorough forms frequently include some psychological information, such as a history of depression or anxiety.
Studies show that mental health conditions can worsen or cause physical symptoms, and in some cases, it can be challenging to determine whether a patient’s pain is psychological or physical in origin (or both).
Knowing that a patient has a history of depression is a good place to start, but allowing them to discuss any additional mental health issues (eating disorders, fibromyalgia, claustrophobia, general anxiety, history of abuse, etc.) may help doctors during the intake process make more accurate healthcare assessments.
Although not all patients will want to share this information, making it available for those who do (possibly as an open-ended question) can go a long way toward demonstrating that you take a more all-encompassing approach to patient care.
Name and pronouns of choice
The legalization of gay marriage and the prominence of LGBTQ representation in recent legislation and societal changes have altered how many medical clinics approach providing care for these groups.
While some clinics have started to modify their forms to be more inclusive of LGBTQ communities, such as by providing more options for gender identification, it might not always be possible to do so with your online or paper forms.
If so, you can still include editable fields or open-ended inquiries that address some of these issues, such as areas for preferred names or pronouns.
Many LGBTQ patients experience discrimination in healthcare settings, according to Nurse.org. On your intake form, demonstrating your concern for and ability to address issues relevant to their particular needs may go a long way toward making them feel secure and nurtured.
Last but not least, not all of the information on your intake form should be about gathering data. Along with any legal information they have a right to know, you should inform patients of any instructions or messages for their initial or subsequent visits to your clinic.
Depending on your practice, industry, and state laws, your disclaimer’s precise wording may vary, but generally speaking, it will say something like this:
“To the best of my knowledge, the data above is accurate. I give [your name or business name here] permission to charge my insurance company. I am aware that I am accountable for any outstanding debt.
Any other relevant legal or clinic information should also be included in this disclaimer to help resolve any potential future disputes.
Additionally, you ought to include a personalized message at the top of the form thanking the patient for their time and providing them with a few basic instructions on what information to provide (what information is required, for example), how to submit their form, where to review it, and how to make changes if necessary.
This helps the patient understand that you value their time and that you want them to be fully informed about their care, even before it starts, even if you use the same message on every form.
Although the majority of intake forms are fairly standard, there are some elements you can include that may enhance your overall patient experience and make it easier for patients to get around their first visit.
This includes any warnings, guidelines, or preferably open-ended questions. This allows patients to add any information not already on your form that might be pertinent to your care. To reassure patients that they are providing the correct information to the correct practice, you should also include branding information on your forms.