Paper is suitable for a lot of things. It’s used for money, greeting cards, media publications and more. It’s so popular that toilet paper was a hot commodity at stores at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Paper is still utilized in healthcare, but it often accompanies outdated, time-consuming and error-prone processes. Front office staff spend more time copying forms, scanning patient charts and other documents and handling clipboards — all of which adds to their administrative burden.
It’s well-documented that the COVID pandemic precipitated patients’ use of digital health tools and hastened the shift to healthcare consumerism. Many patients prefer to have the resources available to schedule appointments, register and check-in through their smartphone, computer or other mobile device.
Most physicians are on board, too, with the adoption of digital health solutions that promote patient engagement. Roughly 85 percent of physicians believe these tools provide an advantage in their ability to care for their patients.
Probably the most popular of these tools is digital check-in. A majority of patients want to be able to shorten their time at the doctor’s office by checking in before their appointment. Using digital check-in enables them to complete the process at their convenience, not in a crowded room full of coughing and sneezing patients.
Digital check-in doesn’t only benefit patients, though. It provides a host of advantages for medical groups, both small and large. If you’re a provider organization trying to decide whether digital check-in will really make that much of a difference in your operational efficiency, check out these 10 reasons such technology will have a positive impact on your practice.
1. Elevated Patient Engagement and Satisfaction
Multiple studies have found that copious amounts of patients expect a seamless check-in experience with their provider(s), whether that’s in person or at the office. More than half prefer digital check-in because it saves them time, eliminates the need for redundant data entry and reduces in-office wait time. Some patients will only see a provider whose office employs digital health tools. Satisfied and engaged patients means a steady volume, less attrition and a strong revenue stream.
2. An Added Layer of Contactless Care
The growth of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic was primarily due to patients not wanting to risk exposure to the contagious virus. Along with other methods of contactless care, it made it easier to adhere to social distancing standards. For patients who want to see their provider in person, digital check-in and other contactless solutions allow them to conveniently complete necessary administrative tasks before their appointment, adding another level of safety for both them and provider staff.
3. Shorter Wait Times
A primary patient complaint about doctor’s appointments is long wait times. Although the average physician appointment lasts only 18 minutes, it’s not unheard of for patients to wait 30 minutes or more to be seen by their doctor. Some even walk out due to a long wait. It’s no surprise, then, that physician practices with longer wait times typically receive lower patient satisfaction scores. Dissatisfied patients equal a lack of provider loyalty.
Digital check-in not only plays a big role in preventing crowded waiting rooms, it also promotes better patient flow, which is associated with quality healthcare. Good patient flow also reduces the pressure on provider staff, mitigates delays in treatment and improves the overall efficiency of a practice.
4. Negated No-Shows
We’ve mentioned it in previous blogs, but it’s still important to note that patient no-shows cost the healthcare industry an estimated $150 billion annually. The number for solo physician practices is $150,000. However, practices actively working to minimize no-shows can reduce them by up to 70 percent.
Digital health solutions that are utilized to remind patients of an upcoming appointment help mitigate no-shows. They also provide patients with instructions for checking in before their visit, adding another layer of engagement to decrease the number of no-shows and cancellations.
5. Mitigation of Medical Errors
Medical errors are very costly in healthcare, both in patient outcomes and financial operations. Digital check-in reduces the likelihood of errors occurring during patient registration, especially those due to illegible handwriting and mistakes in data entry.
6. Alleviated Administrative Burden
Too many bureaucratic tasks are a leading contributor many physicians cite for burnout. Those pesky administrative tasks can also negatively affect provider staff. Technology such as digital check-in frees up time for front-office staff and enables them to focus on other tasks. Without so many interruptions, these team members are able to spend more time on patients who need it most.
7. Enhanced Coordination of Care
When patients enter their own information through digital check-in, it increases accuracy and updates their records in real-time. It also helps to streamline the process of sharing records between various other clinicians and provider organizations as necessary.
8. Improved HIPAA Compliance
Patient privacy is paramount for providers. Using digital check-in minimizes the risk of the loss of protected health information (PHI), which in turn aids in compliance with HIPAA security and privacy standards.
9. Curtailed Operational Costs
We previously mentioned the negative effects of paper-based processes in healthcare. Did you also know that such manual processes cost approximately $3 more than each electronic transaction? Digital check-in solutions ensure a faster patient registration, decrease practice overhead costs and help streamline the claims process.
10. More Reliable Revenue
When patients use digital-check in, they’re able to view co-pays, deductibles and any outstanding balance(s). By better understanding their financial responsibility before their appointment, they’re more likely to pay either online or at the office before their appointment. For provider organizations, that means improved reimbursement and increased revenue.