If you’re still using paper forms, consider this a wake-up call: it’s time to go digital. Many patients are tired of long wait times that sometimes involve filling out necessary paperwork when they arrive for their appointments. In fact, data shows that nearly half of the patients surveyed indicated that wait time is the most frustrating part of visiting the doctor, with some walking out or even changing practices.
While there may be many factors that can contribute to long wait times, one, in particular, may stand out as low-hanging fruit: paper intake forms. Adopting a digital intake process — whereby patients submit insurance and other intake information online or from their mobile device — may help to streamline your workflows and meet your patients where they are: on their smartphones. After all, 85% of U.S. adults have a smartphone and the average American spends nearly five and a half hours on their mobile device each day.
Switching to electronic patient intake forms has many benefits for healthcare providers. We rounded up six ways digital patient forms may be able to benefit your practice:
1. Decreased wait times for patients
The intake process can be time-consuming for patients. This is because of all the information a practice needs before initiating an actual visit, including:
- Demographic and contact information: Full name, mailing address, phone number, and email address.
- Medical histories: Including both personal and familial medical histories.
- Social behaviors: Such as how often a patient exercises, whether they smoke or drink, etc.
- Other: Insurance details, pharmacy information, emergency contacts, COVID screenings, and relevant consent forms.
Writing this information on paper can take a long time. Unless patients show up 10-15 minutes early, they’ll use actual appointment time on paperwork, which may impact provider availability, back up the schedule, and cause longer wait times for themselves and other patients.
With electronic patient intake forms, your patients may not have to spend these additional minutes in your waiting room. Instead, they can complete all necessary intake forms before they come in for their appointments and simply wait to be called once they get to your office.
2. Streamlined workflows for your staff
Managing intake forms isn’t just time-consuming for patients. Between printing, copying, scanning, transcribing, and shredding — paperwork may cause unnecessary staff work. When forms are digitized, you can avoid many of these steps. Depending on your EHR, intake information may automatically sync with a patient’s record so you don’t have to manually process information.
3. Potential for decreased costs
Paper intake forms may hurt your bottom line. On one hand, the cost of paper and printer ink quickly adds up. On the other, if paper intake is causing long wait times at your practice, dissatisfied patients could opt to switch providers because of the long wait times and manual intake processes.
4. Improvements in the accuracy of patient data
With electronic patient intake forms, the chances of collecting and storing information accurately in a patient’s file may be higher. With paper forms, there is always the possibility of the common mistakes that come with manual data entry, like incorrectly deciphering a person’s handwriting or accidentally inputting the wrong information.
5. Increased operational efficiency
According to Medical Economics, the top challenge facing medical practices in 2022 was administrative burdens. Paperwork may contribute to this administrative burden. Other challenges cited include staffing issues, prior authorizations, and EHR management — all of which can contribute to operational inefficiency. While digitizing patient intake forms won’t solve every inefficiency, it is one step that may help alleviate burdens on overwhelmed staff, automate what was previously manual data entry into the EHR, and free up time for you to focus on other areas of improvement.
6. Better patient experience
We live in a digital world where convenience is no longer just a nice to have — it’s a need to have. Many patients expect convenience, and one way to provide convenience is by allowing patients to submit digital intake forms from the comfort of their homes.
An extension of the COVID-inspired contactless experience, a digital intake process helps keep patients in control and can give them more time with their doctors. Instead of spending precious appointment time in your waiting room with a clipboard, they’ll likely be able to get the care they need from your providers. They may also be less likely to feel rushed or improperly cared for.
All in all, digitizing the intake process may drive a more positive patient experience, which may ultimately encourage return visits, positive reviews, and patient referrals.
How Klara can simplify your patient workflows through digital patient intake forms
By now you likely understand the benefits of digitizing your patient forms, but how do you get started? With Klara, you can automate workflows across the entire patient journey — including patient communication, provider collaboration, and patient intake.
For intake specifically, Klara can automate patient outreach ahead of every appointment — sending reminders, requesting insurance information and other intake forms, and providing any necessary pre-visit instructions. These automated communications can be sent to your patients via text, allowing them to provide all requested information right from their mobile devices.
What Klara’s digital intake process looks like for your patients
Whether you are looking for information from new patients or verifying information for returning patients, Klara’s digital intake forms can help. For example, you can request an insurance card upload:
You can also send pre-visit instructions:
How Klara’s digital intake process works for your practice
Setting up digital intake with Klara is a simple process. With Klara’s mobile-friendly digital forms, you can turn your paper forms into mobile-friendly digital forms. After a patient fills one out, it automatically saves as a PDF in Klara. From there, you can export the completed forms into your EHR either automatically or manually (depending on your chosen EHR).