As a care provider, the patient check-in process is one of your first opportunities to deliver an outstanding patient experience. Proper management of patients, appointments, and doctor availability can help streamline this critical interaction. When done poorly, the result is a bottlenecked patient check-in system, delayed appointments, and crowded waiting rooms – to the detriment of the patient experience.
What are the challenges in the existing patient check-in system?
The patient check-in system is a vital touchpoint and an opportunity to make a good first impression. Care providers face many challenges
- Front office efficiency – Front office staff have many responsibilities including supply provisioning, new patient registration, managing patient queues and responding to enquiries. Many of these processes can be automated to save time e.g. routine and after office hours enquiries can be handled by a healthcare chatbot.
- Smooth patient flow – Maintaining a smooth patient flow is an important challenge. As appointments are stacked one after the other, any delay in one appointment can cause a cascading effect on all the rest. Sometimes the staff is unaware of which patients have checked-in and end up wasting time by calling them when the doctor is ready to see them. Waiting is an unavoidable part of the patient visit. Proper management of patients can reduce chaos and wait times.
- Patient communication – Transparent & timely communication between hospital staff and patients is significant in every step of patient care. e.g. If a patient comes in for a follow-up the doctor will need reports from the previous appointment.
Current patient check-in processes have a lot of room for error & inefficiency. Automated patient check-in system with Intelligent Workflows and Virtual Assistants powered with AI/NLP can ease the patient journey, with benefits for both patients & care providers.
Let’s examine an ideal patient check-in process
Flexible appointment scheduling:
A smooth appointment scheduling process is the first step to streamlining the patient check-in process. Patients should be offered multiple channels of communication. Once booked, an automation workflow monitors the appointment, sends reminders, ensures that paperwork is current, etc.
- Online: The patient interacts with an online calendar, negotiates their preferred date/time and books the appointment.
- Email: Some patients use email to request an appointment. This is normally followed by a callback to nail down appointment details. Virtual Assistants can automate the process of extracting the patient’s request and scheduling a callback which could potentially guide them to an online portal.
- Phone: Although there are online options available, some patients still prefer calling to get information or schedule an appointment. Automated agents can service these requests with technology that can handle voice interaction.
- In-hospital kiosks: Patient self check-in kiosks enable patients to schedule appointments via interactive touch screen systems & self-service, powered by Virtual Assistants.
Checking for prerequisites:
- Insurance eligibility checks
- Automated appointment reminders to minimize no-shows
- Reminders to bring necessary documents, test reports or previous patient history
- Complete paperwork online e.g. surgery consent forms, legal paperwork, etc.
Transparent check-in policies:
Well documented instructions ensure a happier patient experience. Policies regarding the treatment of late arrivals, appointment cancellation or postponement, procedures, and logistics (e.g. parking) need to be communicated clearly.
Using the same system of record for staff and patients can simplify tasks and make sure that everyone is on the same page. These can be used to communicate information such as Patient Status (waiting, consultation in progress, completed) or Room Status (availability, access). This can be regularly updated and reflected in real-time.
Reduced burden on caregivers:
Caregivers have to deal with a continuous stream of inquiries. Clear guidelines for appointment duration, doctor availability, and working hours should be set beforehand so that their tasks can be completed efficiently. Adequate breaks should be provided between appointments. Where possible, patients with similar conditions can be grouped together.
Minimize patient wait time:
Patients can get frustrated with long wait times. This can be addressed by
- Anticipating a patient’s appointment time based on their condition
- Reducing overbooking while accounting for no-shows
- Allowing for emergency appointments based on known patterns
An improved patient check-in process is beneficial to both patients and care providers.
We have suggested various approaches to streamline the patient check-in process and related activities. As a care provider, these approaches will help you increase patient comfort & convenience when they need it most. They are enabled with the right technology, coupled with analytics & learning, and represent a small subsection of possibilities. Talk to us at Autonom8 to learn how to rapidly digitize & enrich the patient journey and your staff experience to make all our lives better & healthier.