We Live in the Future. Why Is Patient Registration Stuck in the Past? – #HITsm Chat Topic

We’re excited to share the topic and questions for this week’s #HITsm chat happening Friday, 6/21 at Noon ET (9 AM PT). This week’s chat will be hosted by Theresa Moss (@theresajmoss) from @FormFast on the topic “We Live in the Future. Why Is Patient Registration Stuck in the Past?”.

It’s 2019. We use our phones to do everything. We do our grocery shopping, pay bills, buy concert tickets, order pizza, take care of our banking, check the weather, translate foreign signage, and find the fastest route while driving using our phones. I can control my thermostat, read a book, dim the lights, scroll Instagram when I can’t sleep, and order prescriptions … all from the same device.

I can remember watching StarTrek:TNG in the 90’s and seeing Captain Picard using what was essentially an iPad and thinking a device like that seemed both super cool and impossible.  Now over 75% of us own a smartphone and over 50% own a tablet.  We live in the future!

Yet, when you walk into your doctor’s office for an appointment, you’re often transported back to 20, 30 or even 40 years ago. Sure, the person behind the front desk has a computer, and he or she is most likely using a very snazzy electronic health record (EHR). As a patient, though, you’re asked to trade your insurance card and picture ID for a clipboard stuffed with several pages of paperwork. The forms sometimes look like they’re on their millionth reduplication on a copy machine … they look messy and often have the same questions repeated on many pages (anyone else skip filling their name and DOB at the top of every page?).

They’re also missing all that information you gave the doctor the LAST time you were in. Never mind that you filled out very similar paperwork at your last three visits at other providers. Aren’t all these systems supposed to be talking to each other?

“I filled these out last time I was here,” is the common protest from patients. “So sorry, they want them filled in every time you come,” the receptionist replies, with a sympathetic and apologetic smile. She knows you think it’s silly.  She thinks it’s silly too. That information you have to re-write every time? She has to look over every line and spot any changes, then key that into the EHR.

Also, while you’re checking in, she’ll be busy doing many tasks.  She has to create an account for your visit, possibly make sure she gets your co-pay (which she may be very uncomfortable asking for), enter your insurance information, gather and scan all that paperwork you filled out.  She may have to help doctors and nurses in the clinic, answer ringing phones, and sometimes also make appointments.

Unfortunately, what she doesn’t have much time for is engaging with you.  That’s one reason why in some offices, the receptionist sits behind a frosted glass window that pops open only to deliver and collect the clipboard, then snaps back shut.  Yep, I’m a former medical receptionist, and I’ll tell you, it can be a tough job.

Technology is well-developed enough that we should be able to improve on this situation significantly. So many of the things described above don’t HAVE to happen at check-in. They could happen before check-in, if we can deliver the needed experience to a patient’s mobile device. This frees the receptionist to create a positive experience with each patient and frees patients from re-writing the same information over and over. It gets patients engaged in the appointment before the appointment has begun, driving down no-show rates. It can help increase co-pay collections because software always asks for that co-pay. It can cut down on wait times in the clinic and end last minute surprises that may be lurking in a patient’s medical history forms.

This is just one area where Health IT can help to enhance the patient experience.  In this week’s HITsm chat, let’s talk about some of the challenges we face around registration, and how implementing a pre-registration process can help overcome them.

Topics for this week’s #HITsm Chat:

T1: Have you ever used an online pre-registration tool ahead of a clinic or hospital visit?  If so, did using the tool help smooth the visit process once at your appointment? Describe your experience. #HITsm

T2: How do you see CMS’ proposed “Promoting Interoperability” rules affecting open data sharing across healthcare networks? #HITsm

T3: How can we ensure technology enhances, rather than detracts from the patient experience? #HITsm

T4: What on-premises processes do you feel could or should be moved to pre-registration? #HITsm

T5: What do you feel are some of the barriers are to patient portal adoption? #HITsm

Bonus:  Approximately how many pages was the largest packet of paperwork you’ve ever had to fill out for a medical appointment? #HITsm

Upcoming #HITsm Chat Schedule
6/28 – The State of Behavioral Healthcare
Hosted by Dr. Reena Pande (@reena_pande) from @AbleTo_Health

We look forward to learning from the #HITsm community! As always, let us know if you’d like to host a future #HITsm chat or if you know someone you think we should invite to host.

If you’re searching for the latest #HITsm chat, you can always find the latest #HITsm chat and schedule of chats here.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of HealthcareScene.com, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference, EXPO.health, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.