In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare organizations have stepped up their safety protocols, including social distancing and face-mask requirements, to safely accommodate in-person visits.
Those enhanced protocols remain critical as coronavirus cases surge across the U.S., and providers continue to look for more ways to reduce potential virus exposure for both patients and staff, including during the intake process.
Contactless patient intake is a technology-enabled workflow that allows patients to safely and conveniently check in for appointments on their own device from their home, their car or any other location.
Faced with the ongoing challenges of a rapidly changing healthcare environment, here are four reasons why your practice should implement contactless patient intake.
Contactless check-in reduces face-to-face interaction between patients and staff
Social distancing is difficult to maintain with traditional check-in processes. Physical waiting rooms typically require patients to sit near each other and interact closely with front-office staff.
A digital, contactless intake experience, however, is specifically designed with patient and staff safety in mind. First, patients receive an email or text message with a link to register for their upcoming appointment, allowing them to complete their registration and check in for their visit from anywhere on their personal computer or mobile device. Once they arrive for their visit, patients notify front-office staff from outside the medical facility. Staff members then text patients to let them know when their exam room is ready and direct them to enter.
By reducing unnecessary face-to-face contact during the check-in process, patients can feel safer when they come to see their provider for appointments they may have put off, such as those for preventive or follow-up care. This is especially important, given that many patients have delayed care during the pandemic. Adult primary care visits dropped as much as 52% during the pandemic and are only now beginning to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Contactless patient intake allows staff to work remotely
As vital as it is for patients to feel safe returning for in-person appointments, it’s equally important to be sure that staff members feel comfortable coming to work.
With contactless intake, staff members can remotely manage check-in without the need to physically handle patients’ paperwork, ID cards, insurance cards or credit cards. All necessary intake tasks can be completed digitally, including screening patients for self-reported COVID-19 risk factors. This capability flags any at-risk patients before they arrive at the practice and directs them to the appropriate care site. And, since many of the intake tasks have been automated, staff members can focus more of their time on higher-priority responsibilities—in a safer work environment.
With a contactless patient intake workflow in place, healthcare organizations can be assured that their front-office staff members are working safely and efficiently without negatively affecting the patient experience.
Contactless check-in supports different types of appointment workflows
The pandemic has motivated many healthcare organizations to seek new ways to conduct in-person visits, including drive-through appointments, car intake and triage tents. Contactless patient intake can accommodate these types of appointment workflows, while providing a consistently safe and streamlined experience for both patients and staff.
Using contactless patient intake for walk-in visits, drive-through appointments and other workflows allows care teams to send patients a registration link to check in when they arrive, and then communicate onsite instructions. Even in more urgent and unscheduled check-in scenarios, contactless intake helps to ensure that patients and staff remain safe throughout the registration process.
Contactless intake positions healthcare organizations to provide the care experience patients want during the pandemic and beyond
The need for heightened safety measures indicates that contactless patient intake will continue to provide an invaluable service in the near term. Plus, patients have responded well to a safer intake process. According to research from Phreesia Patient Insights, 77% of patients are satisfied with their contactless patient intake experience.
However, while the pandemic will end at some point, patients’ preferences for convenience and flexibility are here to stay.
A new report from Kaufman Hall found that not only has the pandemic accelerated demand for more consumer-friendly healthcare services such as mobile check-in, providers who don’t keep these added conveniences after the crisis ends may struggle to compete. That analysis aligns with pre-pandemic consumer behaviors, with 80% of patients saying they would switch providers for “convenience factors” alone.
Contactless intake helps keep patients and staff safe, but it also helps healthcare providers embrace a more modern, convenient care delivery model that better meets patients’ expectations. Instead of sitting in a waiting room, patients can complete all of their necessary intake tasks before their appointment from any location, on their own device. Completing intake in a personal environment, rather than in a busy waiting room, may further encourage patients to provide more comprehensive responses on their intake forms, resulting in more productive conversations with their doctor.
Before the pandemic, patients wanted the same ease and convenience from their healthcare experience that they already receive in other industries. If anything, the pandemic has only amplified those expectations, making it more important than ever for healthcare organizations to prioritize a seamless, contactless patient intake experience as a part of their long-term strategy.
Learn how Phreesia supports contactless check-in workflows, including at-home and car check-in.