The Medical Group Management Association’s most recent MGMA Stat poll asked healthcare leaders if their practice utilizes check-in technology (e.g., check-in kiosk, registration tablet). In response, 36% answered “yes,” while 64% answered “no.” Asked how this technology has improved front office efficiency, respondents who answered “yes” reported:
- It improved accuracy and allows time to receive the patient rather than just processing information.
- It helped mainly with collections, leading to an increase in copay collection and a more standardized process.
- It heightened awareness of patient arrivals and wait times.
Respondents who answered “no” reported:
- They feared that older patients would struggle with the technology.
- Physicians and front desk staff, frustrated with the EHR and electronic charting, are very resistant to using new technology.
- Cost was a prohibitive factor.
- They prefer the personal interaction with patients.
This poll was conducted on July 23, 2019, with 1,366 applicable responses.
A recent MGMA Research & Analysis report, Optimization of healthcare technology to improve patient engagement, took a closer look at the issues behind implementing patient engagement technologies, including check-in technology.
Online, kiosk and/or iPad/tablet check-in options have become increasingly used by practices because they avoid the dreaded clipboard and pen lag time, especially when patients do not show up before the scheduled appointment. During check-in, front desk teams greet and guide patients to a kiosk where they can sign financial responsibility and other forms and staff can flag patients who need to re-sign or input new health insurance information.
Joy Schwartz, RN, DNP, MBA, HCA, office administrator, Atlantic Surgical Group, Oakhurst, N.J., says her practice had more than a dozen documents for new patients to sign. iPad tablets tethered to the waiting room seats were integrated to EHR systems and prompted each patient for the appropriate updates — freeing front desk staff to expedite check-in.
Patients can also log into patient portals prior to their visit to preregister via their tablet, laptop or cell phone. Schwartz reports 75% patient uptake for preregistration vs. 20% of patients completing registration when they come in for their visit. Patient engagement has skyrocketed, and the system enabled the practice to implement an electronic billing system, meaning more payments collected in a timelier fashion.
Preregistration and in-office tablets helped the practice save money and freed staff from time-consuming paperwork review and revision. They now focus on their patients, which has improved the practice-patient relationship. Patients who preregister report feeling empowered and can get help from friends or family if they’re unable to use the system themselves. The system itself will kick out missing or illegible fields until they are complete, resulting in more complete records overall. Then, data analytics from the system provides insight and prompts staff to make additional improvements for better usage statistics. Additionally, capturing patient medical information during preregistration can provide a more complete and accurate look at medical history and medication, leading to improved patient care.
Check-in technologies keys to success:
- Create a strategy for communicating to patients about the new process. Many vendors can help.
- Keep your super-user community front and center as the audience you need to please. These key stakeholders and the patients they serve will be interacting most frequently with the technology and should be solidly on board.
- Talk to a practice similar to your own that adopted the technology you are reviewing to find out what they would have done differently and what they suggest you replicate.
Keep in mind:
- Develop a plan to address issues that may pose barriers to check-in technology adoption. Issues may include:
- Privacy concerns as others may be able to see the entries on the iPad or kiosk
- Technical barriers with patients who may not be comfortable using the new system
- Maintenance costs of tablets/kiosks
- Wi-Fi connectivity and security issues, especially in many rural settings.
Schwartz also cautions that the testing and implementation phase must be carefully managed, as they can determine the success of the integration. “Take your time,” warns Schwartz. “Don’t move forward until key stakeholders are totally satisfied and have approved the new workflow process.”
To read the full the report, visit MGMA DataDive. Click on 'Exclusive Research Insights' in the top navigation bar.
- Registration: Are you in sync? (MGMA Insight article)
- End of the line: Implementing patient registration kiosks (MGMA Connection article)
- Core tenets of effective patient engagement in medical practices (MGMA Insight article)
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