Sep 26, 2021

The future patient onboarding process is digital

digitalhealthcare
Cloudtechnology
Hospitals
Technology
5 min
The future patient onboarding process is digital
Attar Naderi, UK Business Manager at Laserfiche describes the benefits of implementing a digital process for patient onboarding

During the crux of the pandemic, hospital systems globally were under a grave amount of pressure. Overworked staff, lack of resources and an overwhelming number of patients, coupled with the fear of the unknown, caused hospitals to be stretched way too thin.

But the crisis has also spurred innovation. The need to make the best possible use of staff time has accelerated the digital transformation plans already underway, including the adoption of cloud computing. The use of cloud in healthcare has proliferated in the last few years and has certainly become a priority investment for the healthcare industry worldwide. 

In fact, BDO Consulting found that 93% of healthcare organisations globally have already adopted a digital transformation strategy, with over there-quarters (78%) already deploying cloud computing in their operations, and a further fifth (20%) intending to spend on its deployment. So, how can leaders seize this opportunity and make the most of the cloud revolution in healthcare?

Implementing a digital front door

As patient expectations evolve, providing a faster, modern experience is of utmost importance for healthcare. A recent McKinsey report found that two-fifths (40%) of consumers expect telehealth services such as a “digital front door” to continue post-COVID 19, providing a seamless customer interface will be important in growing the digital health space as the pandemic wanes. 

An example of this is Nature Coast Women's Care & Family Medicine, located in Florida, which modernised the patient experience using technology and shortened patient wait times by three-quarters (75%). The combination of technology innovation with a proactive approach to patient care will lead to a more efficient healthcare system. The practice’s strategic planning led to the implementation of cloud technology as a means to reimagine the patient intake process.

Prior to investing in technology, each Nature Coast patient would need to fill out mundane and time-consuming paperwork which would take 15 minutes, sometimes longer, to complete. They also had to bring various identification documents such as their license and insurance card to each appointment. 
Once the front desk staff received the paperwork, they had to check to make sure everything was complete and accurate before scanning the packet into the patient chart in the electronic medical record system. This wasted valuable time that could be spent treating patients instead.

A digital patient experience

While this legacy process was similar to many other clinics’ patient intake process, the Nature Coast team saw opportunities for improvement. By digitising the intake form, the clinic could reduce errors that may occur when patients fill the form out with a pen and paper, and ensure all necessary information is captured without having to return the form to the patient. 

Going further, the clinic could replace the in-person, manual process altogether using a digital, automated process comprising of an e-form and workflow built in a cloud content management system. Patients could have the option to submit the form online which would reduce wait times for all patients and streamline work for the practice.

With a digital front door, the patient information is put into an electronic health records system which automatically sets up the initial appointment. This seamless process can alleviate the strain on staff that are already under pressure while ensuring patients are treated quicker – a win-win situation.

Safe and secure in the cloud

Healthcare organisations handle an abundance of patient data and sensitive information, and if that information was compromised, that would be a disaster for both patients and the clinic. Storing data in the cloud, as opposed to on paper, enables the easy retrieval of patient information and improved information governance.

Data security, regulatory compliance and privacy laws play a large role in the decision-making process for healthcare organisations. The nature of these confidential documents meant that security was a top priority when choosing the technology solution to protect patient information.

For the team at Nature Coast, selecting a cloud-based content management system aligned well with the practice’s approach to technology. With a remote and distributed workforce, having access to files and electronic medical records no matter where staff are, is crucial.

By utilising cloud technology, the clinic would be able to set who has access to different folders on a granular level. This visibility combined with records management software which is DoD 5015.2-certified facilitates both patients and staff in feeling secure about the information they are putting in the system.

The impact of COVID-19 has led to more healthcare organisations accelerating their digital transformation plans and investing in cloud technology. While this innovation is positive, it’s important that organisations spend time to ensure their investments are enabled in a secure manner. After all, when it comes to healthcare, security can’t be an afterthought.

An “always on” healthcare sector

The “always on” mentality of society has quickly infiltrated the healthcare industry since the pandemic and the practicalities of remote working. The healthcare industry is no longer a stranger to the ubiquitous access to applications, data, communications tools. The focus of practitioners has shifted to the tools that they can use to build care programs with better outcomes based on smart analysis.

Mirroring the “always on” society, since implementation, Nature Coast has received positive feedback from patients and staff about the new digital intake process. With the intelligent cloud-based platforms, patients are no longer sitting in the waiting room filling out paperwork and there is no longer an issue of forgotten driver’s licenses or insurance cards as all the information will have been sent. It is no wonder that waiting times for new patients has been reduced by 75%.

This is not a siloed example. The healthcare industry as a whole continues to build on the success of a new digital patient intake process. As healthcare invests in cloud technology, there is no doubt that there will be more opportunities to invest in technology that can help automate more of their clinic’s repetitive tasks and take advantage of the process analytics software to help become more efficient. 

Afterall, the data and analytics will prove to be useful tools to increase new patient volume and the efficient process will help retain them over a long time – the right technology investments are a prescription for digital transformation.

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