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  • Zak Bartley

6 Myths About Online Patient Forms Debunked

Registration is a mandatory part of your intake process before new patients can see a healthcare provider. There’s no way around it, every practice has to collect contact information, medical history, and insurance identification before delivering quality care to new patients.  Every practice needs patient forms.


Hospital staff working on patient forms

When was the last time you registered for an event or club using pen and paper? Yet, some practices still use outdated pen and paper to collect new patient information right before the start of an appointment. Thrusting a clipboard at a new patient as they enter the office might have been acceptable in the past, but in today’s technology-driven age, there’s a better way to securely and efficiently gather information on the people who are going to trust you with their health.


Some practices think they’ve modernized their registration process by providing patients access to downloadable patient form online. In reality, they’re actually adding an extra step to their on-boarding workflow. This is a step in the right direction but it’s not helping much. Thats like google maps requiring you to print the map before leaving home.


Unfortunately, there are many common misconceptions about online patient forms. This has prevented clinical practices from implementing the automated solution to save time and money. Not to mention, attracting new patients and retaining existing ones.



Here are six of the most common myths floating about online patient forms.


“Our Older Patient Population Doesn’t Use The Internet”



It’s true that seniors are slower to adopt technology. Yet, according to Pew Research Center the number of men and women over the age of 65 who own smartphones has more than doubled since 2013.



Theres still a slight divide in the use of technology between older and younger generations. Older generations are more technology-savvy than ever before. In fact, more than half of adults older than 65 use high-speed internet at their home.


“Patients Won’t Provide Their Social Security Numbers Online”



The internet can be overwhelming, and security should always be top of mind when giving information online. Most consumers and patients are familiar with filling out identifiable information online. Given all the banking and online bill payments, it’s normal for healthcare practices to ask the same.


“Online Forms Will Burden My Staff”



There’s no question that clinical office staff is already stretched thin. Juggling a myriad of administrative tasks, trying to answer the phone and greet patients with a smile. However, online patient forms do the opposite. Eliminating the need for staff to manually update patient records. Getting rid of scanning or transcribing pen and paper records.



Automating this process of collection will free up time for higher value activities.


“Online Forms Are Too Expensive”



How much are you spending today to maintain paper records?



How many extra patients could you have treated or examined if you didn’t get behind schedule. Could forms have improved the office efficiency? Or, think about the cost of the following:


How many new patients don’t show for their initial appointment each month?

How many patients leave your practice each month after learning that you don’t take their insurance?



Inefficient processes may actually be costing you quite a bit more than you realize. While online patient forms may seem like an investment, it’s a necessary one to protect your bottom line. Soon the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) will change payment models for healthcare providers in 2019. Your practice will be prepared to demonstrate effectiveness and quality of care. if not, a practice would risk a profit drop due to a flawed registration process that impacts care.


“Online Forms Take Too Much Time to Fill Out”



Most paper and pen forms take at least 20 minutes to complete. This likely comes as no surprise to you, as you’re familiar with the backed up schedules affected by form completion. Filled with redundant questions and a large volume of paperwork, the paper registration is a cumbersome chore that often takes more time than people realize.



When patients fill out secure forms online, they can take their time to thoughtfully answer with the most up-to-date information. They are free of the stress of rushing while eyes are watching them. Online forms can often be completed in less than 10 minutes, even if the patient needs to stop and come back to the form in multiple sittings. Patient Studio forms, for example, auto-populate redundant information so patients don’t have to waste time providing the same information twice.



And, 24/7 online access ensures the patient can fill out the forms whenever is convenient for them, as long as it’s in advance of their appointment. The payoff is being able to get in and out of their healthcare office quicker so they can get back to the things in their life that they enjoy.


“Online Forms Aren’t HIPAA Compliant”



HIPAA regulations require clinical practices to use secure, encrypted websites when collecting personal and medical information. If your practice is considering using online patient forms, sign a business agreement with your vendor to assure protection and privacy of your patient’s critical information.



In contrast, what is not HIPAA compliant is having patients download a registration form, fill it out, and then email it to the practice. This is like mailing a postcard that anyone who comes across it can view. Unless the email is encrypted, relying on this mode of communication poses a serious liability for your clinical practice.



The truth is that swapping static PDF downloads for online patient intake forms can result in significant time and cost savings. Your practice will run more effectively and onboard new patients quickly. No patient will miss the stack of papers that used to greet them on a clipboard.



Ultimately, you know your practice and patient population best, but don’t let these common misconceptions dissuade you from doing what would be most beneficial for the majority of your patients—and for your staff. Chances are your patients are already using technology to manage almost every other aspect of their lives. Why should their health and wellness be any different?