Five Ways to Collect More Complete, Accurate Patient Information

shutterstock_386711368The stacks of paper forms handed to each patient serve a critical purpose: collecting information the medical practice, community health clinic or urgent care center needs for clinical, privacy and billing purposes. When forms aren’t filled out completely and accurately, or if staff has trouble interpreting a patient’s handwriting, all hell can break loose.

Gaps in medical histories can negatively impact patient care. Missing or inaccurate insurance information will lead to billing issues. Incomplete privacy forms can cause compliance problems. All of these problems can be avoided IF complete and accurate patient information is collected during the registration process. Here are five ways to ensure your organization gets the information you need:

One: Ditch the Paper Forms
Since the dawn of time, healthcare providers have relied on paper forms to collect patient information. Paper-based patient registration is inefficient, costly and full of errors. Digital patient registration solutions simplify the process, eliminate the expense of paper and greatly increase the ability to capture complete, accurate patient information. Some digital solutions like the Seamless Patient Platform™ won’t allow patients to advance to the next screen unless every question is answered!

Two: Design Visually Pleasing Forms
Most paper forms cram as many questions on a page as possible so font size and spaces for answers are very small. Often, the forms have been copied so many times they are nearly impossible to read. When patients have trouble reading the questions, they likely won’t answer questions correctly. Switching to digital forms is step one. Designing each screen with a minimal number of very readable questions is step two. The trick is to keep font size large, questions short, and no more than five to six questions per screen. This way, patients can fly through them!

Three: Limit How Much a Patient Must Write or Type
Writing long hand is laborious for most people. Even typing on a tablet can be painful for some. As much as possible, use forms that can be answered with a simple Yes/No or multiple choice. With Seamless’ digital, most questions can be answered with a single finger tap. If the patient answers yes – for example, Do you have a family history of diabetes? – additional follow-up questions will appear, enabling you to collect more information. Even with the additional questions, patients do not feel stressed or challenged because no writing is required.

Four: Simplify the Wording on Forms
Patients’ literacy levels vary widely. You may have some PhDs come through our practice, but you’ll likely have a number who have not graduated high school. Keeping the wording on forms in simple, basic language greatly increases a patient’s ability to understand the questions and provide correct information. Seamless targets a fifth grade reading level on its forms.

Five: Offer Forms in Multiple Languages
If English is not a patient’s first language, registration forms are a nightmare! The language barrier eliminates any chances of collecting complete, accurate information. Which is why Seamless offers its digital patient intake forms in English, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese, and Vietnamese. The company found that patients are immediately more comfortable with forms presented in their mother tongue and thus better able to answer all questions.

You can collect complete, accurate patient information during registration, but you’ll have to make changes to your current process. For more information on how to transform your medical practice, urgent care of community health clinic’s performance and achieve more satisfied patients, contact Seamless at info@SeamlessMedical.com.

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Paper. Who Needs It?

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You walk into the doctor’s office and the first thing the receptionist does is hand you a stack of forms to fill out. She then hands you a pen. You look at her. She looks at you and then her eyes drop to the stack. “You’ve got 10 minutes to get those done.”

You sigh and head to a chair in the corner. No one notices you; they have their own stacks of paper. You start to fill in the endless pages. Who’s my emergency contact? Does my ex-husband count? Do I have a family history of hypertension? Well, my partner does. How many times have I been pregnant? Wait, this is a dermatologist appointment. Why does that matter?

Slowly you turn the pages. The clock is ticking. You’re sweating. Just as the nurse at the door intones your name, you finish the forms. You hand the pages filled with scrawl to the receptionist and head back into the bowels of the doctor’s office. Safe at last.

This scene is repeated millions of times each day at thousands of doctors’ offices, urgent care centers and community health clinics across the country. That means there are millions of frustrated people filling out multi millions of forms, handing them to administrative people who enter the information into computers, and then shred, file or dispose of paper. Lots of lots of paper. Think about all of the time and paper that’s wasted. Think of the trees that gave their lives for your doctor’s appointment. So much for being green.

There has to be a better way. A digital solution that replaces paper forms with something fun, like an iPad, and seamlessly collects the information of millions of patients, directs it into medical information systems, eliminates tedious tasks and reduces mistakes, and at the end of the day, makes patients, doctors, nurses, and staff heave a huge sigh of relief.

Ipad_vert_angle_AWV-PreVisit_02_HRAThat solution is Seamless Medical. We’re here posing the question: who needs paper? With our Seamless Patient Platform, we’re out to change the world so you never have to complete another paper form at the doctor’s office. The receptionist will never have to decipher  bad handwriting to get it into an EMR again. And no tree will ever have to die in the name of patient registration ever again.

Cool, isn’t it? That’s why we started the company – and our blog. Want to come along as we change the world?