Imagine you’re getting ready to take a well-deserved vacation over the holidays, dreading the impending experience at the airport, which you anticipate to be a zoo. What is your first step to making the process as painless as possible? Easy – you check in online. This is exactly the way you want your patients to view your patient portal. Consumers today like to feel self-sufficient. They shop online, check themselves out in the grocery store – so why should your patients approach their own health care any differently?
Dr. Joseph Smith, M.D. PhD stated in a recent blog: "If our healthcare system were to implement the automation, connection and coordination that other industries have used to change the face of consumer engagement, boosting patient engagement wouldn't be an issue. We would instead be easing the burdens on the very patients we are trying to help."
A state-of-the-art patient portal, like MediTouch's YourHealthFile patient portal, that will serve your patients and make your practice more efficient at the same time should include a sophisticated check-in feature. With a good online check-in feature, your staff will no longer need to retype the many pages of paper forms that patients traditionally filled out at the office. MediTouch YourHealthFile's check-in feature is completely customizable and allows you to select which pages or forms your patients can access in the check-in process, including editable PDFs. Any updates to a patient's family, medical, surgical or social history as well as immunizations are automatically added to the patient's encounter summary in the EHR. Patients can complete all of their forms conveniently from anywhere they choose, on any computer, their smart phone or tablet. As you might surmise, the online check in greatly decreases waiting time and receptionist time used to check patients in and congestion in the waiting room. Some point out that moving patients through the waiting room quicker also reduces their risk of picking up infections, even if it plays but a minor contribution to the overall health of their patients.
Ultimately, with patient portal features like the check in, your patients will feel more empowered in their health care – but they also appreciate the time-shifting you're allowing them. Just like you, your patients are busy. Everybody is pressed for time. In many cases, your office hours are their office hours, and requiring them to spend more time filling out forms in your waiting room causes them added stress or inconvenience. Giving your patients the freedom and control to prepare for their appointment in their down time can only benefit both parties.
The trend of empowering patients through technology is only gaining momentum. The number of physicians providing their patients with access to view, download or transmit their electronic health information is greatly increasing, as pointed out in a recent article compiled by HealthIT.gov highlighting the reality that the majority of providers are now granting online access to health information. The same article shows that 81% of those who accessed their health information online found it useful and more than half of individuals who were offered access viewed their health record within the past year.