Two healthcare providers sit across from each other, reviewing a digital tablet together.

Patient intake efficiency: 5 strategies


Patient intake efficiency is essential for healthcare facilities. Streamlining operations isn’t just good for business — it’s imperative for improving the patient’s experience. 

While there are opportunities to improve efficiency throughout the patient’s journey, making the intake process less stressful for patients and more efficient for providers is a great first step.

A smooth intake process sets the right tone for the visit. Here are five strategies you can adopt to improve patient intake efficiency today.

1. Take advantage of online forms

Though some practices still depend on physical records, the days of paper and pen are numbered. Paper forms take a long time to fill out, and when you get them back, your patient’s handwriting might be partially or even completely illegible. Additionally, paper forms waste a lot of physical space in your office, making your practice feel cluttered and disorganized.

Today’s modern healthcare facilities enable patients to fill out medical forms electronically and communicate with healthcare providers via email or text. These types of digital communication make the intake process much smoother for patients, and they add an extra layer of protection. With all your patients’ records and information encrypted and backed up in the cloud, you don’t have to worry about misplacing a document or losing that information in a fire or flood.

Getting started with electronic intake forms may feel intimidating, but it’s a lot easier than you might think.

You don’t have to convert all your paper-based forms immediately. Start by identifying your longest, most detailed forms and convert them to an electronic format. For example, if you require new patients to fill out a lengthy New Patient Medical History Form, you can digitize it and send it via email a few days before their appointment. That way, they have plenty of time to compile their medical information and complete the form at home.

2. Make scheduling easy

As mentioned above, online intake forms can help streamline your intake process and make it more efficient. But you can start making the intake process easier much earlier in the process by using an online scheduling system. Online scheduling tools are a proven way to improve patient satisfaction and keep your schedule filled. Patients can book appointments online from anywhere and at any time — even if your office is closed for the day.

intakeQ’s online booking widget is a self-contained scheduling application that can be added to any page of your website, giving your website visitors a quick and easy way to look at your available openings and book an appointment when it’s convenient for them. When your office staff isn’t busy helping every patient schedule an appointment over the phone, they can spend time paying attention and helping the people who are physically in your office. 

Online booking is a great way to reduce phone time and increase patient satisfaction by giving patients the ability to self-schedule their appointments.

3. Leverage patient feedback

A great way to improve your intake process for new patients is by learning what your existing patients are thinking. Leveraging patient feedback can give you powerful insights into how you can improve your intake process.

For example, with intakeQ, you can create a simple questionnaire for your new patients who have already had their first appointment, asking them for feedback on what went well and what could be improved. You can use this information to streamline your intake process even further. Suppose your patients are frustrated with the length of the intake paperwork, citing that it took too long to fill out.

After you’ve made changes to your intake process, send a second questionnaire, asking a different set of new patients how they felt about their intake process. You can continue to poll a segment of your patients regularly to keep a pulse on what’s going right in your practice and what you could do better.

4. Support e-signatures

Electronic signatures — or e-signatures — are an important part of streamlining your intake process. In the United States, Canada, the European Union, and many other parts of the world, electronic signatures are a legal electronic expression of a person’s agreement to the terms of a particular document.

E-signatures will allow you to eliminate the need for patients to print and sign forms, saving printing costs, reducing clutter, and making it easy for patients to read and acknowledge documents at home before they come to your office. Electronic forms can be signed from desktops, smartphones or tablets, making it easy and convenient for patients to sign documents from anywhere. intakeQ supports electronic signatures and enables your patients to sign by typing their name or writing their signature on the screen. Once a document is signed, intakeQ keeps track of the signee’s email address and IP address for an audit trail.

5. Automate appointment reminders

There are so many reasons people don’t make it to their scheduled appointments, but if you have a system for sending appointment reminders, forgetting about it won’t be one of them. 

Appointment reminders aren’t new, but automating them is a game-changer. Instead of having your staff call each patient before their appointment or manually send emails, digital appointment reminders can be sent to their cell phone automatically.

If a new patient is coming in for their first appointment with you, their appointment reminder can include helpful information about your location, whom to contact if they need help, links to complete their on-boarding paperwork, and more.

You can make your intake process more efficient by using patient intake software. intakeQ has advanced intake and practice management technology that will help streamline your intake process, help your staff save time, and delight your patients.

If you’re looking for a great way to improve the efficiency of your practice’s intake, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial of intakeQ today. We can help your practice deal with the paperwork so that you can focus on what matters most — your patients.

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