What Is Patient Intake? Methods and Strategies to Improve

Mia Jensen | January 5, 2024 | 20 min read
What Is Patient Intake? Methods and Strategies to Improve

Believe it or not, 86% of all errors in healthcare are administrative, contributing to preventable medical errors - a dark horse that claims about 400,000 lives each year.

Let’s tackling the major yet often overlooked player behind these alarming stats - Patient Intake. Data management is the industry’s most powerful tool, yet also its biggest hurdle.

And managing all that information can be challenging with the wrong tools. Healthcare data management ranges from names to insurance details to medical histories. Collecting and verifying these, especially when patients are stressed or hurried, is challenging.

86% of all errors in healthcare are administrative

Add to that the many people involved in patient intake - receptionists, nurses, doctors, you name it. The more hands in the pie, the more chances for miscommunication and errors. Plus, many intake processes are still painfully manual, opening the door for data entry mistakes.

This data management conundrum also hits where it hurts - the wallet. A jaw-dropping 25% of all U.S. hospital spending goes to administrative costs. These costs get passed onto patients, putting both hospitals and patients in a risky spot.

We’re here to help you understand and improve patient intake with tips and tricks to make it better, safer, and more efficient. Ready to help your patients, cheer up your team, and smooth out your operations?

Table of Contents

What Is Patient Intake?

Patient intake refers to the process of collecting patient information needed to facilitate healthcare treatment. This could include basic information such as name, date of birth, and contact details, as well as more complex information such as medical history, current symptoms, and insurance coverage.

The patient intake process sets the tone for the entire healthcare experience. It sets the foundation for the patient-provider relationship and can impact care outcomes.

Why Is Patient Intake Important?

Consider Patient Intake as your healthcare GPS! This essential step loads you with crucial data such as a patient’s medical backstory and current health status. From personal details to insurance info, this initial data collection is your ticket to mapping effective care and treatment plans.

Importance of Patient Intake

A seamless patient intake experience can boost patient satisfaction, creating a positive first impression of your healthcare practice.

Moreover, an efficient intake process reduces administrative strain and minimizes the risk of costly errors affecting patient health and financial outcomes.

Benefits of Using Patient Intake Software

An effective patient intake system streamlines the patient experience and enhances patient satisfaction. It aims to accomplish the following:

Enhance Patient Experience and Satisfaction

A smooth intake process is the key to unlocking a positive healthcare journey. It helps reduce patient stress and paves the way for increased satisfaction.

Effective patient onboarding puts patient experience front and center. Patients feel valued and heard when you deliver compassionate care, minimize wait times, and make them feel valued.

Improve Data Accuracy

Patient intake isn’t merely about collecting data. It’s about accurately and comprehensively gathering every piece of patient information, from personal details to medical history.

This complete data collection is vital in shaping their care, leading to a more accurate understanding of their health status and better-informed treatment decisions.

Boost Operational Efficiency and Maximize Resource Utilization

An effective patient intake process maximizes resource efficiency, making the most out of staff, equipment, and technology. This approach reduces wait times and improves patient flow.

Moreover, streamlining the intake process lightens the administrative load, allowing more time for direct patient care.

Reduce Errors and Inefficiencies

The main goal of an intake process is to minimize errors and inefficiencies. This helps to enhance patient safety, improve health outcomes, and reduce costs.

Build Trust

An efficient patient onboarding experience can foster a stronger rapport between patients and practitioners, establishing a foundation of trust.

Common Use Cases for Patient Intake

Patient intake is a versatile process that finds application in various healthcare scenarios. Here are some common use cases where patient onboarding plays a crucial role:

New Patient Registration

When patients visit a healthcare facility for the first time, the intake process collects their personal information, medical history, insurance details, and HIPAA-compliant consent forms to establish their healthcare records.

Hospital Admissions

Patient intake is essential during hospital admissions. The intake process gathers vital information about the patient’s condition, allergies, medications, and specific care instructions.

Specialist Consultations

When patients visit a specialist or a specific healthcare department, the patient intake process ensures the collection of information relevant to their condition, enabling the specialist to provide targeted care.

Common Use Cases for Patient Intake

Scheduling Appointments

Patient intake information is used to schedule appointments with healthcare providers, allowing them to select a suitable time for the appointment.

Triage Patients

Patient intake information can be used to triage patients, which is the process of prioritizing patients based on their medical needs. This information can be used to decide which patients need to be seen instantly and which patients can wait.

Emergency Room Visits

Patient intake is crucial in emergency situations. Quick but accurate data collection about the patient’s condition, allergies, medical history, and current symptoms enables physicians to make timely and informed decisions.

Outpatient Clinics

Even in routine outpatient visits, patient intake is necessary to update medical records, assess changes in the patient’s health status, and determine the course of treatment or further examinations.

Billing Patients

Patient intake information is used to bill patients for healthcare services. This information can be used to specify the patient’s insurance coverage and the cost of the provided services.

Research Purposes

Patient intake information can be used for research purposes to identify patient care trends and develop new treatments and interventions.

Telehealth or Virtual Visits

In the era of remote healthcare, patient intake has extended to virtual settings. It allows patients to provide information online or through teleconferencing before the virtual appointment, ensuring a smooth and efficient virtual consultation.

12 Practical Strategies for Streamlining Patient Intake in 2023

Successfully implementing patient intake requires careful planning and execution. Here are 12 effective strategies to successfully implement patient intake in 2023:

1. Implementing Electronic Health Records (EHRs)

Implementing electronic health records (EHRs) is like giving the patient intake process a turbo boost. It’s the ultimate tool for streamlining and supercharging how we collect and store patient data. No more messy paper files or deciphering illegible handwriting.

With EHRs, providers can effortlessly capture and securely store patient information digitally, ensuring accuracy and easy accessibility.

But that’s not all! EHRs revolutionize communication between physicians too. No more frantic phone calls or faxing back and forth. Healthcare providers can easily share patient data with a few clicks. It significantly reduces the risk of errors and delays in providing care and enables efficient collaboration among the healthcare team.

Common Use Cases for Patient Intake

Moreover, healthcare providers can have a comprehensive view of a patient’s medical history at their fingertips. EHRs combine all the puzzle pieces, allowing for more informed decision-making and personalized care. It empowers providers to tailor treatments based on a deep understanding of the patient’s unique medical journey.

Patients can also access their medical records through EHRs. It’s a game-changer, empowering patients to actively participate in their healthcare management.

EHRs make patient intake a streamlined, efficient, and patient-centered experience. It’s time to leave the paper trail behind and enter the world of seamless electronic health records!

2. Utilizing Patient Portals

Patient portals revolutionize the way patients engage with their healthcare. From managing medical info to scheduling appointments and requesting prescription refills, patient portals streamline a significant chunk of the intake process.

But that’s not all! Patient portals put patients in the driver’s seat of their own health. They provide access to educational resources and personalized health information, empowering patients to make educated decisions about their well-being.

Moreover, providers can use patient portals to effortlessly share test results, treatment plans, and other important health info. It’s a communication game-changer, enhancing care coordination and keeping patients in the loop.

3. Pre-Registration and HIPAA-Compliant Online Forms

Want to streamline your intake process and provide secure and personalized care from the get-go? Pre-registration and HIPAA-compliant online forms are here to help you.

Instead of drowning in paperwork upon arrival, patients can complete the necessary forms online before their appointment. It’s like waving a magic wand and converting the waiting room into a hassle-free zone.

But the benefits don’t stop there! By filling out forms in advance, patients help doctors collect all the important medical information they need ahead of time. eliminates

The information entered is then seamlessly integrated into your EHR’s family file. This eliminates the need for your staff to handle, organize, and manage sensitive and protected patient data, streamlining your workflow and enhancing data security.

No more scrambling to gather data during the visit. It’s a time-saver that paves the way for a seamless, modern, and efficient intake process.

Moreover, pre-registration and online forms give healthcare providers a head start. They can review the forms before the patient even enters the office, identifying potential issues or concerns. This proactive approach means more personalized care, as physicians can address those concerns immediately.

4. Automating Appointment Reminders

Your practice is bustling, and your schedule is full, yet no-shows and late arrivals disrupt the flow of the day. It’s frustrating, isn’t it? There’s a solution at your fingertips – automated appointment reminders.

It’s like having a 24/7 assistant that works tirelessly, mitigating the risk of missed appointments and increasing your practice’s efficiency. It brings relief to your schedule, reduces wait times, and ultimately enhances the patient experience.

Automating Appointment Reminders

The beauty lies in customization. Each reminder can be tailored to meet the unique needs of your patients, delivering the right information at the right time. Plus, patients can confirm or reschedule their appointments in real time, providing you with instant updates.

Automated reminders streamline your practice and create a more cost-effective operation. You can redirect resources from chasing down confirmations to focusing on top-notch patient-centric care.

5. Embrace Online Appointment Scheduling

Enabling patients to book their own appointments can enhance the patient intake procedure. It eases the load on your front office team. It also lets your patients explore your practice and services through your website, making their first impression even before stepping into your office.

Remember, online scheduling is your first interaction with your patients. If patients encounter a complicated and time-consuming booking process, there’s a greater chance they might abandon it altogether. But here’s where DemandHub’s online scheduling software steps in.

DemandHub’s simple integration with your website can turn visitors into paying patients, so you never lose an appointment opportunity! DemandHub sends appointment reminders and follow-ups via text to your patients to boost your patient inflow and satisfaction.

Embrace Online Appointment Scheduling

The result? A capacity to book more appointments each day and save your staff several hours of data entry. It’s a win-win for both your practice and your patients.

6. Adopting Text Messaging

Adopting two-way communication via SMS is a smart move for healthcare providers in this fast-paced, digitally-driven world. Here’s why:

  • Instant and Direct Communication: SMS provides a quick and direct line of communication. It allows patients to receive immediate updates and reminders while giving them a platform to ask questions or voice concerns.
  • High Open Rates: Statistics show that 95% of text messages are read within 5 minutes, making SMS an incredibly effective communication tool. This ensures your message will be seen and not lost in a cluttered inbox.
  • Convenience for Patients: Many people prefer text messaging because it’s convenient and fits seamlessly into their busy lives. Patients can read and respond at their own pace, reducing the pressure a phone call might bring.
  • Automated Yet Personalized: With platforms like DemandHub, you can automate SMS reminders or updates, reducing the burden on your staff. At the same time, these messages can be personalized to each patient, making them feel valued and cared for.
  • Improved Efficiency: Two-way patient text messaging can help streamline operations. Patients can confirm appointments or request rescheduling via text, reducing the number of missed appointments and improving overall efficiency.
  • Increased Engagement: Text messages can carry more than just appointment reminders. They can include health tips, surveys, and relevant updates, increasing patient engagement and satisfaction.
  • Cost-Effective: Compared to traditional communication methods like phone calls or postal mail, SMS is a cost-effective solution that saves time and resources.

By adopting text marketing, physicians can improve their service, boost patient satisfaction, and streamline operations while maintaining a personal touch.

7. Building a Strong Online Reputation

Think about this: don’t you check out their online reviews first when choosing a new restaurant? Well, guess what? Your patients do the same thing.

94% of patients check online reviews before choosing a physician.

Your online reputation is your digital storefront. It’s your website, social media, and patient reviews. They’re like the window display of your practice, giving patients a sneak peek into what they can expect.

Building a Strong Online Reputation

A welcoming website, buzzing social media channels, and a trail of positive patient reviews? That’s like a neon sign that says, “We’re the best in the biz!”

But don’t think it stops at a fancy website and five-star reviews. Nope, it’s about creating a conversation with your patient community. Engage with their comments, respond to reviews, listen to their concerns, and share stuff that educates and informs them.

And when negative feedback pops up? And it will – nobody’s perfect – handle it with grace and professionalism. When addressed right, it demonstrates your dedication to your patients. It shows you’re not just about the good times, but you’re there to make things right when they go south.

So, in a nutshell, a solid online reputation isn’t just a nice-to-have; it’s a must-have. It’s your shining star in the crowded healthcare space, helping to draw in new patients and keep the existing ones happy and engaged.

DemandHub helps you manage your online reputation, get more positive reviews, and streamline your patient journey.

We bring new patients to you by integrating DemandHub’s CX tools into your healthcare websites, such as text messages, Web Chat, Online Scheduling, contactless payments processing, and much more.

With DemandHub’s modern messaging capabilities, you can start a two-way conversation with your patients. Send messages with review links directly to patients, enabling them to post a review in 30 seconds or less — all with just a few clicks.

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get your digital glow on!

8. Gathering Insurance and Payment Details

Your patients already use online payments in all other areas of their life. So, isn’t it only fair they expect the same convenience with their care provider?

With DemandHub, you can use electronic intake forms to verify and collect insurance and payment details. This will make the payment process smoother.

Imagine having this vital information already on file. It’s a real time-saver, not just for your patients but also for your staff on future visits.

Gathering Insurance and Payment Details

You can ping your patients when their payment is due with DemandHub’s automated reminders. The result? A load of saved time and paperwork for your staff, letting them shift their focus to tasks that help your practice flourish.

So, offering convenience pays off. Embrace the digital era with DemandHub and watch your practice grow.

9. Leveraging Patient Portals to Reduce Wait Times

Patient portals are a modern solution to a classic problem in healthcare: long wait times. By adopting these digital platforms, physicians can drastically streamline patient intake.

Patient portals enable patients to manage multiple aspects of their care online, reducing the need for administrative support. Patients can schedule appointments, view test results, and update personal information, all without needing to call or visit the office.

Moreover, they can review their health records anytime, enhancing transparency and trust. It also means less time spent explaining background health issues during appointments, leading to more efficient visits.

10. Post-Appointment Follow-ups: The Key to Patient Retention

After a patient’s first appointment, the next step is securing their return. Automated follow-ups are your best friend here.

Send a warm appreciation note thanking them for choosing your practice. You can also share links to your social media or other useful resources.

This way, you’re not just saying thanks but also showcasing the value they get by being a part of your healthcare family.

Now, let’s talk about those patients who somehow fell through the cracks during the intake process. Don’t worry. It happens.

But here’s a solution: integrate these patients into a recall process. Send them gentle reminders nudging them to complete the process. Because, let’s face it, we could all use a little reminder now and then.

And for those who’ve successfully been onboarded? Well, the game has just begun. It’s now all about retaining them and delivering exceptional care.

11. Measuring the Success of Your Patient Intake Process

Onboarding patients isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it process; it needs regular evaluation and tweaking. As you understand the intake process better and collect feedback about any hiccups in form submission, you can make adjustments to create a seamless onboarding process.

This is where DemandHub shines. It’s a powerful command center dashboard with key metrics like form drop-offs, bookings, cancellations, patient satisfaction, and other valuable insights. It’s like having a detailed report card on how your patients engage with your practice.

By routinely reviewing these metrics, you can promptly address any issues, preventing patients from falling through the cracks.

12. Optimizing Patient Experience With Satisfaction Surveys

Patient satisfaction surveys are a goldmine of insights. They are a critical feedback tool that reveals the true patient experience.

Consistently seeking patient feedback sheds light on areas of your intake process that could use a little fine-tuning. It helps you see where you’re rocking it and where you could step up your game.

Using surveys to improve your intake process is like setting up a feedback loop - you learn, you tweak, you improve. It’s an ongoing process, keeping your practice in a constant state of becoming even better.

The bottom line? Patient satisfaction surveys are more than just a questionnaire. They’re your secret ingredient to building a more efficient, patient-centric intake process.

5 Best Patient Intake Software

Ready to shift into high gear and introduce digital patient intake forms into your practice? We have five great tools that can make this vision a reality. Buckle up, and let’s explore:

1. DemandHub

Best suited for: Healthcare practices who want to offer online patient intake forms across various specialties, including medical, dental, chiropractic, and more.

DemandHub

DemandHub is an all-in-one digital powerhouse for an exceptional patient experience. It provides a complete suite of features, from onboarding patients and scheduling appointments to collecting payments and reviews, as well as sending text reminders to reduce no-shows.

Finding a patient intake solution that fits well with your Practice Management System (PMS) or Electronic Health Records (EHRs) can be challenging. DemandHub has got your back with its versatile API. It can integrate with multiple systems, making patient onboarding smooth sailing for everyone involved.

2. OperaDDS

Best Suited for: Practices using Dentrix, OrthoTrac, Open Dental, and other dental practice management software.

OperaDDS

Source: OperaDDS.com

OperaDDS is a paper-free alternative for your clinic. It delivers HIPAA-compliant patient registration forms, reminders, and reviews tailored for dental practices. It simplifies the data collection process by automatically integrating intake forms into your practice management system, eliminating the need for manual data entry.

3. Intiveo

Best suited for: medical practices who want to send messages in multiple languages.

Intiveo

Source: Intiveo.com

Intiveo is a patient communication platform that helps healthcare practitioners connect with their patients. With features like automated appointment reminders, two-way messaging, recall campaigns, reputation management, and patient surveys, Intiveo aims to improve patient engagement and reduce missed appointments.

It provides healthcare practices the tools they need to enhance communication strategies and streamline patient interactions.

4. AdvancedMD

Best suited for: independent clinics, mental health, and physical therapy practices offering telemedicine.

AdvancedMD

Source: AdvancedMD.com

AdvacesMD is a comprehensive EHR and practice management software. It offers features like a patient portal, appointment reminders, and telemedicine options, making the patient intake process smoother and more user-friendly.

5. Legwork

Best suited for: practice using EagleSoft, Dentrix, NexHealth, OpenDental, Denticon.

Legwork

Source: Legwork.com

Legwork’s marketing growth platform enhances the patient experience throughout the entire patient lifecycle. It streamlines patient intake, cuts costs, and builds stronger patient relationships.

Legwork’s customizable drag-and-drop form builder enables practices to create personalized and efficient paperless healthcare forms, contributing to a more seamless and satisfying patient experience.

Make Patient Intake a Winning Experience With DemandHub

Alright, let’s bring it home. Patient intake isn’t just a step in the healthcare journey. It’s the opening act that sets the stage for the entire experience. By finding creative ways to streamline this process and amp up patient experience, you’re not just making things easier but improving patient outcomes and satisfaction.

But how do you know you’re hitting the mark? Turn to your trusty allies: KPIs, satisfaction surveys, and regular procedure reviews. These are your navigational beacons, guiding you toward continuous improvement.

Ultimately, optimizing patient intake is all about providing top-notch patient care. Because when your patients are winning, so are you.

Embrace the patient intake solution from DemandHub - a streamlined, easy-to-access platform that gives you and your patients confidence.

Ready to take the leap into a digital future? Book a demo with DemandHub today. Let’s usher in a new era of patient care that keeps pace with the times and puts your patients at the forefront. Here’s to a future where everyone wins!

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