Steps To A Seamless Patient Intake Process

February 16, 2018

With a greater emphasis on the importance of patient experience and the new year well underway, what better time to improve your practice’s patient intake process? Although it is a necessary part of any visit to a medical office, the patient intake process can be one of the most frustrating aspects of a patient’s experience.

To design an efficient and effective intake process for your practice, it is important to view the process through the eyes of the patients. Consider their time constraints, frustrations, and overall experience during their wait time. Keeping the tips listed below in mind will help make your intake process successful.

Tips for a seamless patient intake process:

  1. Give patients a head start on paperwork to reduce their wait time and increase efficiency of the intake process.

    a. For New Patients: Provide all required documentation prior to their first appointment. Send via mail, email, and/or an online patient portal platform to complete before they arrive.

    b. For Current Patients: Ask patients if there have been any changes to their patient information and make updates as necessary. Updates may include changes to contact information, insurance coverage, clinical information and home address. You may also want to note the reason for their visit.
  1. Keep intake forms as concise as possible. Go paperless.

    For convenience, offering forms via an online patient portal makes it easy for patients, both new and returning, to review and complete required intake steps prior to arrival. Online portals also offer access to a patient’s billing information, medical records and assistance with appointment scheduling.
  1. Upon arrival, greet patients warmly and provide an inviting waiting area. Let patients know an estimated wait time and keep informed of any delays. 

    Welcome all patients and guests when they walk into your practice and when possible, greet patients by name.  Creating a comfortable waiting area is very important to a patient’s overall experience.  Offer patients an estimated wait time to set the expectation. Keeping them informed of any delays eliminates anxiety around unknown wait times. These simple steps will allow patients to establish a sense of comfort at your medical practice and convey that you respect their personal schedule.

  1. Update/enter patient information into database. Collect co-payment, deductibles and any outstanding balances.

    Make changes to patient information promptly. Let the patient know up front their current account balance and what co-payment or deductibles they may owe. Explain to the patient what they are being billed for and their payment options.  It is important to have billing specialists available to discuss questions, comments and concerns from patients via phone and in person.
  1. Notify your staff that the patient has arrived and is ready to be seen.

    Promote a healthy communication model between physicians and staff. An open line of communication allows everyone to be prepared, even for the unexpected. 

  2. Following up and sending patient experience surveys. 

    a.  Setting future appointments, sending appointment reminders and designating follow-ups and/or reminder calls will enhance the patient’s experience and their likeliness to return or refer new patients to your practice.

    b.  Sending a patient satisfaction survey after their appointment is a great way to gain feedback and insights into how well your staff interacts with patients.

    Newsletters and appointment reminders are a good way to keep in touch with your patients.


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