Ways to Improve the Patient Intake Process at Your Independent Care Practice

The fast-paced world of the healthcare industry can feel even more frenzied when you work at an independent practice with a small team. The hurried pace can impact the quality of your team’s care, staff morale, and patient satisfaction — especially if patients feel rushed or neglected in their care.

Independent care practices typically don’t enjoy the benefits of entire administrative departments dedicated to managing patient scheduling and data management. Thankfully, modern-day practice management software can simplify processes for both staff and patients, better equipping small teams with the tools they need to provide an excellent patient experience.

If your independent care practice is struggling to meet or exceed your patients’ expectations, it may be time to look into new and emerging tools to simplify and expedite the patient intake process, so you can wow new patients and become their preferred provider.

What Do New Patients Expect From Care Teams?

Patients’ expectations when seeking care are as unique as their respective health histories. Studies have shown that patients’ needs and expectations are formed through many factors, including their demographics, location, past experiences with health care, and even country of origin. While a diverse clientele will have distinct perspectives, they all have one thing in common: the need to be heard and addressed individually.

Independent care practices are often engaged in fierce competition in the market in a way that major healthcare organizations are not. While few communities have multiple large hospitals to choose from, many communities are home to a number of independent care practices in a number of specialties and fields. To stay competitive in the market, independent care practices need to attract and retain patients with a smooth, intuitive, and individualized patient experience. And it all starts with patient intake.

Powerful Tools for Small Teams

Establishing, customizing, and maintaining an efficient care management system for your practice will not only streamline workflows for your team, but will demonstrate your office’s capability and trustworthiness to new patients and loyal clients alike. Equipping yourself and your staff with the right tools can improve your processes.

If your office is working with outdated, frustrating software systems, consider how the following steps throughout the patient intake process can be updated and improved for you and your team:

Appointment scheduling

The patient experience usually begins with a patient contacting a medical practice to schedule an appointment, either over the phone, online, or in person.

Tools that can help:

Scheduling software can allow front-desk staff to quickly (or even automatically) find the soonest-available time slot for a new patient. Staff can set criteria for determining the best time — like provider availability, equipment required, or by location or room — and let the software find and select the most appropriate appointment time. Automatic alerts and reminders help avoid no-shows and cancellations, preventing unanticipated dips in revenue.

Gathering patient information

At the time of scheduling, medical practices must collect basic information from the patient, such as their name, date of birth, contact information, reason for their visit, and insurance information. This process focuses on the individual, rather than their medical information.

Tools that can help:

The process of adding a new patient to your system should be swift and effortless. After creating their profile, it becomes crucial for providers, nurses, and other medical staff to access the patient’s information, which seamlessly integrates with an Electronic Health Record (EHR). This comprehensive view encompasses details about past and upcoming appointments, prescriptions, services provided, care plans, and more. Such integration ensures that administrative staff, care teams, and the patient remain well-informed and connected, fostering a conducive environment for excellent care and communication.

Patient intake forms

Patient intake forms include personal information, medical history, current medications, allergies, and other relevant details. These forms need to be filled out, submitted, and reviewed before providers meet with the patient.

Tools that can help:

Digital patient intake forms allow patients to carefully and comfortably complete forms from the privacy of their own home long before their appointment. This sensitive information is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which regulates how this information is collected, handled, stored, and shared among healthcare teams. By digitizing the patient intake process, this information can be automatically connected to the patient’s profile within a secure digital ecosystem and reviewed immediately, saving independent practice teams from tedious and time-consuming data entry work.

See Benchmark PM In Action

With Benchmark PM’s customizable dashboards, front office staff and practice managers can quickly evaluate the financial health of your medical practice. Scheduling is straightforward, with the ability to filter criteria and toggle between calendars to book appointments – tomorrow or in three months. Patient profiles can be connected to their appointments, providers, payment history, and even their EHRs for true interoperability.

Learn more about Benchmark PM

Verifying insurance coverage

Problems with insurance coverage can have a huge impact on patient satisfaction. Small practices need to verify a patient’s coverage prior to their appointment to avoid costly and frustrating insurance claims denials.

Tools that can help:

Practice management software can automatically verify patients’ insurance status and flag any patients whose insurance status may have changed in a way that will affect their care and costs. Benchmark PM can run these verification checks periodically to ensure patients’ insurance coverage issues are addressed before they receive care — and a potentially unexpected bill — so your practice can continue to build trust.

Consultation with the healthcare provider

Perhaps the most important part of a new patient’s visit is their first interaction with their healthcare provider. During this visit, the physician or nurse will discuss the patient’s questions or concerns, assess the issue, and provide care, medication, or treatment.

Tools that can help:

The more a physician knows about their patient prior to the appointment, the better. With a well-integrated digital healthcare system, physicians can quickly and effortlessly review a patient’s information, medical history, symptoms, concerns, and anything else included in their client intake forms. Connecting practice management software with electronic health records (EHRs), the entire care team can instantly and effortlessly share knowledge about a patient’s needs, creating a collaborative environment where everyone is invested in the patient’s care — and the patient can feel it.

Exceptional Care Beyond Patient Intake

An exceptional intake process establishes your practice’s trustworthiness and authority from the start, but patients only go through intake once. By extending that same convenience and attention to detail throughout their time with your practice, you’ll build loyalty and trust with your clients.

Collecting payment information

Medical practices must collect payment information from the patient, such as copayments, deductibles, or fees for services not covered by insurance. Billing a patient after their appointment can lead to delays in payment, so it’s best to collect that information as quickly as possible.

Benchmark PM’s Medical Billing Clearinghouse Integration

Hiring experienced medical billing experts can be costly. Benchmark PM offers a medical billing clearinghouse integration that grants our clients access to entire teams of medical billing experts who can review claims before they’re filed, and correct and resubmit claims if they’re denied. Don’t wait until you and your team have time to address delayed and denied claims. By partnering with a dedicated medical billing team, you can ensure that your claims are filed, processed, and reimbursed without creating lags in the billing cycle.

Tools that can help:

Practice management software can create itemized invoices for patients so they know and understand what exactly they are being charged for. It can also process payments and store payment information to be charged later. Patient portals, like Benchmark Pay, can allow patients to see, understand, and pay their bills online from anywhere in real time. Medical billing clearinghouse services can outsource complex insurance billing processes to expert teams who can submit, manage, and track claims on behalf of small practice teams.

Providing follow-up instructions

Care doesn’t end when the appointment ends. After the consultation, the patient should receive instructions regarding medication, further tests or procedures, lifestyle changes, or future appointments.

Tools that can help:

Automated follow-up messages can save care teams time in communicating with patients, but automated messages shouldn’t just be a boilerplate text. Automated patient communication can help ensure that each patient gets the information they need to continue their care journey at home. HIPAA prohibits the sharing of personal and medical details with third parties, so follow-up information should be made available to the patient within a secure environment where the patient can refer to it as needed. Secure, HIPAA-compliant patient portals are a great way to provide personalized feedback and aftercare instructions.

Benchmark Solutions Patient Portal

Benchmark Solutions offers a variety of fully customizable patient-facing care management solutions. Benchmark EHR and Benchmark RPM offer innovative, powerful, and intuitive patient portal interfaces for collaborative, easy-to-understand, and efficient patient care. With Benchmark Solutions, your clinicians and practice staff can do more with less time. Automated feeds can disseminate patient information from portals, to electronic medical records, to practice management systems, so everyone’s on the same page — including your patients.

Practice Management Systems Should Support Your Team

Independent care practices with limited resources often make do with outdated software to avoid the friction created by change. But limiting your team’s tools can ultimately limit the level of care they can provide.

When you invest in new technology for your practice, you invest in growth — especially when you focus on how technology can help your practice attract and retain new patients. Effortless patient scheduling, secure data management, automated communication, and effective, personalized patient care are all parts of an excellent patient experience. Small practices need to remain at the forefront of the healthcare industry’s technological advancement to survive and thrive today.

If you are ready to upgrade your practice management software, your electronic health records, your billing software and services, or all of the above, let us know. Our in-house experts want to hear what you’re struggling with and what you need. 

Schedule a free consultation today.

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