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The patient registration process is a prime opportunity for your urgent care center to create positive patient experiences. In fact, it’s critical to get this portion of the patient encounter right because it sets the tone for your patients’ entire visit to your urgent care center. Any hiccups in that process – a disorganized office, unfriendly or untrained staff, unclear patient instructions – can lead to frustrated patients who end up sitting in your waiting room longer than necessary – or who walk out entirely.

The good news is that advances in urgent care-specific technology are making it easier to automate the patient registration process, creating a much smoother patient experience.

Why the Patient Registration Process is Important

Patient registration is a complex process that requires urgent care staff to collect and input a lot of information, such as:

  • Patient demographics, including contact information and emergency contacts
  • Patient insurance, payment and guarantor information
  • Patient health history, medications and family history

There’s also a lot of paperwork for patients to sign. In fact, the average urgent care center requires patients to sign up to five documents per visit, such as HIPAA forms, credit card pre-authorization forms, patients’ rights and responsibilities, what HIPAA covers and requires, and financial responsibilities forms. And all those forms need to get scanned into the practice management system by the front desk staff, taking their time and attention away from the patient experience.

Picture this: it can take upwards of 30 seconds for an urgent care center’s front desk staff to scan all of those documents into their practice management system, even if they scan everything in at the same time. That doesn’t seem like a lot of time, but as an urgent care practice grows, the time and paper wasted on administrative tasks multiplies. It may only take two minutes to scan in the 25 forms needed for a practice seeing only 10 patients a day, but for a practice seeing 80 patients a day, it can take 40 minutes a day to scan the 400 forms needed for all those patients.

patient eRegistration tables illustrating paper and time

That’s nearly an hour out of every day an urgent care center’s front desk staff could be spending:

  • Scheduling follow-up visits
  • Updating patients on delays
  • Answering patient questions
  • Performing other tasks related to creating a positive patient experience

It’s clear there’s a better way than a manual patient registration process full of unnecessary paper and administrative time.

How Tech Can Help Automate the Patient Registration Process

Luckily, advances in urgent care-specific technology are making it easier for urgent care centers to automate their patient registration processes. Rather than overwhelm patients with a clipboard full of papers, more and more urgent care centers are turning to eRegistration systems that allow patients to complete registration themselves.

These systems can be set up through freestanding kiosks or through tablet PCs that the front desk staff hand to patients. Some urgent care eRegistration systems let patients pre-register from the comfort of their own homes. This is typically integrated with some sort of online check-in system that also allows patients to hold their place in line so they can wait at home until their scheduled walk-in times. The concept is much like the self-service technology you see at the grocery store check-out lines or the bank ATM; they provide patients with the control to enter and update their own information into the system.

For staff, these systems save them a lot of time on the administrative tasks that keep them from creating the positive patient experiences that are so important in the urgent care industry. Instead of manually keying in all that patient information, the front desk staff simply has to verify the information patients enter into the eRegistration system. If the eRegistration system has a document-signing feature, patients can view and sign any required documents right from the tablet or kiosk – no scanning necessary. The patient registration process becomes streamlined for both patient and staff, cutting down the time it takes to get patients registered.

Your patient registration process is an opportunity to create a positive experience for your patients from the very start of their encounters. Using urgent care-specific technology to automate that process will help your staff make a good first impression with your patients.

This resource was first published prior to the 2019 merger between DocuTAP and Practice Velocity. The content reflects our legacy brands.

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