Patient Intake Process
For people, who do not work inside the medical community, the steps it takes to complete the process for their intake at an appointment may not be given much thought. The intake process consists of many steps that utilize the use of the referring physician’s office, the receptionist, the insurance personnel, and the patient. As one can see, the process takes many different people. When considering all of the people involved in the process, the question comes to mind about a more efficient way to complete the process. The process involves many pages of paperwork.
The information is then taken from the paper work and entered into the computer. Insurance cards must be obtained and copied. The insurance copays, deductibles, and eligibility must then be verified and patient informed of his or her responsibility. Documents are signed and a chart formed to be provided to the clinical area. Depending on the speed and understanding of the patient, the clinical staff and other office functions being done at the time of intake, this could take anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes just to ready the patient to be seen by the physician.
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All of these steps contribute to the length of time and proficiency in the intake process. Again, the question at hand is how the whole process can be made more efficient, not only for the office staff and physician, but also for the patient. The use of electronic health information change can make the process more efficient. “Health care organizations need to do more to help patients realize the full benefits of electronic data from emerging health information exchange systems, according to a new study commissioned by Consumers Union that appears in the March 2012 Health Affairs”, according to American Nurse.
With the development of the electronic health information exchange networks, patient’s information can be exchanged from one physician to another electronically. The development of these networks can help make the patient intake process more efficient. Because the information is exchanged electronically from physician to physician, this can decrease the wait time for the patient and help keep the clinic moving patients. When a patient presents for a new patient appointment, there are several papers that need to be filled out.
This includes the patient’s demographic information, history, past history, social history, medications, insurance information, and other pieces of information related specifically to the patient and exchange of information. If a patient sees a primary care physician, all of this information has been already been established. If this information were allowed to be exchanged electronically, then when a patient arrives for an appointment at a new physician’s office, all of the information would already be there waiting upon arrival. This would eliminate the need to fill out paper work again.
Once the patient arrives for the initial visit, he or she could then be given a hand-held tablet. The tablet would need to have a plain and simple format so that those not familiar with electronics could easily scroll from page to page and see his or her information. The patient would then be given a brief explanation of how to scroll through the information and verify that all of the information was correct. If corrections need to be made, the patient could inform the office staff and see if the information being changed on the tablet as the office staff is making the corrections.
Not only would this eliminate paper work, but this also could allow for insurance verification ahead of patient arrival. With the insurance information ahead of time, a patient can be informed of the findings the day before and how much will need to be collected upon arrival. If the patient is unable to pay, the appointment can be rescheduled and allow for schedule adjustments. This not only would make the patient happy, but the physician as well. Electronic health information exchange programs are being implemented throughout the different states.
Mississippi now has what is called the Mississippi Health Information Network. This network allows for exchange of not only patient demographics information, but also previous testing, medications, diagnoses, hospital charts, prior physicians seen, and insurance information. A patient has the option to opt out of the network if so desired and not allow for the exchange of information. The data is encrypted and every effort is made to make transfer of information as secure as possible in order to avoid breaches in patient privacy.
As one can see, the electronic exchange of information can make the intake process a more efficient and pleasant experience for patients and office staff. It eliminates the time a patient spends filling out paper work. It allows for insurance verification prior to the patient’s office visit. It also helps the physician’s patient flow to be more efficient by allowing the less time for the patient in the waiting room. The elimination of a few minutes for the patient can make a big difference in the whole process.
Keirn, J. (2012). Achieve ROI through patient intake. HME News, 18(9), 1-S7. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1039287031?accountid=35812
Patients’ needs and electronic health data. (2012). American Nurse, 44(2), 5-5. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1017714248?accountid=35812