Why Healthcare Consumerism Is Changing Medical Check-Ins

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Today's healthcare consumerism focuses far more on patient control in their treatment and medical decisions.. There are a number of reasons for the shift from patient to consumer, from the reforms to bring about more value-driven care to the fact that patients today are paying far more out of pocket. While you can discuss the reasons behind these changes infinitum, the current overwhelming data shows that organizations that thrive have changed their protocol to a more consumer centric approach. The patient check-in protocols represent simple initiatives your organization can institute which make a tremendous difference in consumer satisfaction.

Check-In Procedures and Why They Matter

The most common point of service for patients to experience inconvenience is during the check-in portion of their visit. This is where most organizations will have the most problems in regulating the flow of scheduled appointments. This is also where many patients garner their information - from scheduling new appointments to paying outstanding balances.

Unlike other consumer business models, healthcare organizations often deal with appointments running longer or schedules in flux due to unforeseeable circumstances. While these scenarios are unavoidable, there are changes most organizations can make to improve the consumer experience during check-in. 

Best Practices for Consumer-Centric Check-In Procedures

While every patient base may be slightly different, there are some overall needs of conveniences that should be considered for most healthcare organizations. The healthcare consumer needs transparency in billing, a good idea of how to budget their medical expenses, the ability to easily garner information relevant to their health issues, and a deference to their time. Many of these basic needs can be easily managed within the check-in portion of their visit. For the majority of patients, technology is key to offering convenient ways to oversee their healthcare needs.

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Here are some examples of possible protocols your healthcare organization can institute or improve upon for better, consumer-focused service:

•Phone App Check-In -- Depending on the patient base, many of today's patients use their phones to maintain large portions of their daily life. Organizations can implement phone apps so that patients can quickly check themselves in, verify their appointment times, and find pertinent information on billing and treatment.
•Check-In Kiosks -- Check-In kiosks offer a solution to the bottleneck that was once a mainstay at the front desk. Patients can individually check themselves in, answering all of the pertinent questions privately, so that sensitive information isn't said out loud in a waiting room full of people. Another benefit is that this frees the receptionist to complete other tasks while allowing multiple patients to check in at the same time, without standing in any lines.
•Insurance Verification -- Verifying insurance coverage ahead of time means that the organization can counsel the patient on out of pocket costs prior to treatment. This transparency allows patients to budget for medical needs and improve the revenue cycle management process tremendously.
•Patient Portal -- A patient portal allows patients to view their records, outstanding balances, any physician notes, and overall information on their health from the convenience of their computer. This option also allows patients the convenience of 24/7 access to the information they want, without waiting to ring the office during hours.
Offering today's healthcare consumers the care they need is more than only excellent treatment, though that is still the main goal. Patients need to be involved in the process to better adhere to medical recommendations and enjoy better outcomes.