Understanding the Patient Intake Process

Efficiency during the patient intake process is essential to properly gathering and reviewing patient health care and insurance information. The patient intake process is the very first step in reference to billing purposes and the patient visit. Establishing financial responsibility is a key step to successful billing processes. Having a computer system can make the patient intake process more efficient. The patient intake process begins with gathering patient information when scheduling an appointment. When calling for an appointment, the patient will be asked several basic questions.

Information given to make an appointment usually consists of patient’s full name, address, date of birth, phone number, the nature of the visit, patient insurance information, and if the patient was referred, who referred them. During the appointment setting process, most providers use a patient appointment scheduling system. These appointment scheduling systems are very helpful, some can automatically send reminders to patients, or check on patient follow-ups. New patients, who have PPOs or HMOs, may need information on to whether or not the provider is in their insurance plan’s network of providers.

When patients choose physicians in the network, they pay less than they would if the physician was not in the network. During the new patient intake process, the patient comes to the office for the visit. Upon arrival the patient is given multiple forms to fill out. Medical History is important in understanding about a patient. It is important that physicians have access to a patient’s most recent medical history. A patient’s medical history may include personal medical history, family medical history, social history, or any medications or therapies currently used.

Social history contains personal lifestyles choices, such as smoking, exercise or alcohol use. Patients are also asked to complete patient information forms. Patient information forms contain demographic information and insurance information. Demographic information includes name, address, and date of birth, gender, social security information, employer information, contact person in case of emergency, and spousal information. Along with the completion of several forms, patients are required to administer their insurance cards, as well as some kind of photo identification.

The patient must also sign an Assignment of Benefits. An assignment of Benefits is signed by the policyholder or patient to authorize the physician’s office to submit insurance claims. The last paper included in patient intake During the new patient intake process, patients must also review privacy practice notices. According to the HIPAA Privacy Rule, physicians do not need patient permission in order to release medical information for TPO purposes. TPO purposes include treatment, payment, and operations. Physicians must acquire patient authorization in order to release Protected Health Information (PHI).

Most providers give patient’s a notice of the policies, and patients are required to sign them to provide acknowledgement of the privacy practices. Established patients, or patients that have been seen by the provider or any provider within the group within the last three years, are asked upon arrival if all the current information on file is accurate. Any updates can include marital status, employment, dependent status, address, phone number, or insurance information. Updated insurance information requires copies to be made of new insurance cards.

All data is double checked to make sure everything is up to date. In a research study done in Central Ohio, a touch screen patient-entered data system was examined to detect the efficiency of new patient registration. At two behavioral health clinics, operated by Columbus Children’s Hospital used an EnterVue Kiosk. The EnterVue computer system was programmed to 4record all information versus using paper patient intake forms. The EnterVue system, which was developed by Flipside Media, was observed by researchers to determine the length of intake process.

Researchers in the study conducted an interview with the users to discuss the ease of use to use the kiosk system. Researchers also asked about the patient’s computer efficiency. Researchers also observed interactions between patients and staff using paper forms during the intake process. What the researchers found out was that the patients found the kiosk system easier to use, even when patient’s lacked computer skills. In certain cases, when printing was required to sign forms, the intake process took about the same amount of time versus regular paper method.

Although, having the touch screen kiosk does still require some manual work, having the kiosk improves the patient intake process. Having a kiosk to quicken patient intake time is beneficial on many levels. I think that having this computer generated kiosk for patient to use when beginning the intake process will decrease errors and generate more productivity with medical office staff. The patient intake process can be very time consuming, but using a new technology of a touch screen kiosk to begin the patient intake process and completing forms can prove itself to be very beneficial to the medical field.

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