Across the country, provider organizations have made huge strides in the adoption of advanced health information technology. In 2017, massive networks connect physician offices to hospitals, state registries and federal health agencies. What’s more, over 95 percent of hospitals eligible for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program have achieved Meaningful Use goals, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

And yet one relic of the pre-digital age continues to persist: the check-in clipboard.

Most patients are familiar with the clipboard stacked with forms, and few people greet it with much enthusiasm. Often, patients need to fill out the same information multiple times, which can leave them frustrated and annoyed.

With the widespread availability of advanced, intuitive engagement solutions, don’t you think it’s finally time to ditch your clipboards?

The problem with clipboards

Clipboards and forms may be easy to use, but they represent an unnecessary step that consumes time and resources. The transfer of data from paper to computer also represents a point where mistakes can be made.

After a patient completes the paper forms, a member of the office’s administrative staff must input the data into the electronic health records system. This basic task takes up valuable time that could be better spent interacting with patients face-to-face or accomplishing more pressing care goals.

It’s also important to note that patient expectations change over time, and solutions that worked in the past won’t necessarily translate as well in the future. Already, tech-savvy millennials are the largest living population, according to Pew Research Center. This generation is highly familiar with touch-screen technology, making paper forms feel out-dated and non-intuitive. Meeting this generation’s technological expectations could be a good way to attract and retain new patients.

No one likes long waits at the doctor's office.No one likes long waits at the doctor’s office.

The benefits of patient engagement in the waiting room

Patient engagement solutions often focus on the pre- and post-appointment phases of patient experience. These touch points are highly important to address, but patient engagement needs a third leg to form a truly stable foundation.

“Millennials may see paper forms as out-dated and unintuitive.”

The waiting room is a much-maligned aspect of patient experience. No one likes waiting, but patients have come to expect it from any visit to the doctor. With the right technology, however, long waits can become a thing of the past.

Depending on the needs of the office, a provider has several options to reduce wait times. For example, investing in a smartphone app can allow patients to check in before they arrive at the office – similar to how airline apps allow passengers to receive their boarding passes before arriving at the airport. Alternatively, providers can replace their clipboards with tablets, allowing patients to check themselves in. Tablets are easy to use and can be completely customized for your brand. This solution removes the secondary step, and may prevent inaccuracies in patient data.

The building blocks of a holistic patient engagement strategy

Patient engagement strategies are most effective when they account for every stage of the patient experience. Each phase should support the next. Here’s an example:

  • Before the appointment: Patients receive a text message reminder the day prior to their visit.
  • During the appointment: Patients check themselves in on a tablet or smartphone app.
  • After the appointment: The provider electronically delivers lab results and medication information via a secure portal.

In this example, patients are engaged from start to finish, and they have ample opportunities to adjust their appointments, ask pertinent questions and receive follow-up data without cutting into their busy personal lives.

Learn more about how to ditch your check-in clipboard and engage your patients in the waiting room.