Hi everyone! A team member from one of our practices recently reached out to us and asked this question:
What do you feel is the best way for patients to fill out their new patient paperwork? Going to website, emailing the paperwork to them, mailing the paperwork to them or having them come in early and fill out in the office? Or another suggestion?
I felt that it would be helpful for me to share my reply with all of you since this is a common question you might have for your practice as well!
Here is my response:
I see you are asking what is the best way for patients to fill out their new patient paperwork. I always like to give them options and see which will work best for them. Ideally, it is better if they can fill out the paperwork in advance in my opinion.
The reason being, it shows they are more committed in advance to their appointment. It also allows you to interact more with the patient in advance because you can ask them about their paperwork, you can let them know you received it and thank them for sending it, and it provides more touch-points between you and the patient prior to their visit. Why is this important?
Because the more rapport, touch-points, and interaction you can have with the patient before their appointment creates stronger bonds and gives them more reasons to show up for their visit and be excited and have pre-built trust!
Ask them, “we have various options for having you fill out your paperwork for your visit – email, online, etc – which one do you prefer?” Notate their response on their call intake form. This way, if they told you they would be emailing or faxing the forms in prior to their visit and you have not yet received them, you can call them and check on it…
If you have the new patient paperwork online, don’t just tell them about it, send a helpful link to them or direct them where they can go while you have them on the phone. If they are not as computer savvy and you have plenty of time before their scheduled appointment, you can always offer to print off the forms and mail them to the patient so they can fill them out in advance and either send them back or bring them with them to their visit.
One of the most important things to remember when trying to get a patient to fill out the paperwork early is to provide them the benefits of WHY it will be helpful to them to have their paperwork done ahead of time. I always told patients that when they get their forms filled out early and send them in to us, we can have their chart already created when they arrive for their visit which means much less waiting time for them! If they have their forms pre-filled out, they don’t have to arrive very early for their visit. If they don’t have the forms filled out in advance they will need to come about 15-20 minutes prior to their appointment time so they can have time to fill out the paperwork and we have time to get them entered into the system.
We even would have a designated color on the schedule where we could notate if the patient was new and if they had pre-filled out their forms and we got them back in. This way, when we were calling to contact them about their upcoming visit, we knew if they needed to arrive more early or not. This is not as easily done with sending texts or emails from the computer systems since those reminders are always done automatically and they do not differentiate between who has filled out paperwork and who has not.
The bottom line is be helpful and provide them with options. And try to show them the value and benefit in them filling out their forms early. You know many times people don’t arrive early for their paperwork and then it holds everyone else up if they are behind on arrival and filling out forms. I hope this helps :)
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