My biggest pet peeve as a physical therapist was waiting on a patient to complete a clipboard full of registration papers while I lost productivity and billable minutes. The evaluation would then continue into the appointment for my next patient. This is likely the case for any service line including home healthcare, once the throughput is slowed by a patient completing paperwork. The backup affect can be felt the remainder of the day with an accumulation of decreased productivity, lost billable time and decreased customer satisfaction as patients wait longer for their appointments or do not receive the attention as expected.

Electronic solutions

Remote access for electronic form completion and signatures will help drive productivity, profitability and customer value.

This holds true for any admission packet, registration paperwork or pre-visit updating. Encourage patients even those being visited in home by a health professional, to complete all the required paperwork prior to the appointment. Then a simple check-in process — like when that health professional arrives in a patient’s home — is all that is necessary to ensure the required forms have been completed correctly.

There are three methods to present electronic forms in a personal browser for remote completion and signature capture:

  1. Integration with a patient portal
  2. Emailed links to the electronic forms
  3. Publishing links to electronic forms on a customer facing website

Integration with a patient portal

This is the most logical if your electronic medical record has a patient portal. Simply present the digital forms into this familiar environment for patients to view forms, complete forms and capture signatures.  Patients can also interact with the portal to upload external documents or images such as insurance cards, identification cards or even updated wound photos. 

Emailed links to the secured electronic forms

A percentage of your patient population will not be reachable remotely if they are not utilizing your patient portal. These patients can still be reached with an email containing a link to the same digital forms that are presented in the patient portal. Patients are only presented the interactive forms needed for review and completion. Workflow allows for the remote completed forms to be stowed away properly at the patient level within the electronic medical record.

Publishing links to electronic forms on a customer-facing website

This is the final recommendation to assist a healthcare organization in reaching that elusive patient population remotely that is not interacting with the patient portal or may not interact with email. A link to a generic admission packet or registration forms can be published and accessed on the customer-facing website.  Again, simple workflow can then route the completed forms to the appropriate personnel for verification and proper stowing at the patient level of these completed documents. 

Measure of success

Productivity improves by decreasing or eliminating the need for a clinician to wait on a patient completing paperwork in the lobby. Post-acute care providers can rest assured knowing the digital admission packet has been completed without the necessity to bring anyone into the facility to capture signatures, allowing personnel the freedom to do more meaningful work.   

Profitability is improved as billable units are maintained or even increased with the improved patient throughput. Post-acute care providers can also bill more timely knowing all necessary paperwork has been completed digitally.

Customer satisfaction improves with the ability to complete and sign forms and upload documents from the comfort of home. Prior form completion will also speed the check-in process, enabling appointments to begin on time. Friends and family providing transportation for appointments will not be inconvenienced with an additional trip or longer wait for paperwork completion. Families in the post-acute care setting also benefit from remote access, eliminating the need to travel to the care center for form completion and signatures. 

Nearly 100% of your patient population can be reached remotely with a strategic approach to provide access to the same digital forms using the patient portal, emailing links to the forms, or publishing links to more generic forms on your customer facing website.

As a healthcare industry specialist for Hyland Healthcare, Scott Magers brings more than 20 years of experience in outpatient therapy, home healthcare and skilled nursing facilities. He has served on many collaborative committees between acute hospitals and post-acute care (PAC) organizations seeking best practice for transfer of care, care coordination and collaboration. His goal is to share these experiences to help PAC providers automate paper-based processes to improve efficiencies, quality of care, and patient outcomes.