Coronavirus concerns and a desire to be more consumer-friendly are driving a shift away from waiting rooms at a Florida-based health system.
Spurred on by the coronavirus pandemic, AdventHealth has implemented curbside check-in and contactless registration at physician practice offices.
The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has made patients hesitant about visiting doctor offices due to fear of infection. In April, a Medical Group Management Association survey found that physician practices had experienced 60% average decrease in patient volume.
Altamonte Springs, Florida-based AdventHealth had been planning to launch curbside check-in and contactless registration at physician practices before the coronavirus pandemic, but the outbreak sped up the process, says Shelly Nash, DO, chief medical information officer of physician enterprise.
"Curbside check-in and contactless registration were something that we were interested in doing before COVID-19, but the pandemic accelerated our desire to do it because of patient concerns. In general, the idea of a waiting room in healthcare is something patients have accepted, but no one wants to wait."
At AdventHealth, which has more than 700 medical group locations, curbside check-in and contactless registration has seven primary elements:
- Patients confirm their appointments online
- Visit registration documents including COVID-19 screening questions are completed online
- When patients arrive at physician practices, they text the practice office
- The practice office sends a text back saying the clinician is ready for the visit or that the office will call back when the clinician is ready
- Patients are greeted at the practice entrance, where a temperature check is conducted to screen for coronavirus infection
- Patients are escorted to their exam room
- After the visit is over, patients are escorted back to the parking lot
"There is no paper document that the patient has to fill out, and patients do not have to interact with other patients while sitting in a waiting room, which puts them at risk of infection," Nash says.
The online registration process has several steps, she says.
"The forms we send to patients verify their demographics such as address and birthday. We ask for a government-issued ID, which they can scan or photograph with their phone then send to us. They also confirm their insurance information—patients can take a picture of their insurance card with their phone. Then we ask patients to review outstanding balances and co-pays, and we ask them to sign electronically for treatment consent. They also are asked screening questions for COVID-19 such as whether they have a fever or have traveled recently."
Physician practice staff can monitor the contactless registration process, Nash says. "The forms are sent out five days before a patient's visit, and we have a dashboard that our staff follows. If the patient has not completed or initiated the forms after two days, the forms are sent out again. Then, if we still do not see activity on the dashboard, a staff member calls the patient to see whether there is a problem."
The curbside check-in and contactless registration initiative was started in the spring, and patients have responded favorably, she says. About 75% of physician practice patients are participating, and patient satisfaction with the process is at 95%.
"Eventually, I hope we become so efficient that it is like the airlines, where you show your boarding pass and you get right onto your flight," Nash says.
Christopher Cheney is the senior clinical care editor at HealthLeaders.
Patient volume at physician practices has decreased dramatically due to the coronavirus pandemic.
At AdventHealth, 75% of physician practice patients are participating in a new curbside check-in and contactless registration process.
Patient satisfaction with the new process is at 95%.