Reinventing Patient Registration

Healthcare, whether at the largest hospital in the country or at the smallest doctor’s office, begins with the same business process—waiting.  And the bigger the institution the more likely they are to repeat that process during your stay.

To me the registration process reminds me of how I feel when I fly into a city and the pilot, who a second ago was patting himself on the back for an on-time arrival then says that we have to sit on the plane because our gate is not available.  The airline, who scheduled the flight, has known for a month that this plane would be arriving at this time on this day and would be parking at the occupied gate. 

The hospital has the same a priori knowledge.  Someone at the hospital knew what time each patient would be arriving because the hospital employs the gatekeeper.  They know it so well that most patients can call the hospital days or weeks in advance of their scheduled appointment and be told the exact time and location of that appointment.

Let’s agree to do this—it’s pretty far out on a limb, but that is where the fruit is.  Let the patients schedule, admit, and register.  Please don’t say that can’t be done. It is more accurate to say it has not been done.  To those who will say it’s too hard to do, grammatically they should be saying it’s too difficult to do, other industries do it, and a lot of very profitable clinics, clinics with very high patient experience ratings do it.

Create a mobile application that allows me to open it on a tablet at a time of my choosing.  Using the app I view appointments for my doctor or lab and book it.  The app tells me what I need to do prior to arrival.  I enter my insurance information and complete any online forms, perhaps even providing an electronic signature.  The app gives me some form of bar-code that I store on my device.  And when I arrive at the hospital I display the bar code on my device, and hold it up to the hospital’s scanner.  The scanner completes the registration process, displays where I am to go along with accurate directions about how to get there, and even prints out my wrist band.

That allows the hospital to reclaim the waiting room area and get rid of all of the outdated copies of The Economist and Highlights magazines.

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