Can you recall the last time you paid your bills using paper mail rather than an online portal?
Or how about the last time you called an airline to book a flight?
If you’re like most people, it’s been years since you’ve done these things the “old-fashioned” way. After all, why make things difficult when you have technology at your disposal?It’s time to
HIPAA compliant online medical forms can streamline your office operations considerably. If you’re looking to increase operational efficiency, boost patient satisfaction and ultimately, grow your practice’s revenue, online forms are sure to help.
It’s no secret that tremendous technological growth has ushered in a wide variety of online services that streamline our day-to-day lives. When it comes to the medical industry, the same principle holds true. Hospitals and independent clinics now have the ability to streamline their operations using web-based data systems and collection techniques specifically designed to improve office workflow.
According to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, 99 percent of U.S. medical facilities have opted for a more paperless approach to patient record keeping. In many of these facilities, however, online medical forms have yet to make an appearance. If your office is one of them, read on to discover the advantages to using web based medical forms.
Advantages of Online Medical Forms Vs. Paper Forms
If you’re still using archaic paper forms to collect sensitive patient information, you’re missing out on the tremendous convenience and efficiency of web-based data collection. How are online forms superior to their paper counterparts? Here are a few distinct examples:
Improved Patient Data Accuracy
Did you know that approximately 61 percent of insurance claim denials are due to errors or missing information on medical forms? Just one blank field is enough to trigger a denial, and unfortunately, paper forms offer no surefire method of detecting patient or office personnel errors. When errors bar a new patient from getting the insurance coverage they deserve, you run a very real risk of losing that patient to another practitioner.
Fortunately, electronic forms are designed to prevent inaccuracies by triggering an error message when patients fail to fill out each field correctly. When a patient fills out an online intake form, he or she cannot submit that form until each field is properly completed. Yes, human error is still possible when using online forms, but it’s significantly less prevalent.
Reduced Administrative Overhead
When your administrative staff must allocate additional time to correcting errors and resubmitting claims, they reduce your operational efficiency. Administrative overhead accounts for approximately 38 percent of healthcare costs, so if your office can increase operational efficiency, you’ll have a more profitable business.
Because electronic forms significantly reduce human error, they help free up time for more important administrative tasks. Your staff becomes more efficient, and your day-to-day operations flow much more smoothly.
Electronic Archiving and Document Sharing
Electronic archiving and retrieval of patient forms is far more efficient than having a dedicated room filled with filing cabinets. When your new patient submits an intake form, your staff can quickly and easily add that form to the patient’s record. When you need to retrieve that data in the future, it’s easy to locate and takes mere seconds to view. Automating your office workflow in this way improves efficiency and allows you to deliver a more streamlined experience for your patients.
Additional Time to Prepare for New Appointments
When your office uses online forms, patients have the opportunity to fill out their intake information well in advance of their initial appointment. You’ll have access to their information long before they arrive in your waiting room, which gives you additional time to prepare for the appointment.
When you have limited time to spend with each patient, even a few extra minutes can make a world of difference in the patient’s perception of their in-office experience. With online forms, neither you nor the patient will feel so rushed during the appointment, which allows you to discuss concerns in greater detail. Patients have a better overall experience, and you have the opportunity to gather more in-depth information. In a bustling medical office, preparation is the key to smooth daily operation.
Pre-Appointment Insurance Validation
When your office has a patient’s insurance information prior to the initial appointment, your staff can verify coverage long before the patient arrives to see you. Any issues with insurance verification can be resolved before the patient’s scheduled visit, which dramatically improves his or her experience.
With paper forms, however, office staff must quickly verify insurance while the patient waits to be seen. With limited time, your staff has little ability to resolve coverage issues, which puts undue stress on your employees and creates unnecessary confusion and frustration for the patient.
Patients Prefer Online Forms
A medical office is a business, and as with any type of business, satisfying the customer — in this case, the patient — is critical. Many patients prefer online forms because they drastically reduce the time spent in your waiting room while filling out information. When patients use online forms, office efficiency increases, which causes total office wait times to decrease.
When new patients observe that your office flows smoothly and appointments occur at scheduled intervals, they feel confident that you and your staff value and respect their time. One of the greatest frustrations among patients is significant medical office wait times that interfere with their daily obligations. When you show your patients you respect their time, they’re more likely to return and even better, refer acquaintances to your care.
Online Medical Forms: HIPAA Compliance is Paramount
If your practice is considering implementing online forms, HIPAA compliance is of critical importance when collecting protected health information. Just as paper forms must be protected from view, online forms must feature safeguards to protect PHI in the event of a cyber attack.
There are several online form builders that offer custom, HIPAA-compliant forms that can be seamlessly integrated with your existing practice website. For convenience, many of these services also offer mobile form completion, electronic signatures, document sharing, and even payment collection. Though these services advertise HIPAA-compliance, it’s critical that you verify the company employs the following security measures:
- Multi-factor authentication for authorized users
- Strong passwords and automatic logout after periods of inactivity
- Robust, end-to-end data encryption
- Email notifications that do not contain PHI
- Data transfers to HIPAA-compliant platforms
As with any outside company that may handle protected health information, you must ensure HIPAA-compliant form builders sign a business associate’s agreement prior to your implementation of the forms.
Many online form builders do not offer HIPAA-compliant forms, which means that if you opt for one of these services, you must implement the appropriate safeguards independently. You must also ensure the company is willing to sign a business associate’s agreement to legally protect your patients’ data.
Should You Use Online Forms if You Have an EHR System?
If your office operates using electronic health records, but you’re still collecting sensitive patient data using paper forms, you’re significantly reducing the operational efficiency of your business. Not only that, but you may also be compromising the security of patient PHI, which can have serious repercussions.
To streamline your office operations and better protect your patients’ PHI, HIPPA-compliant online forms are key. Because web-based forms allow you to collect patient information and seamlessly transfer that data into electronic patient health records, they reduce the need for manual data handling. If you’ve implemented an EHR system to improve organization and efficiency, web-based forms are a perfect complement for streamlining data flow throughout your office. Here’s how the process works:
- You create web-based, HIPAA-compliant forms to collect patient information. Those forms integrate with your practice website.
- Patients fill out their information, and upon form submission, ePHI is sent directly to a cloud-based, secure database. HIPAA-compliant online form builders use data encryption to protect sensitive patient information.
- When ePHI is submitted to the database, authorized employees receive a notification that the data is available for viewing.
- The patient’s form data transfers seamlessly into the corresponding electronic health record for that patient.
Online Medical Forms: The Future of Data Collection
If your office isn’t currently using online forms, now is the time to make the transition. With the appropriate HIPAA-compliant safeguards in place, online forms contribute to a significantly more automated workflow, increased office efficiency and a better experience for your patients. Are you on board?