How to make a fantastic first impression on every patient

What words would you use to describe the check-in process at your office?

Would you say it’s friendly?  Consistent?  Efficient?  Or is it more like messy, jumbled, and chaotic?  Or maybe your check-in process is somewhere in between?

The reality for most offices is that they have some check-in procedures in place, but they’re not always followed.  Often, the busy pace of the day distracts staff members from providing a consistent check-in experience to every patient that walks in the door.

There’s the old saying “you only get one chance at a first impression,” right?  You have one chance to set the tone for your practice and it’s right when a patient enters the waiting room.

Having a warm, orderly check-in process makes them comfortable and instills a sense of trust in your office.

On the other hand, walking into a hectic space where a receptionist hands them a pile of papers without even looking them in the eye makes them feel uneasy and unimportant.

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Having a consistent check-in process also allows everyone to do their jobs better.  It guarantees that every member of your team has the information they need to do their job to the best of their abilities.

A consistent check-in process also ensures you have the relevant patient information, which is a big help when it comes to submitting claims and having them processed on time.

When a provider comes to IPS wanting to nail down their check-in process, I recommend they consider installing a check-in center.  Let’s dive into the details:


The Anatomy of a Check-In Center

A check-in center can have many forms, from a stand-alone kiosk to a designated laptop to a mounted tablet next to the front desk.

Regardless of its form, a check-in center is a piece of technology that performs all the necessary patient intake tasks that need to be done before the doctor can see them.  It allows patients to fill out the proper forms and make required payments quickly and efficiently, saving your team time and effort.

Assisting with Data Collection/Processing

One of the most obvious benefits of a check-in center is that it allows for proper data collection.  It can verify patient information and ask the questions the front desk staff often forget, such as “is this still your address?” or “have your insurance details changed since your last appointment?”

Some check-in centers can even scan driver’s licenses and insurance cards, to ensure that your information is up-to-date and confirm insurance eligibility and benefits.  Having the correct information is so crucial when it comes to revenue retention, and automating this process with a check-in center all but guarantees your information will be accurate.

Enhancing Operations

Once a patient has checked in, the check-in center can ping the staff and doctor to let them know the patient is ready.  This allows the staff to get a room ready and you as the doctor to stay on top of your schedule.

In theory, we want the front desk to do this anyway, but in reality, this doesn’t always happen.  Between phones ringing, heavy workloads, and plain human error, patients slip through the cracks.  With an automated check-in center, no one slips through the cracks because it happens automatically.

Increasing Quality of Care

During the check-in procedure, patients can share any relevant information about what brings them into the office.  If you have a pain management office, for example, you could have patients mark off which body part is hurting, rate it on the pain scale, and provide additional information on what they’ve already done to try and relieve the pain.

This information would then populate the doctor’s daily note.  It allows you to take a minute or two to review the information, so you can be fully prepared to help your patient when you enter the exam room.

Collecting Revenue

Check-in centers can incorporate payment methods too.  Many systems will calculate the patient’s bill, based on their appointment type, eligibility, and any past due balances.  The patient pays up front using a built-in scanner or inserting cash, during the check-in process.

This is a huge asset when it comes to revenue retention.  We’ve all seen situations where patients slip out without paying, forget their wallet at home, etc. Requesting payment at the check-in center removes the possibility of patients not paying.  If the doctor needs to run additional tests, you can always address these on a case-by-case basis.

Optimizing Staff

An automated check-in center also allows you to use your staff to the best of their abilities.

If you’re a small practice that prides itself on a personal touch, your desk staff can engage in authentic conversations with patients, instead of worrying about paperwork or pressure-filled conversations around providing payment.

Alternatively, you could reduce the front desk staff and focus your staff investment on team members who have broader roles.  For example, without needing front desk staff to check in patients or process payment, you could have a LNP step in and welcome patients instead.  They could do more than just welcome them – they could also take their vitals or prep them for their appointment.  This would allow you to use your employees to their full benefit.

What’s Next?

There is a lot to consider if you’re thinking of setting up an automated check-in center for your patients.  We’d love to help you weigh the benefits and give our recommendations for systems during a complimentary 30-minute consultation.  Click here to book an appointment with a member of the IPS team.

What is your current check-in process like?  How is it functioning, in practice?  Do you find yourself interested in automated check-in centers?  Or do you prefer the simplicity of the traditional paper-and-pen check-in process?  Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Check-in centers can help increase the efficiency of offices while increasing their revenues.  Download our free white paper to learn more (old school and new age) strategies for accelerating cash flow and increasing profits.  Click here to download 5 Strategies to Accelerate Cash Flow & Increase Profits.


JASMINE VJasmine Vializ is the President and CEO of Integrated Practice Solutions, a billing and practice management company designed to increase the quality of healthcare by helping doctors to prioritize their patients while boosting their bottom line.

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