Why Those Online Patient Registration Forms Should Die?


Many medical practices think that having a Patient Registration Form on their website is a great way of offering convenience to patients. The general assumption behind the idea is- patient in need of medical consultation or treatment will take time to download the pdf form, fill all the questions and then send it back to the medical practice via email, scan or by foot (by handing it in the practice). Sounds nice, right? Few doctors also believe that online patient registration forms help in gathering all the relevant medical data about the patient and device an easy way to on-board the patient in the medical practice. It is widely believed registrations are like the financial “pre-visit” to check eligibility and benefits. The process also reduces a lot of administrative work such as gathering information/Co-pay before the appointment. Therefore, medical practices do not hesitate to provide a pdf link to Patient Registration Form on their websites.

However, the question is – is it really helping patients or medical practice?

FACT: US National benchmark for registration in practice = 5-12 minutes 4 minutes if established, 14 minutes if new patient.


Online Patient Registration Forms Are a Nightmare

If a patient is taking 15 minutes in the practice for registration. This means patient is spending more time than with physician!

All the information that medical practices are trying to collect is important because it has a direct impact on the physician productivity. Think of a patient encounter with physician, there are 5 key steps to an efficient visit-

  1. Opening conversation with questions
  2. Establishing patient expectations
  3. Understanding patient beliefs
  4. Making decisions
  5. Closing conversation

Clearly, research shows that good communication leads to following results –

  • Better patient outcomes
  • Better patient satisfaction
  • Better office efficiency
  • Better physician satisfaction

Hence, this is why medical practices want to collect as much data as possible from the patient so that patient-physician communication is most effective and efficient!

However, the patient registration forms on the websites are a nightmare. There are several reasons to it-

  1. These forms have too many questions, even though practices are now getting smarter and making a 1-page questionnaire, there are still 70% of practices that have way too long forms.
  2. On an average, 1 in 2900 visitors (0.03%) on the website ever downloads a patient registration form. Moreover, there is little data that confirms that they actually submit it back to the practice after filling it.
  3. Practices are losing patients because they are creating a barrier by asking too much information upfront.
  4. Not many people have printers and scanners handy. Asking patients to download, print and fill the form is like digging a hole in the mountain, too much to ask for.
  5. More and more people (over 50%) are surfing the internet using mobile devices. These forms are not mobile optimized and no one uses them.

The Solution

Behavioral science suggests that people are too lazy to fill-in too much information upfront. A better strategy is to on-board them with bare minimal data and then gather more information afterwards. This doesn’t have to be at the actual patient-physician encounter, but could be in a streamlined split conversation. For e.g. ask for patient email and phone number at the beginning, once that information is captured invite them to your app or portal and then collect rest of the information using text chats or emails. Also, the results are better when patient communication is streamlined and there is no over-dose of information. This strategy could play a huge role in patient acquisition. Just imagine if you can connect with a new patient by simply collecting an email and a phone number. The ease of connecting with the doctor will improve the conversion significantly.

It is important practices start focusing on online experience i.e. making those forms really online instead of links to printable pdfs, but what is even more important is the ease of using those forms across devices (mobile, ipad etc.). Having a great mobile experience is really a key factor here, because over 50% of patients are surfing the internet on mobile.

Using the right technology will help practices build interactive questionnaires with top class mobile experience and higher conversions. Moreover, the ease of customization of patient forms can revolutionize a practice’s workflow and cut out on all the manual tasks and paper work. So, if you are using those printable pdf registration patient forms, then please get rid of them today!

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