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Touchless Patient Arrivals: A Path Forward While Social Distancing

While each health center is in varying stages of the COVID-19 battle, one underlying goal is on all our minds – how do we safely re-open our facilities to patients who need in-person care?

The patient arrival workflow needs to evolve to the current environment while making patient and staff safety a top priority. Luckily, there is a lot of technology out there to help. The ideal future-state workflow should have the following three elements:

  1. Electronic Check-In
  2. Touchless Arrival
  3. Self-Rooming

Electronic Check-In: Epic’s MyChart eCheck-In functionality allows patients to complete an electronic pre-check-in process prior to their appointment. Patients can review and update registration information, sign documents, and make payments. Complex needs can qualify for a work queue to be reviewed and addressed by staff prior to the patient’s arrival. This workflow can be enabled for your entire organization or certain departments only. An eCheck-In Status allows you to see if the patient attempted or completed the process prior to their appointment, allowing for a quicker arrival on the date of service.

Touchless Arrival: Busy arrival areas, kiosks, and registration peripheral devices will be a concern for patients moving forward. There are a few ways touchless arrivals can be achieved by your organization.

  • Hello Patient: This functionality allows patients to use their mobile phones in combination with geo-location to indicate arrival to the clinic. The patient can review any remaining registration steps, process their copayment, and receive instructions and directions for what to do next.
  • Remote Arrival: Instruct patients to call the front desk when they arrive to the clinic parking lot to complete registration and check-in over the phone. At the end of the call, give the patient an exam room number for self-rooming (see below).

Staff assisted check-in will always need to remain an option. In those instances, think about ways to address infection control concerns.

  • Work with your payment processing vendor to implement hardware that enables touchless payments.
  • Consider transitioning from patient ID scanning to Epic’s Patient Photographs for ongoing identity verification.
  • Implement strict disinfecting protocols for electronic signature pens and patient desks.
  • Take photos of insurance cards or implement a hand sanitizing procedure after every patient check-in.
  • Work with your facilities team to make physical alterations to check in areas and desks including physical barriers.
  • Develop clear signage and pre-service communication to guide the patient safely though their arrival.

Self-Rooming: Moving to a self-rooming workflow allows a patient to bypass the waiting room and proceed directly to their exam room on the date of service. Receptionists can assign patients to a room using Patient Location Records assigned from the Department Appointment Report (DAR). This room assignment can be given to the patient over the phone or at a brief interaction at the front desk. A Reporting Workbench report can be used to monitor room status to quickly see whether a room is ready for a patient, if the room is dirty, or if the room is not available due to maintenance needs.

Each of the elements above is a project in and of itself but represent the arrival workflow of the future. At The Wilshire Group we have Patient Access experts ready to help you with workflow design, operational considerations, and technical build. Learn more about our Patient Access Services here. Start planning now to prepare for a successful transition into increased in-person care volumes. Contact Rebecca Haymaker at r.haymaker@thewilshiregroup.net if you are interested in learning more.