How to Master the Quick Visit While Improving Patient Experience

By: on November 13, 2019

Maintaining a perfect bedside manner when you’re buried in paperwork and in a hurry to fit all of your appointments into a day is no easy feat—but it’s critical if you want to keep your patients happy.

There are a number of strategies for speeding up appointments and helping doctors better manage their schedules, but how many of them actually take patient experience into account? To find out, we surveyed nearly 300 U.S. patients about their preferences around these strategies.

First of all, we found that more than half of patients feel they do not get enough time with their physician.

chart showing patient satisfaction with the length of appointments

Based on the sentiments patients in our survey expressed, we’ve put together a list of methods to help you master the quick visit while improving patient experience.

3 tips for improving patient experience

1. Hire a scribe to take notes during appointments

Not only are scribes a great solution for physician burnout, they also have the benefit of improving the patient experience.

In our survey, we found that 70% of patients are comfortable having a scribe in the exam room during an appointment to take notes dictated by the provider.

graph showing that most paitents are comfortable with scribes

Knowing that so many patients feel comfortable with this option opens it up as a possibility to providers who might have been wary before.

Medical scribes typically have a number of responsibilities that go beyond taking notes, too. An average job posting could include the following requirements:

  • Familiarity with EHRs and patient charting
  • Proficiency in documentation and clerical work
  • Understanding of HIPAA requirements and regulations

If a scribe still isn’t your speed and you have a little room in your IT budget, a voice recognition system could be a great alternative option for you. Many popular EHR systems come equipped with dictation technology already, so check with your provider before researching standalone solutions.

2. Use a voice recorder during exams, then type notes afterward

A similar, yet simpler, option than dictation software is a good old fashioned voice recorder, which 64% of patients are a-okay with their doctors using.

Chart showing that 30% of patients are very comfortable with voice recorders, and 34% are comfortable with them.

Voice recorders are a slightly less elegant solution than scribes or dictation software, though, and users have to be aware of two very crucial things:

First, HIPAA has rules around audio recording. If you elect to record your exams, you must disclose this to your patients and confirm their consent ahead of time. Additionally, you will be responsible for preventing the recordings from being shared, as they will qualify as protected health information (PHI).

Second, voice recorders don’t save as much time as dictation tools or scribes. Most providers who use voice recorders in their practice turn them on at the start of the exam, let them record while they discuss symptoms, diagnosis, and treatments with their patients, and then refer back to the audio recording after the appointment has concluded so they can manually enter their notes.

The true benefit of voice recorders is twofold:

  • They enable providers to better focus on what their patients are saying during the appointment, which improves the patient experience.
  • They let providers conduct the exam without having to stop and enter notes every so often, which speeds up the appointment.

3. Use intake software to have patients fill out forms ahead of time

Finally, we asked respondents in our survey when they would prefer to fill out intake forms for scheduled medical appointments: before arriving at the doctor’s office or after arriving and during check-in for the appointment.

More than half said they prefer to fill out paperwork ahead of time.

Software Advice Survey: patient preference for when to fill out intake paperwork

If you aren’t already using a practice management suite or scheduling system capable of sending out intake paperwork prior to appointments, it’s time to look into this software.

Many systems that are equipped to send out automated appointment reminders via text and email can also include links to intake paperwork with reminders for patients to complete the forms ahead of time to speed things up.


Scheduling feature in patientNOW practice management software (Source)
 

We know from previous surveys that wait times are a major source of frustration for most patients, and collecting intake paperwork ahead of time is one relatively easy way to address the issue.

To learn more about intake software or any of the other tools covered here, you can reach out to our team of medical advisors. They’ll ask about your specific needs, from required features to specialty and budget, and then provide a list of software products that match.


Methodology

We conducted a survey in September 2019 to collect the data reported here. The survey used screening questions to narrow the number of respondents down to 284 with relevant experience to answer our questions.

If you have comments or would like to obtain access to any of the charts included in this report, please contact lisa.hedges@gartner.com. You can also find the author on Twitter and LinkedIn. For more information, see our methodologies page.

Note: The information contained in this article has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable.

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