Sharp HealthCare checks out kiosks for check-in

What if checking into the doctor's office was as easy as checking in for a flight or buying movie tickets at a self-serve kiosk? 

San Diego, Calif.-based Sharp HealthCare, answered that question by implementing electronic check-in at three of its Sharp Rees-Stealy clinics: Sharp Rees-Stealy Rancho Bernardo, Sharp Rees-Stealy Scripps Ranch and Sharp Rees-Stealy Genesee. Additionally, kiosks have been implemented at Sharp Rees-Stealy San Diego and on Oct. 10, they'll be implemented at Sharp Rees-Stealy Downtown.

"In all, there will be 25 kiosks that will roll out across 11 of our medical centers by the end of the year," Curtis Ippolito, marketing specialist for Sharp, told FierceHealthIT in an email. 

"We feel this is another avenue to maintain and increase patient satisfaction goals," Michelle Calleran, manager of IT for Sharp, told FierceHealthIT in an interview. A second goal was to improve staff satisfaction, add another area of support, help their workloads and improve their job performance. It helps with physician satisfaction, too, she said. "It really does align with those values."

The kiosks do more than check patients in: They confirm patient's identity and allow them to make payments with the swipe of credit card. The system sends receipts via email. The system also prompts users to update their demographic information if necessary, provides access to Sharp's online patient portal and scans insurance cards. The check-in process takes one to two minutes.

In the initial pilot program, 291 patients used the kiosks to check in. When surveyed, most were satisfied with the ease of check-in: 68 percent called it "very good" and 24 percent said the experience was "good."

Additionally, 78 percent said instructions for using the kiosks were "very good," 75 percent said they'd use the kiosk in the future and 68 percent said they'd recommend it to another patient.

In open-ended responses, patients said they were happy they didn't have to wait in line, that it saved time, that it was fast and easy and that it was easy to navigate and read--even without glasses.

"[We've had] positive reactions from staff, too. Once we did the pilot, the other sites were asking, 'when do we get our kiosk?'" Calleran said. "The doctors, nurses and providers know if the front end can process the patients, it will streamline their workflow, and it's very positive, the synergy is there. They want to know how fast we can get them deployed."

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