Health Tech

Digital Patient Intake Supports Human-Centric Care

Piotr Orzechowski, Founder & CEO of Infermedica

Every year healthcare providers like nurses and physicians are ranked among the most trusted professionals, but according to a recent study, over 76% of patients leave their doctor’s office feeling dissatisfied and often more confused about their health than before their visit. So what is causing this breakdown? Oftentimes it is the processes, not the people, that present the biggest challenges to quality care.

For example, nearly half of patients cite having to repeatedly explain their situation to different people as a major source of frustration when seeking healthcare. Others say that unanswered questions or not having enough time to even ask any are also major reasons for their dissatisfaction. While many patients believe that their providers should be making better use of technology to improve their patient experience, 69% of clinicians report being overwhelmed with the current volume of patient data they receive.

There is no doubt that improving the collection and flow of information throughout the care journey has never been more important, but in order to make meaningful change, technologies need to be designed with both patients and physicians in mind. What better place to start developing and testing potential solutions than in primary care?

One of many examples of where technology can help bridge gaps is through the patient intake process, still conducted by many healthcare providers through paper forms. In an office setting, patients may forget to bring up important information beyond their current symptoms, including risk factors like chronic conditions, medications, allergies, and previous hospitalizations or operations. Breakdowns in communication can also be caused by the medical jargon used by the physicians and language/cultural differences between the patient and provider.

Smart technology like digital intake forms can help to overcome some of these hurdles by giving patients the time and space to thoughtfully and accurately share their medical history, symptoms and concerns – ultimately resulting in patients leaving feeling more satisfied with their care and with more trust in their providers.

A digital patient intake process can also help providers deliver more efficient care considering the time constraints they face, by giving them more opportunities to prepare for an appointment and communicate with patients directly and empathetically, rather than in “information-gathering mode.” According to Elsevier Health’s Clinician of the Future Global Report, nearly half of clinicians cite the allocated time they have with patients as an issue, as only 51% believe that the allotted time allows them to provide satisfactory care. Provider-facing features like easy-to-view patient profiles with medical history and automated note taking can also help to reduce distractions during an appointment, and lists of probable conditions and simple EHR data transfer can all help to enrich both the patient and provider experience.

Digital data collection can also play a major role in reducing the administrative burden on physicians, nurses, and medical assistants already struggling with job dissatisfaction and the growing healthcare workforce shortage. By digitally collecting and integrating patient data, we not only minimize the need for tedious data entry contributing to physician unhappiness, but enable providers to use their EHRs to their full potential. Furthermore, by eliminating the middle-man and collecting patient information directly from the source, health systems actually gain a new and high-quality data stream — undiluted by the all-too-common game of telephone between patients, medical assistants, and physicians.

Underscoring all of this is the impact that better patient information gathering has on both cost and accessibility. With a higher volume of patient data, providers can also take a more holistic and personalized approach to patient care, ultimately resulting in better outcomes for patients and lower costs for payers.

Despite the concerns that some people have expressed about digital transformation in healthcare, more technology in healthcare will not result in impersonal care. Instead, integrated advanced technology has and will continue to increase healthcare’s efficiency and reduce administrative burden so that patients can receive more face-to-face time and personalized care from their providers.

The editorial staff had no role in this post's creation.