Article Date: 10/1/2013

Keep the Forms Simple
merchandising
MARKETING & MERCHANDISING

Keep the Forms Simple

Even paperless practices can’t escape forms. But you can minimize them.

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GINA M. WESLEY O.D., M.S., F.A.A.O.

As paperless as we can be, we can’t completely elude forms. Forms are mandated by insurance, by our practices, by the government ... something to sign, read, keep, scan or all the above. If you think of benefit forms, HIPAA documents, contact lens fitting agreements, dry eye disease questionnaires, etc., “daunting” doesn’t begin to describe the patient’s perspective. How can you keep all this information as simplified and streamlined as possible, for both your patients and staff?

Review.

When was the last time you reviewed your own forms? Are they easy to understand? Fill out? Digest? Match your health questions as closely as you can to how your EHR lists them for notation. This helps staff when keying in that data. Editing existing forms may simplify the process greatly.

Consolidate.

On intake forms, see what you can group together for ease of perusal. In my office, this applies to new patients since we have no data from them in regards to health, insurance, etc. Are questions repetitive? Can you group similar forms together (e.g., insurance payment agreements and HIPAA)? To be efficient, e-mail appropriate documents ahead of time to your new patients, and have them fill in necessary info prior to office arrival.

Simply ask.

I don’t think it’s necessary to have established patients fill out their health history on paper at every appointment. A well-trained technician can simply ask about changes in health status, as well as new medications. If clarification is needed, the doctor can intervene during the exam. The answers can simultaneously be entered into your EHR without using any paper. The same applies to the dry eye disease questionnaire. We’ve found that patients have a greater understanding of what we are looking for when we verbally ask and describe inquiries to them, instead of them pouring over questions they may not entirely “get,” but answer regardless because they are “supposed” to.

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Incorporate technology.

We started using tablets to have our patients sign an annual form, acknowledging agreement to pay any fees not covered by insurance. This form is e-mailed to a general staff inbox and then uploaded into the patient’s EHR record. (Although convenient, we don’t use Web-based file-sharing services for such items as to not violate HIPAA rules and regulations). This practice saved my relatively “paperless” practice hundreds of dollars in paper and shredding costs this year.

Before we incorporated the tablet, we used laminated forms that patients signed with nonpermanent pens. This was immediately scanned into their EHR record, then cleaned and sanitized to be ready for the next patient.

A merchandising connection

These tactics serve to streamline, or eliminate all together, the complex forms we present to our patients. Now what, you ask, does this have to do with merchandising? Simply this: The less time patients spend on paperwork, the more time they have to browse your optical or learn about your latest in-office technology. You have finite time with most patients. Make the most of it. OM


DR. WESLEY PRACTICES AT COMPLETE EYE CARE OF MEDINA, WHICH SHE OPENED IN 2008. SHE WAS HONORED AS MINNESOTA’S OPTOMETRIST OF THE YEAR IN 2011. E-MAIL DRWESLEY@CECOFMEDINA.COM, OR SEND COMMENTS TO OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.



Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: October 2013, page(s): 36