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Patient Onboarding: Build Trust and Loyalty with Patients

Patient Onboarding: The Critical First Step in Building Trust and Loyalty with Patients The patient onboarding process is the first touchpoint in the patient-provider relationship. […]

Patient Onboarding: The Critical First Step in Building Trust and Loyalty with Patients

The patient onboarding process is the first touchpoint in the patient-provider relationship. This critical step establishes trust and enhances engagement from the start. However, many healthcare organizations use outdated, inefficient onboarding methods that frustrate patients.

Patient Onboarding: Build Trust and Loyalty with Patients

Patient Onboarding: Build Trust and Loyalty with Patients

In this article, we explore modern patient onboarding best practices and how technology improves the process. We cover:

  • The importance of optimizing patient onboarding
  • Key features of intelligent onboarding platforms
  • Best practices for an effective onboarding process
  • The benefits of leveraging onboarding technology

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Why Patient Onboarding Matters

Patient onboarding refers to the initial experience when interacting with a healthcare provider. This includes filling paperwork, submitting health history, signing consent forms, and more.

With patient satisfaction and retention vital metrics, onboarding presents an opportunity to make a strong first impression. Research shows effective onboarding leads to:

  • Increased patient engagement
  • Improved patient loyalty
  • Higher likelihood patients will recommend the provider

Conversely, a poor onboarding experience can immediately damage the patient relationship. Frustrated patients may disengage and even switch providers, hurting retention.

Optimizing onboarding is crucial for establishing trust and confidence upfront. Patients who have a seamless, organized first interaction feel more positively towards the provider. This perception forms early and impacts the ongoing relationship.

Onboarding also collects critical patient data needed for proper care. Accurate medical history, insurance information, and documentation is required for effective treatment. When onboarding falters, this can delay access to care.

Finally, efficient onboarding gets revenue flowing faster. The quicker patients complete paperwork and enter the system, the sooner providers can bill for services. Slow, disjointed onboarding puts revenue at risk.

With so much at stake, healthcare leaders should prioritize improving their onboarding approach. Advanced onboarding platforms and revamped processes create a modern experience patients expect.

Key Features of Intelligent Onboarding Platforms

To optimize onboarding, leading healthcare systems use smart intake platforms with capabilities like:

  • Mobile optimization - Completing onboarding on smartphones or tablets enhances convenience. Mobile-friendly forms auto-scale for small screens with easy navigation.
  • Form auto-fill - Patient information pre-populates from integrated systems, removing duplication. Data flows in from electronic health records, insurance rosters, and more.
  • eSignature - Patients can electronically sign documents for faster completion. eSignature integrates with touch screens and tracks detailed analytics on signing.
  • Data integration - Patient-entered data flows into back-end systems, preventing manual re-entry. APIs push info into EHRs, PM systems, and other platforms.
  • Customization - The platform matches the healthcare organization's brand and workflows. Forms, branding, and steps tailor to specific needs.
  • Analytics - Dashboards track onboarding metrics like completion rate, drop-off, timing, and more. Staff can identify issues and optimize workflows.
  • Security - Encryption, access controls, and authentication safeguard sensitive patient data. Platforms comply with healthcare regulations like HIPAA.

These capabilities create a modern, engaging, and efficient onboarding experience. Patients can complete steps online or through kiosks ahead of appointments. Their information seamlessly flows into provider systems.

Best Practices for Improving Onboarding

Beyond the technology, providers should follow onboarding best practices:

  • Simplify paperwork - Condense forms and steps when possible. Overly complex onboarding frustrates patients. Provide only essential documents. Let technology handle data flows.
  • Set clear expectations - Communicate what patients should complete before arriving. Share directions for navigating the process. Set expectations upfront and outline next steps.
  • Optimize for mobile - Today's consumers expect mobile-friendly experiences. Make sure onboarding works seamlessly on smartphones and tablets.
  • Include educational materials - Send useful content on topics like "How to prepare for your first appointment." This builds patient excitement and understanding.
  • Use analytics - Track onboarding metrics like completion rate, drop-off, timing, and more. Identify problem areas causing fall-off and fix them.
  • Gather feedback - Survey patients after onboarding on their experience. Implement feedback to continually improve.
  • Train staff - Ensure all staff involved in onboarding, including front desk reception, understand the process and can assist patients.

Following best practices enhances onboarding at both the system and human level. Well-designed technology combines with high-touch patient support.

The Benefits of Onboarding Technology

Intelligent onboarding platforms provide benefits for patients, providers, and healthcare organizations:

For patients

  • More convenient, user-friendly experience
  • Less hassle submitting information
  • Expedited access to care
  • Clear guidance on next steps
  • Mobile accessibility

For providers

  • Accelerated speed to revenue
  • Lowered administrative costs
  • More time for high-value work
  • Improved data accuracy
  • Better prepared patients

For organizations

  • Increased patient satisfaction
  • Improved loyalty and retention
  • Higher referral rates
  • Data-driven optimization
  • Brand differentiation

Patient Onboarding: Build Trust and Loyalty with Patients

Benefits of Modern Onboarding Technology

For Patients For Providers For Organizations
More convenient experience Accelerated speed to revenue Increased patient satisfaction
Less hassle Lowered admin costs Improved loyalty and retention
Faster access to care More time for high-value work Higher referral rates
Clear next steps Improved data accuracy Data-driven optimization
Mobile accessibility Better prepared patients Brand differentiation

Onboarding technology and process upgrades benefit all stakeholders. Patients complete onboarding faster with less frustration. Providers enhance revenue and workflows. Organizations drive higher satisfaction, loyalty, and referrals.

Onboarding Sets the Stage for the Entire Relationship

Optimized onboarding does more than just collect patient information. It sets the stage for the entire patient-provider relationship. Positive first impressions lead to better long-term perceptions.

This "halo effect" means onboarding has an outsized impact. If patients struggle through a disjointed, confusing process initially, they will resent the provider. But convenient, organized onboarding builds trust and satisfaction.

That's why onboarding requires both digital capabilities and high-touch human support. Technology handles data flows and form completion. But staff must provide concierge guidance. Combining both elements ensures patients feel cared for throughout.

Onboarding is also the ideal opportunity to reinforce brand identity. When forms, materials, and instructions reflect a provider's voice and values, it strengthens their reputation. Patients equate those qualities with the care experience.

Additionally, the data foundation built during onboarding powers downstream initiatives. Accurate patient data feeds enhanced care coordination, population health management, patient communication, and more.

Finally, onboarding begins the patient education process on what to expect from the provider and how to navigate care. This understanding leads to smoother visits and empowers patients to manage health proactively.

Given its broad impact, healthcare leaders cannot afford to overlook onboarding. Viewing it as merely a formality rather than critical juncture is shortsighted.

Case Study: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center

The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) provides an excellent case study on the benefits of transforming patient onboarding.

UPMC is an $18 billion integrated delivery network with hospitals, doctors' offices, rehabilitation centers, and more. But its onboarding process was fragmented across sites and channels. Patients struggled through redundant forms, misplaced data, and unclear expectations.

To create a modern onboarding experience, UPMC implemented a system-wide platform called MyUPMC. The digital portal provides:

  • Online form completion
  • Mobile optimization
  • Data integration with backend systems
  • eSignature capabilities
  • Customized, branded design

The results were impressive:

  • 65% of patients now onboard digitally via MyUPMC
  • Admin time spent per patient decreased 40%
  • Medical records accuracy improved 57%
  • Patient satisfaction scores rose 25%

By implementing a consistent, user-friendly portal, UPMC accelerated revenue, boosted loyalty, and laid the data foundation for population health programs.

The UPMC example demonstrates how revamping outdated onboarding processes with digital platforms leads to dramatic gains.

Onboarding Innovations on the Horizon

Looking ahead, healthcare providers can expect more innovations to further optimize onboarding:

  • Automated form prefill - Using AI and public records, platforms will auto-populate forms with patient data before they start. This removes laborious manual entry.
  • Smart workflows - Rules engines will customize onboarding steps based on patient attributes and needs. This creates tailored experiences.
  • Biometric ID - Patients will verify identity via fingerprint, facial recognition, or iris scans. This bolsters security and convenience.
  • Chatbots - AI chatbots will guide patients through onboarding, answering questions in natural language.
  • Predictive analytics - Systems will use machine learning to model the patient journey and identify process bottlenecks proactively.
  • Patient-centered design - Providers will co-design onboarding with patient input. This ensures an optimal, human-centric experience.

As digital innovation accelerates, onboarding platforms will enable increasingly personalized, automated, and predictive experiences.

Onboarding as a Competitive Differentiator

With healthcare consumerism on the rise, patients have high expectations for convenient digital experiences comparable to retail and banking. Outdated onboarding processes tarnish a provider's reputation.

That's why onboarding now serves as a competitive differentiator. Healthcare organizations invest in onboarding to attract and retain patients through superior lifetime experiences.

They recognize onboarding goes beyond a formality. It sets the stage for the entire relationship. Onboarding done right earns patient trust and loyalty from the first interaction.

As expectations evolve, onboarding is transitioning from back-office function to a strategic opportunity to attract, engage, and retain patients digitally. Investing in intuitive platforms and processes allows healthcare systems to start relationships right.


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