Patients Demand Modern Clinical Intake Procedures: How to Respond 

Reading Time: 6 minutes

By Chloe From Clearwave | March 27, 2023

Prioritize the modern registration experience patients want or they will go to the next provider.  

The ability to pre-register for appointments has become a top requirement that patients are looking for from their healthcare providers. A post recently went viral, where an oncology patient shared how traumatic it is for patients with a cancer diagnosis to constantly fill out forms. While oncology patients come into the office far more regularly than general specialty healthcare patients, nearly 50% of patients want the ability to check in or complete health forms before arriving. Judging by how viral that initial post went, that number could be increasing.  

Why is traditional clinical intake a major source of patient frustration?

We all lead busy lives, and it can be difficult for many patients to find the time to squeeze in a healthcare appointment. When they do, they expect the experience to be as fast and seamless as possible.  

According to a recent Patient Experience Report, 79% of patients place a high importance on timeliness and wait times when deciding if they want to continue to see the same doctor. The report also highlights that 68% of patients considered a “fast check-in process” as important to their in-office experience.  

A significant source of patient frustration is having to arrive at their provider’s office 15-to-20 minutes early for an appointment just to complete pen-and-paper intake. This traditional approach often results in slow patient check-in and long wait times – in many cases, leading to crowded waiting rooms and patients becoming unhappy before they even make it back to see their provider. It also leads to an overwhelmed front desk and patient registration errors as workers transfer data from paper forms to a practice management system (PMS) or electronic health record (EHR). 

While a few years ago this may have been just the way things were and something we all had to deal with, digital capabilities have changed the game. Patients know this and expect their providers to adapt accordingly. The fact of the matter is patients want to complete their registration information from the comfort of their own homes. They want ownership and ease. 

How to modernize patient pre-registration and clinical intake

Have patients fill out forms ahead of time and drop the amount of “repeat” paperwork patients have to complete in the office, so you can significantly reduce wait times and help your patients in pain get to the exam room faster. While you may not be able to control when additional forms must be completed, there are strategies high-growth practices take to meet patient demands when it comes to completing registration with clinical intake prior to their arrival. 

Top-performing healthcare practices are meeting patient demand and optimizing operations by offering digital pre-registration and clinical intake. With this approach, rather than having to arrive at their appointment 20 minutes early to fill out paper forms, patients have the option to pre-register and fill out all the necessary demographic and medical history information, including pre-screeners and consents, in advance of their visit – anywhere, at any time. 

Here’s how digital pre-registration works: 

  • An appointment reminder is sent to patients via email or text. A pre-check link is embedded within this message. 
  • When patients click the link, they are prompted to complete pre-registration and clinical intake digitally. 
  • When they arrive for their appointment, the check-in process is expedited and efficient. Patients simply check-in, pay and are ready to be seen.

That’s it. Digitizing the clinical intake process in this way may seem like a simple thing, but it can have a big impact on patients, practice operations and staff. Here’s a closer look at each. 

1. Benefits for Patients

It’s clear from the statistics and viral social media posts that patients want the convenience to pre-register for appointments on their own time. Additionally, with digital intake processes, rather than arriving 15-to-20 minutes early for an appointment, patients can arrive and check in within a minute or two. These drastically reduced wait times keep patients happy, leading to better visits and making them more apt to schedule future healthcare appointments.

In a recent webinar on How Top-Performing Practices are Modernizing Clinical Intake, Sydnie Murphy, patient access assistant manager at the Nebraska Orthopaedic Center, described just how much of a difference digital pre-registration and clinical intake has had on patient lives: 

I think one of the biggest things with orthopedics is that our patients are in a lot of pain. We don’t typically see patients coming in that aren’t hurting. So, we’re giving patients the ability to do something in the comfort of their own homes and then come in. They are already anxious and nervous. A lot of our patients have pretty significant injuries, so being able to let them do that or have help from somebody at home and then come in has made it a lot less stressful for our patients.” 

2. Practice Operation Benefits

A streamlined check-in and clinical intake process keeps waiting rooms from overflowing despite high daily patient volume – empowering practices to maximize patient throughput and scale for growth. Murphy describes how Clearwave helps front office staff keep up with provider volume in this video clip:


Additionally, automating and digitizing patient data capture removes the manual element. Front-desk employees no longer have to try to decipher illegible handwriting or spend hours transferring data. With automation, the risk of human error is removed, and for your practice, this translates to cleaner claims, lowered penalties and rejections and even faster reimbursements for better financial health.  

On the other side of the office, when practices offer a speedy check-in combined with reduced wait times, they deliver a superior patient experience that helps them retain existing patients.

In fact, Murphy noted that since implementing Clearwave, Nebraska Orthopaedic Center, which sees 2,000 patients each week, has been able to maintain a: 

  • 47% drop in average wait time 
  • 33% drop in new patient wait time 
  • 1 min, 44 second average check-in time 

Hear how she describes the impact this has on patients in this video clip from our recent webinar:


3. Benefits for Staff

Murphy observes that front desk workers have been able to focus more on the patients and their care rather than spending their time determining what patient data they need to capture. On the webinar, she notes: “Staff have really noticed a difference in the time that they’ve been able to spend with patients.”  

Automating and digitizing the pre-check and clinical intake process relieves staff from spending hours on check-in and mundane data entry. Instead, they are freed to handle other tasks that can’t be automated and spend more time genuinely interacting with patients. 

Listen to more of what she has to say here:

How to find a proven solution

It should be noted that not all digital pre-check and clinical intake solutions are created equal. Look for a proven solution that offers all the benefits above as well as:   

  • Passwordless patient pre-check: While you may be inclined to use your PMS or EHR to enable patients to pre-register for their appointments, adding a password wall may hinder patient adoption. Instead, find a solution that allows you to offer passwordless patient pre-registration and clinical intake by including digital pre-check links in appointment reminders or other patient notifications. Practices see high patient utilization of pre-check, upward of 60%, when it can be completed passwordless and portal-free. 
  • Integration with intake systems: Look for a solution that allows you to integrate the patient demographics and medical history you capture through pre-check directly into your PMS and EHR. For example, Murphy discusses how Clearwave helps her team capture important merit-based incentive payment system (MIPS) data via clinical intake and reconcile it with the company’s PMS/EHR. Listen here:

Implement Pre-Check at Your Practice

Clearwave can help you modernize your pre-registration and clinical intake process to build patient loyalty, increase employee satisfaction, optimize operations and scale for growth. Schedule a 30-minute demo to see how you can provide the modern pre-check experience that your patients demand. 

Watch the full webinar featuring Nebraska Orthopaedic Center or take a minute to read their story for quick tips you can tackle now! 


Related Posts

How to See More Patients Without Adding or Overworking Staff 

Reading Time: 6 minutes By Chloe From Clearwave | April 18, 2024 Specialty healthcare practices across the country are struggling to manage rising patient…

Read More > Read More >

Top 2 Trends Dermatology Practices are Focused on in 2024

Reading Time: 4 minutes By Chloe From Clearwave | March 4, 2024 To remain competitive in a constantly evolving healthcare landscape, top-earning dermatologists and…

Read More > Read More >

3 Ways Orthopedic Practices Can Build Economic Resilience  

Reading Time: 4 minutes By Blakely Roth | February 13, 2024 Rising costs, wage increases, dropping reimbursement rates and economic uncertainty are leading practices…

Read More > Read More >

Subscribe For Updates