Doing Away with Patient Sign In Sheets

There was a time when a patient sign in sheet was enough to let those in medical offices keep track of who was coming in for an appointment. A simple sheet of paper was kept by the receptionist's desk, and as patients came in, they would sign their names (hopefully legibly) and scribble down the time that they showed up. There were problems, however, with using a patient sign in sheet to keep track of whom was coming into the office:
  • Not everyone wrote legibly, and, while the office staff might know who was scheduled at the time, by the end of the day or week when billing was being done (or an outside service was working on billing and coding) it could become difficult to recognize the names of the patients.
  • There was little privacy with a basic patient sign in sheet. When HIPAA compliance came into play, it was no longer appropriate to leave a list of patient names in a place that was accessible by anyone who came into the office. Other patients as well as marketers and drug representatives that came into the office. In other words, basic sign in sheets were no longer an acceptable way of identifying who came into the office.
  • Most medical sign in sheets did not offer a spot to identify what motivated the patients to come into the office. Whether it was a new patient visit, a follow-up appointment or someone simply coming in to get a flu shot.
When HIPAA was put into place, most physicians did away with patient sign in sheets altogether, however this created an additional burden on the desk staff. If there was a call that came in, and three patients showed up around the same time, there would suddenly be a backup at the desk. Fortunately, there is a solution. With a computerized medical check in station, it is possible for patients to sign themselves in for their appointments using a simple touchscreen - and for that information to only be obtained by those office staff who have reason to access it. When your patients check in in this way, they will also be able to indicate either which physician in the practice they are at the office to see or to identify the nature of their appointment - whether it is something routine or more specific. As a result, those who need patient processing will have access to details about the patient, when he or she arrived and the reason for the office visit. Not only does a computerized system make it possible for you to keep accurate records for your practice and about your patients, but this solution to a lack of having a patient sign in sheet allows you to recognize more details than were available on those sheets. As a result, you are able to run your practice more effectively - which means that patient care is improved and that it's easier to avoid billing conflicts and other issues.