Patient Intake Software

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Buyers Guide

Last Updated: November 22, 2022

Wait time has a direct impact on patient satisfaction. Research by Vitals, an online resource geared toward helping patients find health care providers, shows that patients who wait longer than 20 minutes are more likely to leave negative reviews than patients whose wait times are shorter.

This is where patient intake software can help. These systems enable medical practices of all sizes and specialties to cut down their wait times and positively impact patient satisfaction.

In this buyer's guide, we'll explain how patient intake software fits into the larger medical software market, what you need to know during the selection process and how these tools can help improve your practice's workflow.

Here's what we'll cover:

What Is Patient Intake Software?
Common Functionality of Patient Intake Software
Top Benefits for Medical Practices
Deployment Options and Integrations
Patient Intake Software Pricing

What Is Patient Intake Software?

Patient intake software is a HIPPA-compliant system that allows patients to fully complete the check-in process online before coming into the office for an appointment.

Without this software, patients must either fill out their intake forms in the waiting room at the time of their appointment, or they could go to your website, print out copies of the intake forms, fill them out and bring them into the office at the time of their visit.

With both options, your administrative team still has to process the forms manually by verifying insurance information and copying the written data into the system.

In-office or downloadable forms also put your medical practice at risk due to issues such as illegible handwriting, which can make dealing with insurance companies and deciphering patient histories a burden you simply don't have time to deal with.

As such, neither option reduces the amount of time your patients spend in your waiting room as much as patient intake software can.

With online intake forms, on the other hand, patients complete all the necessary paperwork online, before their appointment. Patient histories are typed, so you can always read what they've written. They submit the forms online, so insurance information is processed much faster and verified ahead of time, significantly reducing in-office wait times.

Patient intake functionality within drchrono EHR software

Patient intake functionality within drchrono EHR software


Common Functionality of Patient Intake Software

The primary function of patient intake software is intake document gathering. However, the breadth of features within these systems can vary greatly.

Many vendors in this space offer a range of software capabilities, which makes customizing a system according to the needs of your practice and specialty much easier.

Here are some of the common features you'll be choosing from:

Administrator dashboard Allows your admin team to view patient profiles, billing status, documents, appointments etc. at any point in the process. Provides a one-stop portal to access all of your system's features.
Digital forms Make all intake paperwork available to your patients to fill out and submit in advance of their appointments. Many systems can be configured to automatically index patient information if integrated with your existing electronic medical records (EMR) system.
Form templates and customization Most vendors provide templates of common intake forms, which can be edited or customized according to your needs or specialty.
Demographics Collect demographic information such as age, gender, race and employment from patients to provide insight into your client base.
Patient surveys Gather feedback from your patients about their visits to help improve the patient experience.
Reporting Take information gathered in surveys, demographic questions or other forms and create charts to provide visual representations of data.
Insurance validation Verify copayments and benefits before patients arrive for their appointments, so you won't run into issues with payment collection. This also serves patients by making it clear what services are and are not covered by insurance, so there won't be any surprises.
Messaging Communicate with patients securely through a patient portal to answer questions or send reminders about upcoming appointments, intake forms etc.
Appointment reminders Patients can elect to receive text, email or voice reminders about upcoming appointments to help them keep track of their schedules.
Document sharing Includes image scanning and e-signatures to make it as simple as possible to share and store all the information you need.

Top Benefits for Medical Practices

The benefits of patient intake software go far beyond its ability to save your staff and your patients time (although that one benefit alone cannot be overstated).

A few of the other major advantages to using intake software include:

  • Better control over your schedule. Streamlining the intake process creates more time for your admin staff to perform their other duties, such as answering questions and helping patients schedule future appointments.
  • Prevalidated insurance information. No more having patients get caught off guard by what is or isn't covered and what they have to pay out of pocket. Verify insurance benefits and copays before the appointment and make the billing process smoother.
  • Collect more accurate data from patients. Asking patients to provide detailed histories off the top of their head can cause them to leave out important details. By giving them access to these forms early, they're able to fill them out when they're more relaxed and when details are easier to remember. Also, patients have time to track down any information they don't know, so your charts are more complete and accurate.
  • Information is electronic and secure. Software that integrates with your EMR connects patient information to their chart from the start. Additionally, HIPPA-compliant and certified software takes some of the burden off of you.

Deployment Options and Integrations

Intake functionality is often included as an application within larger EMR software suites, practice management systems or patient portals.

Stand-alone patient intake software should integrate with medical systems already in place at your practice and enhance the services you offer patients with capabilities such as appointment reminders and messaging.

Patient intake software is very closely aligned with patient check-in kiosks, and, in many cases, this software works in conjunction with kiosk hardware. The two don't have to come as a package, though, as intake software can live on the cloud and be deployed as a web-based portal with unique logins for each of your patients.

Patient Intake Software Pricing

Because these tools come in so many different models with varying functionality, it's hard to pin down a price range. Most software vendors offer pricing packages that vary in cost according to the features included.

For example, a basic patient intake system may only include functionality for online forms—templates, branding, e-signatures etc.—while a more robust package would include all of the features from the basic offering in addition to more of the traditional practice management or check-in functionality, such as scheduling and billing.

You'll find that most vendors prefer to provide price quotes during demos or consultations, so they can be more specific to the features you need. That makes budgeting a little trickier, but our team of advisors can quickly narrow the list of vendors in your market and put you in contact with the providers you want to talk to. Call us at (855) 998-8505 for a consultation when you're ready.