When registering for treatment at a hospital, traditionally the patients will obtain a queue number and wait until they are tended by a registration officer. Among hospitals and other health facilities, this queuing at the registration counter is often a common problem. This might be caused by the disproportionate number of patients and registration staff and is even worse during peak days (over the weekends or Mondays) or seasons, such as after the holidays. As a result, the patients cannot be immediately looked after for registration, and may miss the doctor’s schedule.
There’s a growing trend of online registration, through which the patients can register themselves from outside the health facility. In the most conventional way, it is done with SMS or text-messaging apps such as Whatsapp. The patients would provide their details and the desired schedule. The registration officers, in turn, enter the data in their hospital information system (HIS). More sophisticated methods are by using a website or an iOS/Android-based mobile application, which are directly connected to the HIS.
But should you invest on an online registration method in your hospital? The following are some ways your hospital can benefit from a properly designed online registration platform.
- Increased convenience:
Patients can register online when and where is most convenient for them in just a few minutes, without having to manually fill out and submit paper forms. By providing key identifier such as the Patient ID, the patient’s details will be recalled instead of having to be typed in again. The process can also be done from a desktop, tablet, mobile phone, or any internet-enabled devices, rather than directly at the health facility.
- Reduced waiting time:
Waiting time is defined as the time it takes for a patient to register until the patient enters the doctor’s examination room. The Indonesian Ministry of Health regulated the standard of service in 2008 through Kepmenkes 129, stated that the maximum waiting time for outpatients should be less than 60 minutes. Longer waiting time may cause patient dissatisfaction and keep them from visiting the hospital again.
Many factors can affect a patient’s waiting time. A 2012 research conducted in specialist outpatient clinics in Singapore found the waiting time ranged from 5 to 97 minutes. Another research in Xijing Hospital, China identified waiting time as one of the main patient complaints, and a web-based appointment system could significantly increase patient’s satisfaction with registration and reduce total waiting time. This is in line with a 2015 research in Bandung that found online registration lowered the waiting time from 53.56 33.76 minutes.
- Minimized exposure during the COVID-19 pandemic:
Social distancing is one of the fundamental safety precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Keeping the staff and customers safe should be every business’s prominent concern.
Not having to spend much time waiting in line for a hospital registration reduces the patients’ exposure to the virus, therefore limiting the disease’s transmission.
Before the global pandemic of COVID-19, the benefit to modernising patient intake with online forms ranged from patient convenience and satisfaction to front desk efficiency and cost-savings in data entry. With the ongoing pandemic, businesses in many industries that involve booking shift to online registration, and the hospital industry is not an exception. The prevalence of guests booking online in-advance has been increasing slowly for years, but COVID 19 has caused a dramatic shift in the importance of the online experience.
- Ensured security:
The information available on paper forms are vulnerable to many parties. Paper forms need to be destroyed securely to prevent unwanted information access. Meanwhile, there is a growing concern of sharing or selling personal electronic data. This may hinder the patients from registering themselves online. However, if the form submission is done through a well-secured platform, and the database is stored on a highly secured server, without third parties’ involvement, the data security is ensured. The data should also be transferred through an encrypted method for maximum protection.
- More efficient and accurate process:
The conventional paper form method takes a substantial amount of patient’s time. And when the online registration is done through SMS or text messaging platform without integration to HIS, the registration officers will have to reenter the data. It can essentially become a clerical task that is as tedious and time-consuming, only done electronically. When integration to HIS is available, registration staff can simply verify the collected data and correct them necessarily, saving valuable time and avoiding potential errors.
- Better personnel planning and management:
Conventional registration process may take up human resources, because normally the operators are taken from medical record units, and they end up with double workload. Also, the hospital can hardly have a clear estimate about the number of incoming patients, until the last moment. With an integrated online registration system, the data are received in real time, allowing the organizers to have an actual update about the numbers. This is a great advantage for the organizers to plan the staff allocation ahead.
- Cost-efficient and environmentally friendly processes:
Paper forms, copying, and printing use our resources and money. That’s why the entire world is heading towards a paperless society. Such approach is also essential if we are concerned about environment. Since practically no papers are used for online registration systems, it will help your hospital cut cost and become greener.
To maximize the benefits of the online registration, some important steps need to be taken:
- Choose an online registration platform that can be easily accessed and is user friendly, especially for elderly patients who may not be as technologically savvy as the younger ones.
- The readiness of facilities and infrastructure prior to the implementation of online registration should also be prepared.
- It is important for the hospital to publish the latest updated schedules to avoid misinformation and rescheduling.
- Relevant employees should be made aware of the use of the online registration system, so that they know how to handle the online registration data, can give proper information whenever asked, and help to promote the feature to the public.
Ksatria eHospital provides an online registration platform that can be conveniently accessed from anywhere through any devices. It enables both existing and new patients to schedule a doctor’s appointment. Set up on the cloud with standardised encryption, it is also integrated with our main eHospital application, providing safe and seamless data transfer. It reduces the registration staff’ workload, while increases the patients’ satisfaction.