5 Myths About Online Patient Forms for Dental Practices
Having patients complete your practice forms is an absolute necessity. All dental practices require patients to complete new patient intake forms before a dentist can treat the patients. Since patient registration and practice policy forms are required for every new patient, why aren't dental practices evaluating and making business decisions to improve the efficiency of getting patient information including health and dental history?
There are many misconceptions on the use of online patient intake forms at a dental practice. These myths can lead a dental practice in making decisions that may not be the most useful and resourceful way of getting a new patient.
Here are the five most common myths:
1. PDF forms on your website is the same as having online forms.
I often hear dental practices stating that they have online forms for their patients. Upon evaluating their system, I noticed that a lot of dental practices have PDF forms online. These forms are available on their website for patients to print, complete and bring with them at the first dental appointment. Although the forms are available online, it is not the same thing as having electronic forms for patients to complete online and submit the forms to your practice once they are done. There are systems available today to help practices transform their paper forms to digital format where patients can fill out the forms and securely send the information to your practice.
2. Online forms are more difficult for patients to complete.
Why do you have a website for your dental practice? The benefits of having a website are making your practice contact information accessible to patients, providing patients with information about your practice, increasing your opportunity to gain new clients through online search, advertising and marketing your dental practice, and so much more. So, why not offer your patients the ability to complete required forms online? According to the 2016 survey from Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans own smartphones. Smartphones and mobile devices have dramatically changed the ways we do things. By having new patient dental forms available online, patients have the ability to complete the forms on their own time from anywhere. Improve patient experience by offering mobile friendly patient forms. Also, simplify your online forms by tailoring your forms to ask questions that are relevant to each patient. For example, you can make it easier for patient to complete the forms online by adding conditional logic. Unlike paper forms, you can start off by asking the patient if he/she has dental insurance instead of displaying every field under the insurance information section. If patient selects no, the patient will move on to the next section.
3. There isn't a way to create online forms customized to my dental practice's needs.
Most patient registration, medical and dental forms have similar fields and questions. However, your practice forms and messages to patients can be unique to your practice. Some dental practices offer different types of dental treatment or have different office policies in place. Therefore, it is important to have customizable online patient forms to fit your practice's needs. Look into software companies, specifically ones that specialize in the dental market, who can accommodate your specific forms and still work with your current dental software.
4. Online forms will not work with my practice management software.
While there may not be a solution for every dental software in the market, there is still the option to use online forms for patients to complete and submit to your practice before their appointments. This process is more efficient because patients can complete and submit the forms from home. Your practice will receive the forms prior to the patient's appointment. Doctors will have the ability to review the medical and dental information prior to having the patient in a chair. Front desk team members will be able to contact insurance companies to verify the cost for patients even before their appointment. There are also solutions available with direct software integration into Dentrix, Eaglesoft, OrthoTrac, Softdent, WinOMS and etc. Having your online forms available to download directly to your practice management software will save your practice time and money. Your practice can eliminate the manual steps of typing in the information into your software and then scanning the paper forms so that you can import them into the patient's chart.
5. Electronic signature isn't legal.
Do you consider signing your name on an electronic pad at Target legal? "Wet ink" signature is the traditional method of signing a document, whereas an electronic signature is the modern approach to having a paperless environment for businesses. Electronic signatures are just as legally binding as signatures on paper. It is important that patients understand that by signing the documents online they are acknowledging to be legally bounded by the electronic signature. Some important tips to consider when using electronic signatures are:
- Add a disclosure statement, such as "You agree that your electronic signature is the legal equivalent to your manual signature on paper."
- Verify that the system you are using is secure and encrypted.
Having forms online isn't about being a paperless practice. It is about being efficient and eliminating the extra steps needed to get a new patient into a dental chair at your practice. There are many benefits in switching your patient dental forms from paper to digital. Reducing patient wait times enhances patient satisfaction and it can help your practice operate more efficiently and cost-effectively.