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How To Automate Your Intake Forms

As an allied health professional, what is the best part of your working day? Is it waiting for clients to fill out their patient intake forms? Is it when you find yourself with an extra 11 minutes between treatments because a client can’t find their intake form? Or is your favourite part leaving work an hour later each day because your appointments have been pushed back due to the paperwork and phone calls you need to return from new patient inquiries?

What’s that? None of those are the best part of your day?!?

We are not surprised. Patient intake forms are a critical part of allied health professional’s practices. However, the other critical part of your practice is time.

When practitioners are being paid by the hour, time is money.

You know what else also means money? New clients.

But how do allied health professionals such as massage therapists, naturopaths, and physiotherapists avoid losing valuable time on new patient intake forms?

The old-school practitioners? They are still using paper forms, waiting for patients to fill out forms by hand, or print them at home (and not too many people have home printers anymore either!) Talking a client through their intake form might seem like a nice touch, but is also a great way to lose time in your day.

The new-age pros? They are making their forms available online where patients can fill out their information, right there on the website. No downloading, no printing, no remembering to bring it to the appointment. Straightforward, efficient and filters out the recreational “looking around for a practitioner” calls that can suck up your time.

(Remember! An automatic intake form does not substitute for client information practitioners will need to document once they have started their treatments. The intake form is simply the initial document to open the conversation with a client and understand their needs.)

Here Are A Few Pro’s And Con’s Associated With Intake Forms For Allied Health Practitioners:

On The Importance Of Intake Forms: 

Pro: 

  • Intake forms allow practitioners to learn about their client prior to their initial treatment.
  • Intake forms act as a filter for potential clients. If they are unable to fill out a two-minute intake form, they might not be the client your practice wants.

Con: 

  • Intake forms may take a few hours and a little bit of extra effort to set up on your website.
  • Intake forms may also take patients a few minutes to fill out. This might be too much work for some, and risk losing them as a client.
On Having Electronic Intake Forms: 

Pro: 

  • You can spend less time on the phone with potential clients, “screening” them for their suitability for your practice and their seriousness about coming to your clinic.
  • The client does the primary intake for you. Your first appointment will start informed, with increased productivity.

Con:

  • You have limited phone calls with potential clients, who you can persuade to visit your practice.
  • You prefer to fill out the intake form yourself while speaking with potential new clients.
On Automating Your Intake Forms:

Pro: 

  • You can gauge the level of commitment from potential clients who take the time to fill out your form.
  • Limits wasted time between or during appointments filling out patient intake forms.
  • There is more time for practitioners to ask intelligent, detailed and assertive questions of your clients after reading the information they provided ahead of time.

Con: 

  • Potential clients may want to speak with a practitioner about their initial inquiry.
  • Potential clients may be uncomfortable downloading documents from your website.
  • Clients may forget to email or print a copy of their intake form to share with you
On Benefits To Having Digital Intake Forms: 

Pro:

  • Digital intake forms allow practitioners to populate client information in their digital file. This process avoids scanning documents or re-typing them into a digital file.
  • Reviewing digital intake forms early in the process, before a first phone call or initial visit, allows businesses to recommend other practitioners or practices if they are better suited. Nobody’s time is wasted!
  • Allows potential clients to fill out digital intake forms on-the-go from their mobile phones.

Con: 

  • Potential clients may not be computer savvy and feel uncomfortable completing a form online and try a different clinic.
  • If your business is not set up to automatically respond to a client once they have submitted their digital intake form, there is the potential that client will lose interest and look elsewhere for a service provider.

It is crucial to remember that each allied health care practice requires their own, unique set of questions, intake information, and details they want to know from potential clients.

Here Are A Few Examples Of General Questions To Ask When Automating Your Intake Forms:
  • What is your area of concern?
  • How long have you been experiencing this?
  • On a scale of 1-5 (1 being the lowest and 5 being the highest,) what is your level of pain or discomfort right now?
  • Do you know what might have caused this to occur?
  • What is your occupation?
  • What activities do you do to stay healthy and in good shape?
  • How many hours per week do you participate in physical activity?
  • Are you currently on any medications?
  • How many times per month do you stretch or participate in yoga?

Once practitioners have determined the list of questions relevant to their business, they can include these on their electronic intake form.

Every day, more businesses are migrating their practices from the old-school paper trails and hand-written documents to more up-to-date, automated electronic systems.

Electronic documenting allows for information to be documented in a more durable, secure way while allowing allied health professionals and businesses to streamline their processes.

Less time on the phone and fiddling with paperwork means more time for building your business, improving the care you provide patients, and enhancing the client experience once they have their first appointment with you.

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