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The business of the patient journey | Onboarding new patients

As demand for private healthcare increases, what can you do to ensure your practice is ready to welcome more insured and self-pay patients and provide a seamless service? In this series, Product and Marketing Liaison and former practice manager, Desné Marston, breaks down the patient journey to look at how admin supports the delivery of great care and explains how we can help.

Onboarding new patients

A steady flow of new patient bookings is a healthy sign for your practice but that initial contact is also an important moment in their journey.

If you want to make a positive first impression and avoid problems later on you need to focus on these three steps:

Communication

With many people accessing private healthcare for the first time, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your onboarding information for new patients is clear, comprehensive and consistent across all communication channels. This needs to happen before they attend.

When confirming an appointment, it’s important to set out how much the initial consultation is going to cost, as explained in our previous blog. It’s also a good idea to include practical information such as directions to your practice as this reduces the risk of delays and missed appointments. Explain what to do if they can’t make their appointment and set out your cancellation policy if you have one.

Finally, a welcome guide is a useful way to showcase your practice and highlight the milestones in the patient journey including registration, making an appointment, insurer authorisation and payment arrangements. Most people find it reassuring to know what to expect and it reduces the likelihood of misunderstandings.

Data-gathering

Patient registration is your earliest and best opportunity to gather information and ensure your record is complete and accurate. You definitely need their name, address, date of birth, contact details, GP details and how they are going to pay (insurance or self-funding). Missing or inaccurate information – even something as simple as a misspelled surname – could prove awkward and eventually make it impossible to submit your invoice to an insurer. Ask patients to complete and sign a registration form that includes your terms and conditions (T&Cs) when they arrive for their first appointment. I also recommend asking patients to check and confirm a registration form at each subsequent visit to minimise the chances of a dispute later. This then becomes your formal contract with the patient for each visit.

The T&Cs should clearly state that it’s their responsibility to ensure that invoices are paid (whether or not they have health insurance) and that they undertake to pay any shortfalls. A digital signature is generally fine if you have a patient portal that allows them to send this securely and you want to get the paperwork sorted out before they arrive.

As you’d expect from our practice and financial management solution, ePractice includes smart tools to help you keep track of your patients throughout their journey, starting with the onboarding process. Once you have the necessary data, it’s easy to add new patients, enabling you to securely store all their data and search your patient list from one place, as well as create flags, notes and alerts against individual patients. If you’re an existing ePractice user, you can sign up for this free short session with Healthcode Academy, which takes you through all the steps of adding a new patient and how to search your patient list.

Verification

Verifying patients’ identity against a driving licence or another form of ID is an opportunity to confirm their details are accurate and avoid mix-ups such as sending a letter to the wrong address.

It’s also important to verify their insurance details or there’s a risk you won’t get paid. Even if a patient says they have health insurance, it doesn’t guarantee that they have a valid policy. It might have expired, for example, or their company scheme might have transferred to a different insurer.

It’s in your interests to check their status at the outset so you aren’t left with an unpaid insurer invoice and the prospect of pursuing an unhappy patient for the outstanding balance. Bear in mind that someone’s insurance status may have changed since your practice last saw them for a consultation or diagnostic tests which is why you should check their details again at every visit.

ePractice makes this a breeze with the Membership Enquiry feature (available on Lite or Pro) which lets you match patients’ details against the information held by their insurer* so you can confirm if a patient is currently insured with who they say and their details are correct, without the need for multiple telephone calls. One of our knowledgeable Healthcode Academy team can help you explore this ePractice feature as part of the same free online tutorial mentioned earlier on adding patients.

* Currently Aviva, AXA Health, Bupa and VitalityHealth – we’re working with other insurers to extend this service.

Patient-friendly and effective onboarding enables you to obtain all the details you need from patients to provide an efficient service and explain what they need to know about your practice.


Discover More

If you want to learn more about how we can help you manage this and other aspects of the patient journey contact our Business Development team. If you’re already an ePractice user and want to explore the system, check out our guides or book a free 1-2-1 tutorial with one of our friendly experts at the Healthcode Academy


About Desné

Desné worked in the private healthcare sector at various sites in London for over 30 years. She has extensive experience and skills relating to all areas of practice administration, having been a practice manager from the early 90s to 2019 when she joined Healthcode.  

Next time – Managing the patient’s pathway

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