APR 24, 2020
Embrace an Alternative Check-In Process
If you decide to reopen a medical office to see patients after the COVID-19 emergency, you'll need to make decisions about your check-in protocols.
Assess your check-in process to ensure compliance with public health guidelines. This review will help you determine an alternative workflow that includes:
- Virus screening and temperature check
- Reduced contact and face-to-face discussions
- Adherence to social distancing guidelines
The traditional check-in process consists of three steps: 1) patient greeted, 2) check-in process, and 3) waiting room. By analyzing the processes involved for each step, you will be able to identify potential concerns and develop solutions.
The traditional process includes completion of these important steps prior to the patient encounter.
- Step 1: Patient Greeted – The patient arrives and is welcomed at the front desk.
- Concern: Face-to-face discussion
- Step 2: Check-in Process – The schedule is updated with the patient’s arrival. Necessary paperwork is collected or provided for the patient to complete (registration, history, HIPAA). Any copay is collected by cash or card.
- Concern: Staff-patient contact with multiple surfaces.
- Step 3: Waiting Room – The patient and guests proceed to the waiting room.
- Concern: Crowd gathering in confined space lacking social distancing
Assessment of the steps revealed three chief concerns. An alternative check-in addresses those concerns with various scenarios and solutions.
- Health Screening – Patient and guests are welcomed by a screener wearing personal protective equipment. All individuals are screened prior to entering the clinic for COVID-19, including health questions and temperature checks. Screening can be facilitated in the following locations:
- Parking lot
- Clinic entrance
- Virtual Check-In – Explore the adoption of digital technology for completing check-in procedures. Electronic Health Records (EHRs), patient portals or third-party software vendors may provide on-line options for completing registration, history and patient agreements (HIPAA, financial). These systems often provide an electronic payment system for collecting copays. These virtual alternatives eliminate or reduce contact in the office. Patients can be notified of the process prior to arrival.
- Modified Check-In – In absence of virtual options, a modified check-in can be developed. Important tasks can be completed with physical modifications of the screening area:
Paperwork and copays can be collected with minimal contact by staff wearing masks and gloves. Any contact areas will be sanitized upon completing check-in.
- Floor markers at 6-feet
- Clear protective screens
- Alternative Waiting Room – To adhere to social distancing guidelines, the waiting room concept can be redesigned. Options may include:
- Patients waiting in their vehicle until prompted by phone call, text or escorted to clinic, or
- Redesign the waiting room with 6-feet between seating. Eliminate magazines, coffee stations and children toys.