Patient Paperwork Struggle

Episode 029

Do you have new patients pre-register in your office? That’s exactly what I’ve been working to implement with my staff and our patients.

In today’s episode I discuss the struggles my practice has had with patient paperwork and our attempts to move to a paperless office. I also discuss my use of Formstack as a work around. Thanks for tuning in to episode 29 of the Business of Dentistry!


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One of the biggest ongoing frustrations I’ve had has been patient paperwork. All too often patients come in for their appointments and spend 20 minutes to 45 minutes filling out the basic forms necessary for their procedures.

We’ve tried a few other options including mailing the paperwork ahead of time, and emailing them with links to the forms online. Overall we’ve been moving towards a paper-free practice so the latter has been my preference. My office manager and I debated about gathering all the information online because he prefers the physical paperwork, and I would rather have everything done online.

So we’ve met in the middle and provide an online option, a mailing option and an in-person option. With the online forms we had some integration issues initially so I found a workaround in Formstack.

Formstack allows you to build your own online forms and documents; the forms can be customized according to your needs. Once the forms are built you add links on your web site and in your emails to your patients. The patients click the links and are able to fill in all the necessary information online, saving paper and making for a more efficient process overall.

In our experience there are pros and cons to taking information online. On the plus side your patients can fill out their information when it’s convenient for them, and they have their insurance information in their home so they don’t waste time in your office looking for it.

Also your staff knows who and what you are dealing with ahead of time. So if someone has special needs you’ll know that in advance. I know one practitioner who has gone so far as to have an online questionnaire asking his patients if they are afraid of the dentist, have any anxiety about their visit or if they’ve had a bad experience in the past. Knowing information like that helps him and his staff provide the best customer service experience possible.

While those benefits are great we’ve also seen some down sides to online forms. In some cases people are reluctant to fill in some information online (like financial details). We work around that by making some information optional online, and we gather those details when they come in.

Another drawback is some people either don’t have email or don’t check their email. If they don’t have email we’ve been mailing their paperwork to them. Of course sometimes they forget to bring their paperwork in and they have to fill out the information again, so they spend twice as much time on paperwork.

And if they don’t check their email we track that in our system and give them a call to remind them. Usually that is enough for them to remember to fill out their forms online, and everything is sorted by giving them that quick reminder call.

Overall we are working towards having 80% of our patient paperwork being done online, I think the more we can go paperless the more efficient and effective we will be as a practice. Going paperless and everything else we do is with the intention of providing the best overall customer experience we can for each and every person who comes into our office.

What do you think? What do you do in your office about patient paperwork? What has worked, and what hasn’t? Let me know in the comments below or send me an email, I’d love to hear from you!

Tweetable: A true 100% paperless practice is a unicorn.

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