If you have recently opened a clinic, you will by now have come to appreciate the importance of running it efficiently while providing your clients with outstanding service.
A medical practice is a business but at the same time, it provides unique services that affect clients in probably the most personal aspect of their lives.
It is therefore important to strike the right balance between delivering services to clients efficiently and with a personal touch that reassures them that you care about them as people.
In this article, we will discuss the importance of establishing a new patient register to run your clinic more efficiently. We will then set out some pointers for you to follow as you establish the register and make it an integral part of your clinic’s patient records.
Why Is A New Patient Register An Important Part Of Your Clinic’s Operations?
The new patient register is an essential component of your clinic’s onboarding process. It allows you (as the clinic owner) to capture important patient information about each new client. Once in place, the new patient will become an invaluable tool for you to monitor the operations of your business.
Specifically, the register will help you to ensure that:
- Each client’s treatment or rehabilitation needs are clearly explained to him or her right from the outset;
- The therapist has determined the number of appointments necessary to deliver those needs;
- The therapist has booked an adequate number of appointments to deliver the required treatments;
- The patient is keeping up with his or her treatment schedule
The new patient register is also an invaluable tool for effective marketing initiatives that you may decide to launch in the future.
What Are The Required Components Of An Effective New Patient Register?
In what follows, we will outline each piece of information that we believe you should capture in your new patient register. We will also briefly explain the importance of each piece of information.
Date Of Initial Consultation & Patient’s Name
The importance of this information should be self evident. It helps to to ensure that the patient receives his or her necessary treatments in a satisfactory period after the initial visit. To do this, it is important to know the date on which he or she first visited the clinic and received an initial examination and treatment plan. Essentially, the clock starts at that date.
This will be the name of the therapist responsible for delivering the required treatments.
This will be the name of the receptionist who explained the new patient welcome process and then arranged a follow up appointment at the end of the first visit.
How this client found out about your business (referral from another heath care practitioner, newspaper ad, website, etc.)
The area of the client’s injury (e.g. knee, ankle, back). This can be useful to the monitoring process to ensure that any required treatment protocols for specific body areas are met.
Confirmation That Client Has Received A New Patient Folder
Ideally, all new clients should receive a welcome pack at the time of registration. That pack should include:
- The latest clinic newsletter;
- General information about your clinic, including a complete list of the services provided;
- Ideally, a voucher for a complimentary assessment that they can give to friends or family.
The new patient register should include a checkmark box for the receptionist or onboarding staff member to confirm whether the new client has received a folder.
Confirmation That Client Has Signed A New Patient Agreement
The New Patient Agreement should include all the terms of conditions of your practice, including:
- Cancellation Policy, with minimum notice period required to cancel an appointment with no fee being paid;
- Permission from the client to contact their primary physician if necessary;
- Patient feedback survey (normally completed after the initial visit);
- Payment policy (when payments must be made and the forms of payment accepted).
The new patient register should include a checkmark box for the onboarding staff member to confirm that the client has received, signed and returned a copy of the New Patient Agreement.
Confirmation That Client Has Received A Recommended Treatment Plan
The recommended treatment plan should be one of the key deliverables from the initial consultation. It is essentially a summary of the recommended treatment to address the injuries or other health care problems with which the patient has presented.
Among other things, the treatment plan should include the number and frequency of appointments needed for the patient to achieve a satisfactory recovery outcome.
The number of appointments in the treatment plan will ultimately have to be compared with the number of appointments the new patient schedules at the front desk before leaving the clinic.
The benefit of the treatment plan is that the new patient will know exactly the commitment required for him or her to achieve a satisfactory therapeutic outcome. The patient can then make the necessary changes to his or her schedule to ensure that he or she will be able to make the scheduled appointments. This is important to ensuring optimal patient compliance.
The receptionist will also be able to review the recommended treatment plan and schedule appointments to meet the recommended number and frequency of sessions.
The recommended treatment plan is therefore an important part of the onboarding process. As a result, the new patient register should include a checkbox for the onboarding staff member to confirm that one has been prepared as part of the initial consultation.
Future Bookings Made
This is the number of consultations scheduled by the new patient when presenting the recommended treatment plan to the front counter after the initial assessment.
Ideally, you will want this number to be as close as possible to the number of consultations on the recommended treatment plan. It is not close to that number, the patient’s file should be flagged to ensure that he or she ultimately books the recommended number of consultations and completes the recommended treatment.
Number Of Appointments Completed Within The 30 Day Period After The Initial Consultation
This will be recorded in the new patient register 30 days after the initial consultation. The idea is to flag any patient files for which the number of completed appointments in the 30 day period falls well short of the number in the recommended treatment plan.
These patients can then be followed up to determine the reason for the slow rate of attendance and to rectify the situation.
Confirmation That Follow Up Call Has Been Made After The Initial Consultation
The new patient register should include a checkbox to confirm that the new patient has received a phone call within 24 hours of the first visit.
The purpose of the call would be to ensure that the patient has understood the recommended treatment plan. Ideally, the call should also include an appointment reminder concerning the patient’s next scheduled visit.
Patient Feedback Score From The Initial Consultation
The patient should also be asked to provide an overall feedback score at the end of the initial consultation. This score would then be entered on the new patient register.
Ideally, the form should capture separate scores for the performances of:
- The team responsible for the onboarding process;
- The therapist who conducted the initial assessment;
- The overall clinic.
A popular format for this type of question asks for a likelihood score that the patient would recommend the clinic to friends or family. The scale used would be 0 to 10, with 0 being extremely unlikely and 10 being highly likely.
Email Address Added?
The new patient register should also include a check box confirming that the new client’s email address has been added to the clinic’s database. This can then be used to send a Welcome email right after the initial visit. It can also be used to send updates regarding services offered by the clinic and much more.
Confirmation That Welcome Email Or Letter Has Been Sent
A final important entry in the register would be a checkbox for the onboarding team to use to confirm that the new patient has received an email or letter welcoming them to the practice.
A new patient register such as the one outlined above can be a valuable tool for management of your clinic. It will help you to ensure that key points in the patient onboarding clinic are being complied with.
This is also an important contributor to patient retention. It ensures that the patient’s initial experience of your clinic has been a positive one. In addition, it also ensures that his or her expectations for recovery have been properly managed. Both patient and clinic will have a common understanding of what it will take to achieve a satisfactory treatment outcome.