Q&A: How mobile pre-registration simplifies the process for patients and providers

Published: May 2, 2024 by Experian Health

Q&A How mobile pre-registration simplifies the process for patients and providers

Improving the patient pre-registration process continues to present a challenge on both sides of the front desk. For patients, dealing with paperwork, struggling to provide the right information, and worrying about payment and insurance coverage make in-person registration feel fraught. Meanwhile, providers are searching for digital solutions to make the patient registration process simpler, more accurate, and more efficient.

How are providers tackling these patient registration challenges? Barb Terry, Product Manager at Experian Health, who oversees Registration Accelerator, a digital pre-registration solution, shares her perspective on the state of the industry and insights from Experian Health’s State of Patient Access 2024, a survey of 200 healthcare executives and more than 1,000 consumers conducted in February, 2024.

Q1: Why is patient registration still so challenging for providers?

“It continues to present challenges for both providers and patients,” says Terry. Despite the growing availability of patient registration software, many providers and their patients still contend with outmoded manual processes and confusion over insurance and the cost of care.

For providers still coping with staffing shortages, manual registration can be time-consuming and error prone. According to the State of Patient Access 2024 survey, 82% of providers who say access is a challenge cite staffing as a reason. Meanwhile, Terry estimates a typical registration process consumes 15 minutes of staff time and 10 minutes for patients: “It’s time that neither the provider nor the patient has,” she points out.

“The manual registration process for most offices requires printing, scanning, faxing, calling the patient a few times, and then manual data entry into the office systems,” Terry explains. “The provider is also under pressure to obtain financial clearance before the appointment. In many cases the provider team is working with reduced or new staff, managing repetitive and manual tasks for registration, all while striving to maintain a positive patient experience.”

Q2: Why is creating a positive registration experience important for patients?

“Patients are evolving into consumers of healthcare, meaning they’re more active in their healthcare decisions,” says Terry. “They have growing expectations of their healthcare experience and expect the same convenience and modernization they find with other industries like retail and financial services.”

To keep up, healthcare providers need to meet patients where they’re used to completing tasks and communicating—namely, on their smartphones. “Patients use their smartphones to complete many everyday tasks at their convenience. Many prefer to be contacted via text rather than with a phone call, since text allows them to answer when they have time.” Terry says.

Helping patients complete registration on their time increasingly means providing mobile solutions. As an example, Registration Accelerator sends patients a pre-registration link they can use to scan in their identity and insurance cards. Patients can locate their cards and scan them in wherever and whenever they prefer. Data is captured accurately and sent automatically to the eCare NEXT platform, where it can be verified and used for billing.

“Compare this process to time-consuming phone calls that must be made and re-made until contact happens,” Terry says, “or trying to collect information at the time of the appointment. Simply put, patients do not want to spend time in a waiting room completing paper forms that could have been completed digitally.”

Q3: How is patient pre-registration important to the revenue cycle?

“The traditional registration process isn’t very efficient,” says Terry. “Manual processes can easily lead to inaccurate patient information. If the registration process does not include real-time insurance verification, there will likely be more denials and a slower revenue cycle process.”

“Waiting until the patient’s appointment to collect insurance information doesn’t give providers much time to verify insurance, or to determine the patient’s financial responsibility for copays, deductibles, and out-of-pocket expenses,” Terry continues. “At the same time, patients don’t have time to prepare for their out-of-pocket costs. In the 2024 survey, 94% of providers said they felt a sense of urgency to implement a faster, more comprehensive review of insurance coverage.”

“We know from past surveys that 40% of providers say registration errors are a primary cause of denied claims,” Terry concludes. “When the provider has patient information early, they can start facilitating an estimate and confirm insurance coverage before the appointment. Obtaining patient registration data before the appointment helps to ensure revenue cycle processes flow efficiently to reduce denials and financial risks.”

Q4: Greater efficiency is better for providers, but how does it help patients?

“The State of Patient Access 2024 survey found that patients expect efficiency as well as convenience,” Terry says. “Here’s an example: 85% of the patients surveyed think they shouldn’t have to fill out paperwork if their information hasn’t changed.” Digital pre-registration solutions that allow providers to re-use valid patient information on file simplify registration all around.

“For the patient, spending less time filling out paperwork in the waiting room contributes to a positive experience and improves their overall satisfaction with their provider, in turn leading to increased consumer loyalty,” says Terry. “Instead of managing forms at the appointment, the staff can focus on addressing any questions or discrepancies, and getting the patient settled in for their appointment. For many reasons, going to the doctor can be stressful for patients. Minimizing the forms they need to complete in the waiting room can alleviate some of that pressure.”

Q5: How are providers improving the patient pre-registration process?

“Providers are presenting additional registration options to their patients, including a modernized and digital process,” says Terry. “In the 2024 survey, 65% of providers agreed that patients prefer digital and self-service pre-registration,” so patient-facing mobile solutions like Registration Accelerator are a clear option for providers to explore. “Patients expect an easy digital experience,” Terry continues, “and, in response, providers should make registration as simple and straightforward as possible.”

Yet, the same tools that make pre-registration better for patients can improve the process for providers as well. “Optical character recognition (OCR) is a great example of a feature that creates mutual benefits,” says Terry. “OCR can be leveraged to read insurance cards and pull out relevant and correct information. Staff members are under less pressure to avoid manual errors, and so are patients, who are relieved of the pressure of having to decipher their own insurance cards.

“A registration solution should streamline the workflow, reuse patient information, keep data private and secure, and reduce manual entry,” Terry concludes. “By putting the registration process in the patient’s hands, the provider is gathering information directly from the source while reducing their operational costs. Once registration data is obtained, it should flow into the front-end revenue cycle processes, so that eligibility is validated and errors are highlighted. This helps the provider ensure they have up-to-date insurance information for billing, leading to faster claims processing and reimbursement.”

Q6: What does the future of pre-registration look like?

“As patient expectations and provider demands grow, providers will increasingly turn to digital solutions,” says Terry. “Our survey found that 42% of providers have already expanded digital/mobile patient communications to reduce intake friction, and that trend is likely to continue.”

“Digital solutions like Registration Accelerator give patients the ability to complete the registration process at their convenience and give providers more consistency in gathering information, less manual data entry errors, and opportunities to integrate with other patient access processes. All these benefits provide much-appreciated efficiencies for providers, and can lead to a better healthcare experience for the patient, so they can focus on their appointment and time with their provider.”

Learn more about Registration Accelerator, a patient-facing mobile solution that lets patients scan in their own insurance and identity cards, captures data accurately, and uploads it automatically into Experian Health’s eCare NEXT® platform, simplifying registration for patients and providers.

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