Better organization and even the use of automation are great benefits to going paperless with your intake forms and other records
The chiropractic industry is obligated to follow the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) like all other health care organizations, keeping and protecting a patient’s private health information. The first step in this is to have patients fill out a chiropractic intake form. But how you handle these forms, digitally or on paper, is equally important.
“There’s a common misconception that creating a ‘paperless office’ means an outright ban on paper, but that’s not the case,” said Jesse Wood, CEO of eFileCabinet. “There’s always going to be paper. It simply means accepting that physical documents aren’t the only means of getting work done and that digital documents are just as legitimate. It’s about embracing a new way of working.”
Intake forms and patient compliance
Like many medical services, intake forms for chiropractic practices create a patient record, allowing the chiropractor to have a summary of their new patient’s basic information, relevant medical history, and insurance information.
These forms can be completed by new patients either at the office on a physical document or online and submitted as a digital record. They’re then added to the patient’s complete record along with SOAP notes and examination results.
Chiropractic intake forms are essential for several reasons. They need to have accurate and comprehensive information about the patient so the chiropractor can understand their health needs and be able to provide the best treatment possible.
If you’re a professional you rely on your notes to serve the best quality care to your patients. Intake notes are especially essential for taking care of regular patients. You can’t always rely on your memory — you need detailed notes and charts about your patients so when they come in you already know everything about them, the details of their pain, and what you discussed during their last visit.
Secondly, intake forms need to require accurate insurance information. Chiropractic care is considered complementary or alternative medicine to many insurance companies that may treat coverage for treatment differently. Having comprehensive and accurate insurance information is essential for chiropractic practices to be properly reimbursed by insurance entities that may not provide full compensation if there is anything missing or inaccurate in the office’s claim.
Intake forms are protected health information (PHI), which is essential for keeping compliant with HIPAA and must be secured and kept private.
Managing chiropractic intake forms: encryption and privacy
When patient satisfaction and retention is a priority, you want to make everything as simple and convenient as possible. That’s why creating chiropractic intake forms that are available online, at a patient’s own convenience before they arrive for their first appointment, is a great way to show you care about their time. Rather than patients having to sit in the lobby filling out a form on a clipboard, they can just submit it to you the night before.
But like all PHI, it needs to be secured when transferring online in the interest of cybersecurity and compliance with HIPAA. Rather than sending and receiving as an email attachment, you need to use a platform that utilizes some form of encryption, so your patient’s private health data isn’t vulnerable. Encryption-backed file-sharing services are the preferred method of sharing PHI with patients. You’ll need a system that is simple for your patients to interact with, so there are no complications and they can send over their intake form.
Signatures are another aspect of forms you can do digitally, but these also must be protected with encryption.
Better automation and organization
Compliance isn’t the only advantage to digital. Better organization and even the use of automation are great benefits to going paperless with your records. You’ll be able to pull them up faster on a computer and not have to spend several minutes looking for them in a filing cabinet.
Having your notes accessible at a moment’s notice will allow you to better serve patients as they visit. After meeting with a patient, you need to organize your notes, but it can take time. More time on filing your paperwork means less time with other patients and maintaining your practice. By injecting digital automation into your workflow, it’s possible to significantly cut your filing time.
“The one thing we try to convey to customers and prospects alike is that moving to a digital environment gives them the unique opportunity to revolutionize their everyday work processes,” Wood said. “Many times a business’s growth can plateau, and among the many reasons this can happen, is due to bloating overhead and a lack of client retention. Examining some of your everyday processes, even the most common and mundane back-office tasks, and seeing where you can make improvements is how you lower overhead and continue growing.”
It’s important that you find solutions that are right for you and your practice, but you definitely need something that’s reliable, easily accessible, affordable, and can help you be HIPAA compliant.
Andreas Rivera is a technology writer with experience in both reviewing and marketing tech services and products. His areas of expertise include writing about B2B, SaaS companies and how they best address the pain points of businesses. Since early 2019, he has been the marketing content writer for eFileCabinet and has become well versed in how document management software helps businesses reinvent their manual processes and spur growth.