When the urgent care clinic, part of a larger chain of nation-wide clinics, pivoted to curbside registration, it faced twin challenges of maintaining social distancing and trying to keep their workflow as low-contact as possible. Exterior signage directed patients to remain in the parking lot and call to check in. At the same time, patient volume increased (often due to COVID-related visits), overwhelming staff with the skyrocketing inbound call volume. These factors lengthened the check-in process. During certain times of the day, patients could not even get through to reach staff on the phone, which negatively impacted the patients’ experience.
Implementing ER Express’ curbside check-in and digital intake solutions immediately changed the patient-facing workflow. Parking lot signage directed patients to initiate the check-in process by texting a keyword to a short code instead of instructing patients to call. The system automatically placed patients in a virtual queue and automatically populated demographic information, visit reason, driver’s license and insurance cards into the practice management system.
Patients using the mobile process had an average throughput time 32% shorter than patients who used the call-in-based registration process. Because these patients may have had other factors (such as acuity) that caused them to have a longer visit, we also compared the data to a sister urgent care clinic (location B) under the same ownership and similar patient population that did not use the mobile check-in process. Mobile check-in patients from the participating clinic (location A) still had a 29% shorter throughput time.
Curbside mobile check-in created a more efficient self-service process. About 75% of the patients completed the process without staff assistance, while 25% registered by phone call or in-person based on patient-specific circumstances.*
Notably, as patient volume increased, the difference in throughput time between patients who did and did not use mobile check-in-widened.
During the measurement period, patients who used the mobile check-in process expressed higher satisfaction levels with the overall registration process compared with patients who did not.
*The most common reasons include acuity (patient was too ill to do it themselves) and age/discomfort with technology.