The Ultimate Guide to New Patient Intake Forms

There is nobody better than you who understands how difficult and costly patient acquisition is. But since you’ve successfully brought in a patient through your door, you want to strengthen their faith in their decision of choosing your care by offering a modern and digital onboarding process.

This article acts as an essential guide, covering everything you need to know about building an effective online patient intake form that enables you to streamline your workflow processes and start your patient’s care as soon as possible.

  • What is a patient intake online form?
  • 7 benefits of using online patient intake forms
  • Patient online intake form features: what your form should do for you
  • Online patient intake form requirements: what to include on your form
  • How to optimize your online patient intake forms
  • How to create a new patient intake online form

Let’s get you equipped with the details of digital patient forms and how they can empower your practice to deliver the best patient experience.

What is a patient intake online form?

A patient intake online form is a secure, paperless method for practices to collect and store confidential health data during onboarding. Typically, patient intake forms collect personal information, medical history, and payment details, saving your staff time processing new patients.

While you want to capture as much health information as possible to deliver the best care for your patients, you want to ensure that the onboarding process is not overwhelming. Don’t bog your patients down and instead stick to the main information you need.

Along with reducing the hassle of paperwork for the practice, patient intake online forms streamline your day-to-day operations and contribute to providing your patients with a modern experience. Online intake forms also allow your patients to take their time with filling in their details and lets them do it from the comfort of their home, both of which ease their minds about what to expect when they walk into your clinic.

With the help of HIPAA-compliant form builder tools, practices can very easily create multiple forms that will be required across the patient’s lifecycle.

7 benefits of using online patient intake forms

More and more practices today are making the switch to digital intake forms as they see their value and convenience. Let us explore how they can bring about a positive change in your everyday office administration.

  • Paperless and eco-friendly: Going digital with your patient intake forms is a win-win for everybody. While you save yourself the trouble of maintaining physical files, you are also doing your part to save the environment by eliminating the need to use more paper.
  • Data security: HIPAA-compliant online forms ensure the highest level of security to avoid hefty fines and penalties.
  • Time-saving: Since most healthcare practices experience a bottleneck at the onboarding stage, offering online patient intake forms that patients can fill up from their device that automatically syncs with your practice management system eliminates the need for any data entry.
  • Efficient operations: With digital intake forms, you and your staff have everything in order before the patient walks in, strengthening their first impression of your practice.
  • Receive more accurate data: The probability of receiving completed forms is much higher when you send out online patient intake forms. Having the convenience to fill out the forms from their device gives them a little more time to ponder over their responses as opposed to having to fill in their intake form in the office.
  • Positive patient experience: Since patient experience is more important than ever, offering digital forms and multiple touchpoints to communicate will set a tone for what is to follow.
  • No threat of data loss due to fire/theft: Since all patient data is stored in your practice management system that can be accessed from any device, physical loss due to unforeseen events such as theft, fire, or natural calamities is not a concern.

Learn how you can easily create HIPAA compliant forms with a demo from NexHealth!

Patient online intake form features: what your form should do for you

Making the digital shift to your intake forms is a lot more than just converting your paperwork into an online form. Today you can choose from multiple form builder tools that are aimed at streamlining your intake and patient communication and allowing you to deliver a great experience.

Here are the top features that your digital patient intake form must offer:

1. HIPAA Compliance

HIPAA compliance is one of the most important features of any form that collects patient health information. With security as an apex concern, practices must use online form builder tools that have compliance procedures in place and encryption keys deployed at every level so that their access is limited and controlled to guard against improper disclosure.

2. Support e-Signature

E-sign patient form

Having your patients sign their consent from any device will save you time and standardize the way you collect e-signatures from your patients. E-Signatures look noticeably similar to the traditional ‘ink signatures’ that can be drawn using your finger, stylus, cursor, or can be typed on your keyboard.

3. Convert existing forms to digital

Practices hesitate from moving from a paper-based to a digital system because it seems like a mammoth task to accomplish. But with online form builder tools, your existing forms can be easily made digital without the need for any technical knowledge. This not only eliminates the need for any manual data entry but also stores your data in one centralized location.

4. Ability to embed on your practice website

Irrespective of the platform your website is built on, you want to have full control over how your HIPAA-compliant form is displayed and embedded. This is not only essential to delivering a great experience but will also give your patients a touchpoint to interact with your practice even before they walk in through your door.

5. Seamless, easy integrations

Nexhealth dashboard with patient details

With the goal of streamlining your workflow processes, collecting digital forms is only useful if they sync with your practice management system and all other tools that your practice may be using. This includes CRM tools like Salesforce or Hubspot, databases like AWS, payment gateways like Paypal or Stripe, and email integrations like Mailchimp.

6. Incorporate your branding

As a practice, you want to include your logo and follow your company brand guidelines in all the marketing materials and communications that you send out to your stakeholders. Being able to add your branding to your patient intake form creates a sense of familiarity to the patient who is joining your care.

7. Upload photo and proof of ID

Giving patients the convenience to upload their ID or insurance cards by just clicking a picture saves them the hassle of scanning or physically presenting them during the appointment. Similarly, giving patients the option to click a selfie or upload an existing photo from their device allows you to simply save the image and attach it to the patient’s record.

8. Mobile-friendly

Happy customer on mobile

Your HIPAA compliant forms have to be compatible with phones that have access to the internet. This gives your patients the convenience to fill up and electronically sign intake forms on the go, and in turn leads to a quicker onboarding process.

9. Include a variety of question types

Your patient intake form must be made up of multiple types of questions so that the respondent doesn’t find it tedious or feel overwhelmed. You can include short answer questions, lists that allow them to check the right option(s), and more descriptive questions to get a complete picture of your patient’s health status.

10. Export submissions to PDF or CSV format

Once your patient has submitted their responses, you should be able to export their form to a Microsoft Excel compatible CSV file that allows you to take control of your patient data with a bulk export for external processing. The PDF format lets you view and share your patient data in a clean and user-friendly way.

Online patient intake form requirements: what to include on your form

Just like an agreement between two parties, the patient intake form must state and clearly define all parameters, medical history, and current health conditions for the patient and the healthcare provider to successfully work together. Let us look at the key information that you must collect using your intake form.

1. Personal information and details

As the first section of the form, you must capture all relevant information about your patient that is essential when you need to contact them. Here’s a list of personal questions that you should include in your form:

  1. First Name
  2. Middle Name
  3. Last Name
  4. Sex
  5. Home Phone Number
  6. Mobile Phone Number
  7. Work Phone Number
  8. Address
  9. Email
  10. Preferred method of contact (email, sms, or phone)
  11. Date of Birth

2. Medical history information

Collect medical and dental history information on your forms

Declaring medical history before starting care with your practice will allow you to provide the best diagnosis and treatment for your patient. While you want to obtain as much information as you can about their health, you don’t want to make the form too long, so choose your questions wisely.

  1. Pre-existing health conditions (Check all that apply)
  2. Are any of these conditions hereditary? (If yes, give details)
  3. List of surgeries, if any (Mention the year)
  4. Allergies, if any (Check all that apply)
  5. Are you currently pregnant? (Yes or No; If yes, mention due date)
  6. Are you currently breastfeeding? (Yes or No)
  7. Do you currently smoke? (Yes or No)
  8. How often do you drink? (Never, Rarely, Socially, Regularly)
  9. Do you consume any illicit drugs? (Yes or No; If yes, give details)
  10. Any recent illnesses? (Yes or No; If yes, give details)
  11. Any previous injuries? (Yes or No; If yes, give details)
  12. Past hospitalizations (Yes or No; If yes, give details)

3. Demographics data

Collecting demographic data about your patients can give you insight into any risks that they may be exposed to and to better analyze their results. Always remind patients that certain information is not necessary, and give them an option to avoid answering any of the questions that aren’t necessary for their actual treatment and care.

Here are some questions that you can include in your form:

  1. Age
  2. Marital Status (Single, Married, Separated, Divorced, Widower)
  3. Employment Status (Employed, Unemployed, Part-time/Contractual worker, Self-Employed)
  4. Location

4. Current Medications

Weekly medication

It is important to check with your patients about the list of medications that they are taking before you can define their course of treatment. Here’s how you can ask them to provide this information:

  1. Are you currently taking any prescription medications? (Yes or No; If yes, give details)
  2. Are you currently taking any non-prescription medications?  (Yes or No; If yes, give details)

5. Lifestyle

man with red shoes

Getting insight into the kind of life your patient leads and their activities throughout the day can help you suggest simple tweaks to their lifestyle that can result in positive health outcomes. Check out the list of questions below that you could include in your form:

  1. Do you consider yourself active? (Yes or No)
  2. How often do you exercise? (Once a week, Two to three times a week, Four to five times a week, Daily)
  3. How much exercise do you get in a day? (10 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, more than 1 hour)
  4. What is the nature of your job? (Sedentary or Non-Sedentary)
  5. Do you consider yourself healthy? (Yes or No)
  6. How many glasses of water do you drink in a day? (Mention number)
  7. How many times a week do you eat out? (Mention number)
  8. How many hours of sleep do you get every night? (Mention number)
  9. Do you have any history of mental illness in your family? (Yes or No; if yes, give details)
  10. How stressful is your job? (Extremely stressful, Moderate, Manageable)

6. Payment details

This section primarily allows your patients to declare the insurance information that you will need to charge them for their treatment. Here’s what you can ask:

  1. Do you have insurance? (Yes or No; If yes, give details)
  2. Please upload your insurance card number
  3. How would you like to pay for your treatment? (In full or Installments, give details)
  4. If paying by Credit Card, please provide details

7. Photo and ID proof

Photo ID proof

While the sections mentioned above don’t require your patient to rummage through any documents and can be easily answered by memory, this is where most patients drop off. You can make it easy for them by allowing them to upload a photo from their device or take a photo of themselves or their ID to instantly submit their forms.

8. e-Signature

Finally, once you have collected all the information you need, your patients can sign the form consenting you to hold their data as their healthcare provider. By allowing your patients to e-sign the patient intake form, they are confirming that the information provided is true and closing the intake process loop.

How to optimize your online patient intake forms

Once you transition your paper intake forms to digital, you have to make them work for you. Let us look at how you can get the most out of your online intake forms to get the best value that enables you to run an efficient practice and meet your business goals.

  • Patient data management: Digital HIPAA compliant forms offer your patients the convenience of filling out their paperwork from the comfort of their home on their device. This saves your staff the hassle of dealing with the actual paperwork and replaces it with a modern paperless system of managing patient records.
  • Insurance claims and online payments authorization: Getting your patients’ insurance and payment details during the onboarding process saves them the trouble of carrying their documents every time they come for their visit. Once you have their authorization and payment details on file, you can get them in and out of the office much faster, saving you both a lot of time.
  • Integration with your EHR and practice management system: Once your patients submit their intake forms they should seamlessly flow into your practice management and EHR system to give you full control over their health data. It is important that you can access this data from anywhere and at all times to run an efficient practice and deliver great quality care for your patients.
  • Feedback requests: Once your patients have had their first appointment and you have their contact details on file, you can set up automated follow-ups to ensure that they rebook their next visit. By giving them details about how they can get in touch with you and pointing them in the right direction to find resources about their condition or illness will be highly appreciated.
  • Reminders to complete the intake form: Your patients may get sidetracked with work and other priorities leading to form abandonment. If you haven’t received their intake form within 24 or 48 hours, you can gently nudge them by sending them a reminder to pick up the form from where they left it so that they complete the process.

How to create a new patient intake online form

Now that we’ve discussed the structure of your online patient intake form, let us get down to creating one for you. Following these key points will ensure you make a great first impression with your patients:

1. List the information you need

Begin by identifying all the essential information that you need from new patients that will help you better understand their health status. While this may include a whole lot of information, you can break it up into multiple sections.

2. Choose an appropriate form template

Whether you are digitizing an existing form or choosing a form template, make sure it covers all the information that you listed down in the first step. Reviewing an existing form template can also help you double check any headings or information that you may have missed.

3. Customize the form to match your brand guidelines

Once you’ve got your questionnaire ready, make sure the language used echoes your practice’s voice and you make it your own with your brand colors and logo. Double check with your brand guidelines to avoid any inconsistencies.

4. Add and update all form fields and input options

Since your form will have different question types, add an exhaustive list of options for your patients to choose from. Review the options and make sure you choose the correct form fields.

5. Test the form

Once you’ve created your online form, always send the first copy to yourself or your staff members. This will help you hash out grammatical or typographical errors, technical issues with the link, any missing options, or any lack of clarity in the questions from a new patient’s perspective. Collect all the feedback, make the changes and test it out again.

6. Draft the content that goes out with the message

Once your form link is ready, think about the message that supports the form link. Your message must be direct and create urgency in your new patients to fill out the intake form.

7. Share it with your patients

Now that your form is ready, you can go ahead and share it with your new patients. Choose the most convenient and secure method, like email or text, to send out the form to your patients to ensure quick completion.

Guide your patients through your door with NexHealth!

Delivering a seamless onboarding experience will not only bring in patients smiling through your door but also set a strong foundation for their entire care with your practice. With NexHealth’s two-way integrated HIPAA compliant forms, you eliminate double data entry and reduce your patient’s waiting time in your office.
Digitize your intake forms today by scheduling a demo with NexHealth to have full control over your patient data.

Want to learn more? Book your free demo today!

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