Front Desk Kiosks: Should PT Practices Use Them?

Jul 10, 2024 | Blog, Front Desk, Healthcare

With the world’s aging population and the prevalence of chronic diseases and other forms of illness, the demand for healthcare services has seen a steady increase in recent years. Unfortunately, the number of healthcare professionals is failing to meet this demand. In fact, according to the American Hospital Association, it’s estimated that there’ll be a healthcare worker shortage of up to 3.2 million by 2026. These include front desk staff or clinical receptionists.

Often, medical treatments begin at the front desk. After all, before you can have a medical professional help you, you must first approach the clinic’s receptionist and provide the necessary information. Physical therapy practices are no exception to this rule. However, with the steady decrease in healthcare workers, many medical clinics are turning to technology, such as a virtual receptionist service, to make up for one portion of their staffing needs.

As more medical clinics use front desk kiosks to solve staffing problems, another question arises: Should physical therapy practices follow suit?

Should a Physical Therapy Practice Use Front Desk Kiosks?

With staffing shortage being such a prevalent issue nowadays, even for PT practices, the answer to this dilemma becomes clear: virtual assistant kiosks should be utilized now more than ever.

Remember, all PT sessions start at the front desk, which can affect the overall patient experience. However, before you begin using kiosks in your physical therapy clinic, consider learning their benefits and drawbacks first.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Front Desk Kiosks

Like most automation technologies, a virtual receptionist kiosk has benefits and flaws. Learning about these could help you decide if a front desk kiosk is the best move for your physical therapy clinic. The benefits of front desk kiosks include:

  • Cost Savings – One of the main benefits associated with front desk kiosks is cost savings. According to a 2019 study by the Betsy Lehman Center for Patient Safety, 62,000 medical errors in Massachusetts State were responsible for over $617 million in excess healthcare insurance claims. By using technologies such as front desk kiosks, billing and insurance errors caused by manual processes can be avoided. This allows physical therapy practices to save a significant amount.
  • Improved Efficiency – Kiosks for physical therapy practices can also be a great asset in improving the clinic’s overall efficiency. With front desk kiosks, patient information, appointments, and even payments can be processed much faster. As a result, wait times are reduced, and patients can meet with their PT as soon as possible. This is a great advantage for busy physical therapy practices experiencing staffing shortages.
  • Reduced Workloads – Another benefit front desk kiosks bring to a physical therapy clinic is reduced workloads. Burnouts because of significant workloads are one of the reasons why healthcare facilities are experiencing staffing shortages. In fact, according to a survey by JAMA Health Forum, burnout rates in 2021 were as high as 60%. Front desk kiosks can be a great help in combating heavy workloads. As most virtual front desks are automated, patients can do basic steps such as checking themselves in for their appointments. This, in turn, removes another workload from the clinical staff’s shoulders, allowing them to handle other tasks such as processing insurance claims, answering phones, and scheduling appointments.
  • Improved Patient Experience – Finally, front desk kiosks also help improve the patient experience. Remember, if a patient has a negative experience at the front desk, they’ll be less likely to return to your clinic for treatment. With front desk kiosks, this can be avoided by making the check-in process streamlined and more convenient, preventing patients from encountering any possible frustrations that can lead to a negative experience.

Of course, if front desk kiosks come with benefits, it’s only natural for them to have drawbacks of their own. These include:

  • Lacks the Human Touch – At first, the automation provided by front desk kiosks sounds great. However, physical therapy clinics may find that the ease of use offered by such kiosks is limited. This is because, apart from self-check-in capabilities, a virtual front desk doesn’t provide much in the way of automation. In addition to limited automation capabilities, front desk kiosks also impose a learning curve for customers. While this is no problem for tech-savvy adults, the elderly and disabled might have a hard time navigating a kiosk’s interface or understanding instructions on how to use it.
  • Difficulties in Complex Interactions – Another disadvantage of a virtual receptionist kiosk is its difficulty in responding to complex interactions. Most kiosks operate on programming that only covers basic interactions. This means they can’t handle special requests, one-off questions, and even complex scheduling tasks. As a result, patient satisfaction can be reduced, and the patient may even experience frustration when using the front desk kiosks.
  • Downtimes – One final drawback of having a virtual receptionist service for your physical therapy clinic is downtime. Maintenance downtimes are inevitable for technologies such as kiosks, especially if your clinic sees many patients daily. Once downtime occurs, it can cause a delay in patients getting to their appointments. This can result in reduced patient satisfaction, affecting your clinic’s reputation and revenue.

WelcomeWare: The Perfect Mix of Automation and Human Touch

Now that you know both the benefits and drawbacks of front desk kiosks, you might be wondering if you should implement them in your clinic. The answer is yes, and WelcomeWare is the perfect technology to turn to.

WelcomeWare is the perfect mix of automation and human interaction, making it the ideal kiosk for physical therapy clinics. Not only does it allow patients to check in and fill out forms on their own, but a virtual receptionist is also ready to assist them with any questions they may have. By turning to WelcomeWare, the best of both worlds will be available for your physical therapy clinic and patients alike.

Don’t compromise your patient experience

Utilize WelcomeWare to facilitate a check-in experience like no other

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