Things to Consider About Healthcare Kiosks
If you own a healthcare practice and want to know how you can run your front desk operations efficiently, you may have considered using health kiosk machines as an option. While they’re a convenient front desk solution, adopting healthcare kiosks for your practice has benefits and drawbacks that can make or break your front desk experience.
Before making the switch, here are some things to consider about healthcare kiosks:
Patient check-in experience
With medical receptionists, the patient check-in experience is usually both structured and fluid. Patients enter the clinic with certain expectations, but the flow of the interaction may depend on various factors like:
- Specific needs of the patient
- Volume of patients
- Other factors that may affect the mood of the patient
The outcome of the interaction can also vary. Generally, the receptionist will simply facilitate the patient’s check in for their appointment. However, this can change with situations such as difficult patients, patients with numerous questions, or upselling opportunities.
In contrast, healthcare kiosks provide a straightforward check-in experience. While different brands of kiosks vary in flexibility, they generally have the same primary functions:
- Facilitate the check-in and check-out process
- Provide instructions on the next steps of the check-in process
- Answer basic questions
Thus, healthcare kiosks usually have linear interactions with patients, which may appeal to you if you want to streamline your check-in process.
However, it may be possible that the majority of your patients are more familiar or receptive towards receptionists. Even though touchscreen technology has become ubiquitous, some patients may still prefer interacting with a receptionist during their check-in process.
A notable disadvantage of healthcare kiosks is that they always involve a learning curve for patients. Patients who are young or technologically inclined may require little time to learn how to use a kiosk. However, patients who are elderly, disabled, or unfamiliar with kiosks may find interacting with them challenging and can end up frustrated.
Thus, you should assess if your patients would be open to interacting with kiosks before using them for your front desk operations.
Solving the utilization problem
One of the most common issues with traditional front desk management is underutilization. The productivity of your receptionists greatly depends on how busy the practice is. High productivity is essential to maximizing the value of your receptionists. Thus, if your clinic receives a low volume of patients frequently, your receptionists become underproductive and bring less value. This becomes especially problematic when you handle multiple clinics.
On the other hand, you only need to install one or two kiosks in each clinic. These kiosks will run your front desk operations efficiently, even when you face little to no traffic. However, keep in mind that healthcare kiosks rely on electricity to work. In the event of a power outage, your kiosks may stop running, which can disable the front desk operation entirely.
Updates and maintenance schedules should also be considered, as these require taking your kiosks out of commission for some time.
If you can manage power outages or regular maintenance, then healthcare kiosks may still be a viable option for you.
Convenience versus versatility
There are several qualifications you need to look for when hiring medical receptionists:
- Knowledge of HIPAA regulations
- Experience in EMR system management
- Familiarity with preferred scheduling of providers
Add training, supervision, and feedback, and receptionists seem like a hassle to manage. Conversely, healthcare kiosks require no training and supervision after you install them. Plus, kiosks may perform more consistently than receptionists, who can get tired during work.
Healthcare kiosks may seem convenient for their easy preparation. However, kiosks are only as good as their programming and features and can have shortcomings like being:
- Limited to basic queries
- Unable to answer complex questions
- Unable to identify upselling opportunities
Kiosks may also require regular maintenance and updates, which can take time and money. Overall, while you reduce HR hassles and enjoy the convenience of use, you must also consider the limitations and challenges of using kiosks.
The human touch
One of the largest compromises of self-service kiosks is the lack of the human touch. While some patients may prefer interacting with kiosks, kiosks generally fall short of the warmth that receptionists can provide.
This is apparent with difficult or frustrated patients who may require the utmost attention to their needs to calm them down. Otherwise, your providers may have a hard time interacting and administering care to your patients. This can lead to lower patient satisfaction and retention.
Healthcare kiosks can only do so much to ease a patient’s grievances. On the other hand, the limitations of how kiosks address patient concerns may aggravate them even further. You can modify your kiosks to be more visually appealing or respond to patients in an uplifting manner. However, you’ll eventually reach a hard limit of a kiosk’s capabilities to provide the similar warmth that receptionists can give.
Should you use healthcare kiosks?
Using healthcare kiosks can have numerous ups and downs in facilitating the patient check-in experience. In the end, your specific use case will determine the weight of the possible benefits against the drawbacks.
Here are some questions to guide your decision:
- Are your patients more comfortable interacting with a receptionist than with an automated kiosk?
- Do you often face difficult patients who may require focused attention to their needs?
- Would your providers benefit from your patients being calmed down before an appointment?
- Do you want to achieve upselling opportunities?
While healthcare kiosks may develop to become more effective, pleasant, and profitable, receptionists are generally more flexible, versatile, and successful in delivering a warm patient check-in experience. If you want the best of both worlds, consider a virtual receptionist platform like WelcomeWare, which turns your front desk virtual, allowing it to be remotely operated by receptionists.
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