Ambulatory Care Quarterly

Registration kiosks 'intuitive' for patients

The Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon was an early adopter of registration kiosks, says Jane Gray, CPA, FACHE, FHFMA, assistant vice president for the revenue cycle. When they first were implemented in 2007, she says, other hospitals were skeptical they could work.

"Now, their boards are approving this concept," she says.

The kiosks first were placed in the hospital's Heart Services area, then the diagnostic center, says Gray. "Over time, we deployed it in other locations. We put kiosks in the family practice environment, and most recently, in both the main surgery and ambulatory surgery centers," she says.

The kiosks are not completely self-service, because staff members are available to assist patients with navigating the system, says Gray. "We were still able to realize significant cost savings, since staff members can manage multiple kiosks at one time," she says. "However, our platform was the same one we went live with four years ago and was somewhat outdated."

Patients occasionally complained that the system was difficult to use and wasn't intuitive enough, Gray explains. For example, it included a "yes or no" checkbox that didn't allow users to click inside the "yes" box, and it didn't have a "back" button on every screen, she says. "When you are first starting out with kiosks, you might not think about little things that can make a difference to a patient," says Gray.

An updated version recently was rolled out, and it makes the process much simpler for users, says Gray. "People can perform the registration more independently," she says. "Feedback so far has been just wonderful." Patients complete a brief survey after the registration is complete, so that any problem can be addressed right away, Gray says.

The goal is simplicity

Registration kiosks will be added to other areas of the hospital this year, including the urgent care center and ED, says Gray.

"Our methodology was really to address the high-volume peaks-and-valley locations where we could really get some staff savings," she says. The next step might be enabling patients to register themselves using smart phones, Gray says. "As advanced as health care is in terms of medical technology, we're fairly slow to react to things that have been around in other industries for a long time," she says. "I want to see a registration app. That is where life and technology are going."

Gray says, "To me, it's all about making it simpler for the patient," she says. "In the future, instead of capturing the information on the kiosk, maybe patients will check in on their iPhone as they pull into the parking deck."