A new process for online registration dramatically increased the number of patients self-registering at home at York, PA-based WellSpan Health.

“In the past, we had an in-house online registration process that patients accessed from our website,” says Tracey Shetter, CHAM, manager of enterprise patient access, access education, and access call centers.

Now, all patients with a “My WellSpan” account are prompted via email or text to check in for an upcoming service.

“My patient access call center team ensures that the registrations are completed for hospital services,” Shetter explains. Most information automatically interfaces with what the patient enters when checking in. “My team finishes up everything else,” Shetter adds.

Until recently, all patients could register online in this way, except for surgery patients. “We had numerous patients inquiring or complaining about this fact,” Shetter notes. The surgery patients were well aware that other patients checked in electronically. WellSpan decided to provide this option to surgery patients.

Patients are very happy with self-registration overall. However, accuracy sometimes is an issue.

“Patients do not always thoroughly review the information being presented to them on the screen,” Shetter says. Sometimes, patients fail to update their address, phone numbers, or other demographic information. Also, some information is not included with online check in.

Patient access staff ask if patients are veterans, for instance, so they can thank them for their service. “The questions that we ask provide a better patient experience upon their arrival and to keep the fields as minimal as possible for the patient to complete or review,” Shetter says.

Some patient access employees may worry that online registration will mean they are no longer needed. However, the department’s experience has shown this to be unfounded.

“It has not reduced our staffing needs,” Shetter reports. “There are key pieces that still need to be completed by a staff member, even if they are done behind the scenes.”