Practices should use online client forms

Practices should use online client forms

This manager says clients and team members appreciate the efficiency of online forms.
Feb 02, 2010

This is the life of a veterinary technician: As the clock strikes 9 a.m., appointments are off and running. You cringe at the intercom page announcing the arrival of the first client of the day—not counting all those drop-offs that have been streaming in since 8 a.m. You’re in a mad rush to complete your hospitalized patient treatments. You’ve started administering medications and running the morning’s lab work. The receptionist is juggling phone calls in between food sales and boarder check-outs, so she pops her head into the treatment area to ask if you wouldn’t mind registering the current appointment because the client is new.

Obtaining accurate client information is important to every aspect of the practice. And without previously completed online forms, the front-desk team is left handing clients clipboards, pens, and registration forms and asking them to return the forms to the desk as soon as possible. All this while their 85-pound dogs bounce around the lobby.

Stress between front-desk and back-room team members can start with the need for new clients to complete registration forms. Each team member has a valid point for not being able to assist the client in this registration process. Our practice’s solution is online registration.

With the help of our Web site provider, we created a simple digital registration form that mirrored the same piece of paper we asked clients to fill out in the clinic. What’s more, asking new clients to complete forms online before an appointment gives our front-desk and exam-room team members the chance to climb out from behind their paperwork and bond with clients. Our receptionists shake hands and paws and listen compassionately to clients about the reason for their visits that day.

Information from our online forms gets automatically e-mailed to our office account. Team members copy and paste the information into our computer during slower times. This reduces registration errors because clients are less likely to enter information incorrectly. We also program our online forms to request or require specific information. For example, if a client enters a post office box, the form then requires a physical street address, which becomes extremely important if checks are returned. Our forms also request the names of referring clients so we know if we need to thank someone.

Before online forms, other team members and I used to painstakingly verify this information by manually checking forms and writing notes in the records.

Using online registration gives us the chance to regain the precious commodity of time. We kept this momentum going and offered online boarding reservations (including pet instructions while boarding) and medical drop-off histories. We get more detailed history and instructions, and our clients are served in a more timely fashion, especially when they’re in a rush to get to their offices or catch a plane.

Gina Toman, RVT, is practice manager at Seaside Animal Care in Calabash, N.C., and a Firstline Editorial Advisory Board member.

No, you shouldn’t ask clients to complete forms online.

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