When Good Intentions Create Inconveniences

At the restaurant

Yesterday, as I was waiting for my wife and kids to return to our table at the restaurant, I noticed a couple being ushered to their table. The host politely waited for the couple to sit down and immediately after sitting, he handed the menus to the couple.

The menus were handed over opened (like an open book) to the couple as a courtesy. After taking a glance at the menu, both of them closed them, put them down on the table and went for their reading glasses.

I observed other people sitting down at their table and similar behaviors occurred. The host waited for the person to sit down (as if saying, hurry up, I need to hand you these things) so he could hand over the open menus. But the majority of the patrons would only take a glance before closing them and setting them down to adjust their seat, find a place for their purse, check their phone, finish up the conversation, or continue their conversation.

A bit rushed?

It appeared to me that the otherwise nice gesture of handing the menus already opened as soon as they sat down was more of an inconvenience and a bit rushed. Most people hurried to sit down (because the guy was hovering), took the menu, closed it and placed it on the table without even looking at them.

Patrons didn’t complain or appeared to be annoyed. I’m probably making a bigger deal about it than it was. But it made me curios about things we do with the best of intentions but really create an inconvenience.

How about us?

So I thought about our demographic forms that we ask parents to update.  Forms are a pain for our patients. It kind of ruins the experience. But we need them. There is no around it, right?

That doesn’t mean we can’t try to make them a little better by taking into consideration the behavior I observed at the restaurant.

Patient forms

I started thinking, do parents really have to fill out a form for each one of their children? The home address is the same, so is the phone number and the insurance company… why not make a single form for all those things instead of three forms for three siblings?

And what about requiring parents/patients to fill out where to submit claims and telephone numbers for their insurance company? Is it necessary to ask them to do that if you are going to copy or scan the insurance card anyway?

New design

I decided to change a few things on our demographic forms in an effort to simplify, thus trying to make it more convenient for the parents. Take a look and tell me what you think. (Registration09)

Are you creating inconveniences?

Maybe the form you use is fine. Maybe your forms are as lean as they can be. But the point I’m trying to make doesn’t have to do with how I changed the forms. What I’m encouraging you to do is look at your practice’s way of doing things and identify what you can simplify to enhance the experience your patients have when visiting your practice.

Remarkable or average

Fact is, the majority of practices are average. But taking little extra steps for the patients all of a sudden is the little thing that makes your practice different. And sometimes, it is all about the little things.
How about you? What have you done in your practice to enhance your customer’s experience and minimize the inconveniences?

2 thoughts on “When Good Intentions Create Inconveniences”

  1. I encourage folks to have their PM/EHR populate the demographic forms with the existing information and just have parents update any changes. If nothing else, it makes you look less “stupid” – like when you call a customer service department and have to give the same information to three people in a row. Don’t you have my Customer ID yet? Just the little step of saying, “Here’s what we have, let me know if something has changed” distinguishes your practice from nearly all the others.

    BTW, I’m glad to see that you didn’t push any of these kiosk check-in systems that are plaguing our clients right now. I won’t name any of them, but they are borderline scams and I don’t think any of our clients have liked them.

    1. For established patients, we give parents a pre-populated print-out of their demographic. This is something relatively new for us and it has worked out well. The form I posted we use for new patients or patients with a lot of changes to their demographic information.

      With regards to the checking kiosk, I agree. We looked into one, out of curiosity really, and found them to be very EXPENSIVE and counter productive. The Kiosk didn’t even integrate with our EMR or PM systems. So for us, we still had to manually input demo info from the Kiosk to our PM.


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