An initiative to standardize, automate and mobilize the patient registration process to improve the patient experience and ensure critical information gets to providers is underway with the goal of conducting and assessing an initial pilot program this year.

The project is called the Virtual Clipboard Initiative, which seeks to use mobile devices to electronically disseminate to providers a mobile or virtual clipboard of demographic and insurance information, as well as important clinical data such as allergies medications and lab results, and also disseminate information to patients’ smartphones.

Organizations leading the effort include the Sullivan Institute for Healthcare Innovation, Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, and the Medical Group Management Association.

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Workgroups staffed with stakeholders from more than 40 provider, payer, vendor and government organizations have been formed to tackle such issues as pilot design and adoption, technical solutions, privacy and security, and measuring success. The workgroups include patient representatives. The focus during this year’s pilot will be on automating collection of insurance and demographic information.

But the program has considerably more ambitious goals. The focus is on capturing data that can be used to auto-populate forms. Initially, insurers could create a mobile app holding eligibility and benefit information that patients could load onto their smartphone, and providers could offer the app through their personal health records software.

With support from hospital administrative systems vendors and physician practice management vendors, a patient could hold a phone in front of a scanner and have information on the app read into the administrative system, just as boarding passes are read at the gate at the airport, says Devin Jopp, president and CEO of WEDI. Pilot testing of this concept started ramping up in early July and will continue throughout 2015.

The program will take a much larger step starting in early 2016 by using insurer or provider mobile apps to integrate clinical record information—with a specific set of clinical data elements to be determined—into patients’ phone. One major benefit of this could be the end of long paper medical history forms that patients fill out over and over. The goal is to put the smartphone in front of a scanner and auto-populate most or all of the form.

Another project on the horizon will tackle electronic payments through mobile phones. More information on the Virtual Clipboard Initiative is available here.

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