Patients arriving for appointments at Academic Allergy and Asthma Center of South Florida typically received a clipboard full of paperwork to fill out, a repetitive and duplicative practice common at most physician practices.

But this past June, the practice became a beta test site for a new patient engagement platform. Now, when patients arrive, they use a tablet computer to complete registration documents—they do little writing, but complete their work by tapping a finger on the tablet to fill in the blanks.

And the system, developed by ambulatory software vendor CareCloud and card processing and payments solutions vendor First Data, aids practice staff as well, because they no longer spend hours putting together registration packets for patients.

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The practice was concerned that its staff would not easily accept moving to electronic devices, recalls Barbara Arbide, practice manager at the Coral Gables-based practice, but even older employees accepted the change.

Barbara Arbide

Paper registration forms are still available for patients who are uncomfortable with using a tablet, but 90 percent of patients like the paperless process. Arbide said she was particularly surprised to see how many older patients easily adapted to and like the tablet.

Patients using the tablet enter their medications and demographic information, scan a picture ID into the tablet, and read and sign the HIPAA notice, among other information.

Patients also can use their smartphones or another computer device at home to complete registration when making an appointment. “Today, people want to do things on their schedules,” Arbide says. And because staff spend less time shuffling paper documents, it gives them more time to interact with patients during visits, she adds. “It’s really been a very positive development for us.”

The practice is not yet using mobile apps but recognizes the potential of the technology will be considerable, not only for patients but for the financial health of the practice, Arbide notes.

That’s because the CareCloud and First Data platform also supports creation of payment plans and Arbide wants the practice to be fully comfortable with the initial patient engagement project and then move to the payment side. “Patients are getting hit with high deductibles and want to do payment arrangements, and the system can automatically set up a payment plan,” she says.

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