Blog post

How to Manage Patient Intake Forms in a Modern Dental Office

You only get one chance to make a first impression – are you making a good one? Learn why paperless patient intake is essential for a modern dental office.

Dental Intelligence


September 23, 2021

First impressions matter – especially when you are establishing a relationship with a new patient. Your intake process is the first touchpoint with each patient, and it sets the foundation for the entire patient experience going forward.

Do you have a streamlined system that supports your patients' needs as they are getting started with your practice? If the office staff is still handing out clipboards and printed forms, then it’s time to upgrade your intake.


What’s Wrong with the Old Ways of Paperwork Management?

Printed paperwork is a challenge to manage for a plethora of reasons. Not only does your staff need to keep up with photocopies and filing, but it’s common for papers to get lost in the mess of daily activities. How many times have you found a crumpled up consent form buried between two desks or accidentally stacked in a pile of invoices?

Printed patient forms tend to be more difficult to keep organized, lead to more waste, and slow down daily operations. Outdated intake and filing systems are frustrating for staff members and also inconvenient for patients. Since the patients need to fill out the printed paperwork in person, the old methods don’t allow people to fill out paperwork on their own time. Even if new patient paperwork is mailed ahead of time, the patient risks filling everything out and then forgetting to grab the forms on their way out the door for their appointment.


How Digital Forms Affect Patient Experience

Digital paperwork gives your staff and your patients time back in their day as well as peace of mind. With the option to complete their forms digitally prior to arriving at the office, patients have the flexibility to walk into their first appointment without the tedious step of filling out a mountain of paperwork – instead, they head straight back to the chair.  This helps you move appointments through quickly and efficiently to stay on schedule throughout the day (and maybe even optimize your schedule enough to see more patients each week).

Additionally, digital forms are intuitive to improve the user experience for each patient. For example, refill and smart responses mean that patients don’t need to answer the same questions repeatedly. Existing patients' information will pre-populate with their previous answers so they can simply denote any changes or updates without refilling an entire form.

Digital patient forms are also easier to track and securely backed up in the cloud, helping reduce the chances of lost paperwork. If you've ever had to ask an annoyed patient to refill a form that couldn't be located in their file, you know firsthand how frustrating lost paperwork can be. Dental Intelligence’s digital systems eliminate issues like these that lead to wasted time and poor patient experience.

These digital systems have been especially handy during the pandemic as dental offices are shifting to touchless systems. When patients can fill out the forms on their cell phones or computers, it eliminates the need to pass pens and clipboards back and forth. Digital forms are more sanitary and practical, helping reduce potential exposure for both patients and staff members.

dentist presents a digital consent to a patient before their procedure


Benefits of Using Digital Forms

Here are just a few of the reasons why every dental office should be using digital patient forms:

Less Waste 

Get rid of the overflowing recycle bin, shredded papers, and filing cabinets. Digital forms reduce the amount of paper you are using in the office, not to mention the physical space needed to house filing cabinets full of paper charts. Going paperless saves you the hassle of dealing with wasteful practices, and the cost savings of drastically reducing paper usage add up quickly.

More Organization 

One notable benefit is how DI's digital forms integrate with your Patient Management System (PMS) directly. This automatic entry eliminates the need to transcribe information into patient charts manually. Your PMS updates instantly when the patient clicks “submit.” Avoid the hassle of lost paperwork, document scanning, and data entry.

Better Patient Flow

How often do patients fail to show up 15-30 minutes early to fill out paperwork? Even small delays can have a domino effect on your schedule. Sending digital forms ahead of time allows people to complete the paperwork in the comfort of their own home and at their convenience. This also gives them ample time to locate any information they need to complete their forms, so they aren't scrambling for their insurance card in the lobby while the hygienist is ready to take them back for their cleaning.

Dynamic and Conditional Fields

Online forms are intuitive, so patients aren’t answering questions that don’t apply to them. For example, if someone marks “male” in the health history section, the form won’t include questions about possible pregnancies. Or, if they indicate a heart condition, additional questions will serve based on that answer. The result is an individualized form that suits the needs of each patient and better informs your care, while saving them the time and frustration of completing sections that don't apply to them. 

Improved Compliance

Maintaining compliance is critical to protect patient privacy and reduce the likelihood of your office facing hefty fines. It’s easy for compliance details to fall through the cracks with manual processes. Digital forms are HIPAA compliant and are adjusted accordingly as new patient privacy regulations come about.


How are Digital Forms Managed in Dental Intelligence?

At Dental Intelligence, we are proactive about providing optimal solutions for digital form management. When you use our paperless forms, you can completely customize all aspects of your paperwork to meet the needs of your specific practice. These are some of the features that make DI stand out in the industry:

Types of Forms

There is a lot of flexibility in the types of forms you can manage through DI. Our standard library includes most common forms, such as contact information, new patient paperwork, health history, dental insurance forms, COVID-19 questionnaires, an extensive library of consents, and much more. If you want to take your patient experience to the next level, consider utilizing a treatment questionnaire or a comfort menu form to record patient preferences, such as a pillow to support their back or the type of music they prefer. 

Forms Automation

Our paperless forms offer a variety of set-it-and-forget-it automation solutions. For example, DI gives you a simple check-box list to choose the forms you would like to include in each new patient packet. Then, the system automatically sends the required documents with a save-the-date message when a new patient schedules an appointment. You can even set a frequency for required updates of each form type from existing patients. Upon scheduling an appointment, DI verifies if they are a new or returning patient and automatically sends out any necessary paperwork based on the last time they completed forms.

Compliance Safeguards

It doesn’t matter if patients are filling forms on their phone or a kiosk set up in your office; our secure digital form system helps you stay HIPAA compliant and prioritizes  patient privacy and security.

dentist counter-signs a patient consent on their tablet

Is There a Learning Curve to Use Paperless Forms?

The good news is that there is a minimal learning curve when you start using digital patient intake forms. DI offers a user-friendly platform so you can go paperless without worrying about complicated computer systems. In addition, you'll receive complementary training for you staff on how to utilize the system.

Still on the fence about going digital? Our comprehensive patient engagement platform comes with an award-winning customer support team to help you navigate any potential issues that might arise. If something isn’t going the way you’d expect, you have access to a team of real people answering your questions in real-time through live chat. Typical response time is less than five minutes, giving you full access to a quick and accessible person when you are looking for answers to your questions.

Whether you need a quick tutorial on using a feature or you would like assistance working through an issue, we’re always here to help. Our team at DI provides quality, trusted digital systems so you can stop worrying about the day-to-day management of the office. Instead, focus your efforts on providing exceptional dental care for each patient and running a profitable practice. 


What to Expect: Paperless Solutions for Your Dental Office

Support the growth of your business by shifting to paperless solutions in your dental practice. Going paperless gives you a faster patient turnaround time, which means you can potentially see more patients and stay on schedule throughout the day. At the same time, you are providing a better patient experience that will increase patient loyalty and help you earn more referrals.

Having a paperless system reduces busy work for your office staff and streamlines daily operations, saving hours every week. Instead, staff members can focus their workflows on higher-value activities to strengthen patient relationships, like marketing, lead generation, or social media engagement. These factors are crucial to business growth but often fall through the cracks when office members don’t have enough time in the day to keep up with ongoing tasks.

The overall result of going paperless is higher patient satisfaction. When patients love their experience, they are going to keep coming back and refer to their friends. It’s a win-win situation to support your patient’s needs and help your business grow at the same time.

Practice Smarter.™

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