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How to Improve Patient Data Collection

Young female patient answering questions asked by provider

Patient intake forms are a pain. The common workflow goes: patient arrives -> checks in -> receives forms -> fills out forms -> sees doctor. This process usually takes patients anywhere from five to fifteen minutes. Tack on the fact that patients often arrive late to their appointments, and you can quickly be running massively behind schedule. 

Providers have found many solutions to this problem, like mail-in forms or telehealth intake calls. One of the most popular solutions is to set up online forms. Applications such as REDCap allow for HIPAA-compliant data collection online. Patients can save time for providers and themselves by filling out their intake information ahead of time.

However, all of these solutions come with their own unique problems. The telehealth intake calls are time consuming for providers. Mail-in forms rely on physical delivery. And prior research has show that patients don’t engage well with online forms. So we had to ask, “Is there a better way to collect patient data?” 

Dr. Hiral Soni of Research conducted a study comparing online intake forms with the service Dokbot, a HIPAA-compliant chatbot designed for healthcare data collection. This article will focus on the research results, but if you want the full scope of the research, please watch the YouTube video here.

Online forms vs. chatbots

An experiment with 206 participants compared the experiences of completing a healthcare assessment between Dokbot and REDCap. Dokbot was preferred by 69.9% of the participants.

Why users preferred Dokbot over online forms

Dokbot scored higher than online forms in two major categories: system usability score (SUS) and net promoter score (NPS). These scores indicate that Dokbot felt easier to use and that participants would be willing to use it again in the future. Comments from participants indicated that they preferred the Dokbot interface and its intuitive design, which kept them engaged throughout the healthcare assessment process.

These results are somewhat remarkable, considering the online forms received favorable comments thanks to the recognizable interface. Even though participants were more familiar with the online forms, they preferred Dokbot’s design. One participant said, “I did like the way it was designed and had the feeling that I was talking to a human.”

The NPS is a common score that indicates customer experiences based on whether or not they’d recommend a service. Dokbot significantly outperformed the online forms in this category, with scores of 24 and 13, respectively.

What participants liked about online forms

Online forms performed better in one area: task completion time. On average, participants completed the healthcare assessment about 90 seconds faster using online forms than Dokbot. Some participants left positive comments about the familiar layout of the online forms as well, though the majority still preferred the chatbot.

How chatbots for healthcare data intake will improve

The concerns to address and improve upon:

Speed. Many studies have found that chatbots take longer to complete than online forms. But does it matter? Despite Dokbot taking 90 seconds longer to complete, it was still preferred by nearly 70% of participants. Only 10% of participants reported that Dokbot was too time consuming. Furthermore, faster speeds can also lead to careless data entries, so a more deliberate process may provide higher quality data. Regardless, the results indicate that completion time is not a deterrent factor if engagement and overall satisfaction score highly.

Security. Six participants (of the 206 surveyed) reported perceived security issues with Dokbot. Based on the responses, this problem seemed to come from the perceived friendly nature of the chatbot asking personal questions like “What is your home address?” However, Dokbot is already HIPAA compliant and secure. These feelings of insecurity seem to derive from unfamiliarity with the service: after all, why would a patient ever distrust the “home address” field on a form? But, to alleviate these concerns, Dokbot is fully customizable. Providers can put their own branding into the chatbot questionnaire, ensuring patients that their information is secure.

If you’re interested in changing your practice’s patient intake or data collection, consider trying Dokbot. It provides many services beyond patient data intake, and can solve your HIPAA-compliant healthcare data collection needs.