There’s no denying it: The past few years have been incredibly turbulent for healthcare organizations. The stresses of navigating a worldwide pandemic, dealing with staff shortages, and operating on limited budgets have taken a toll on healthcare providers.
Further adding to the stress? Patient demands are growing. The last few years have created rapid changes across all areas of healthcare, but few things have accelerated as quickly as the need for digital patient experiences. A study by Prophet and GE Healthcare Camden Group found that 81% of patients are dissatisfied with their healthcare experience. Gone are the days when it was acceptable to require people to fill out stacks of paper forms in the waiting room. Patients want fast, easy access to the care they need, from online appointment scheduling and telehealth visits to prescription management and invoicing.
Despite this, healthcare organizations are struggling to deliver digitization fast enough. It’s no surprise, given the challenges faced by the healthcare industry. A digital paradox has arrived—forcing healthcare orgs to deliver innovation with skeleton crews and tight budgets.
Yet organizations like Indiana Health Group, University of Tennessee Medical Center, Coastal Cloud, and InHouse Physicians are doing just that. How? Through the power of automated healthcare workflows. Jonathan explains:
This guide provides real-life examples from these organizations that show how they are improving workflow in healthcare to better address the needs of patients and staff. Get step-by-step guidance for building efficient digital processes that can power all areas of your healthcare organization.
The Power of Healthcare Automation
Before diving in, let's review why it's important to optimize workflow in healthcare through digitization and automation.
When prospective patients want to explore their healthcare options or book an appointment, they expect seamless experiences with rapid responses. The same goes for your current patients when they seek help with a prescription or need a referral. If you require them to fill out lengthy paperwork, manually enter data they've likely provided before, or wait for a response, you create negative experiences that impact patient retention.
And patients aren’t the only ones who expect digital innovation and ease. Providers and staff are just as likely to want digital-first experiences that eliminate paper pushing. Whether they work in intake, HR, intensive care, or finance, employees want to be free from manual work and paper processes.
In fact, our State of Digital Maturity report found that 72% of workers think inefficient processes negatively impact their job. When organizations lack digitization and automation, employees report higher levels of frustration, stress, and dissatisfaction. They end up devoting their time to mindless, repetitive tasks instead of more strategic, fulfilling, and impactful work. How much time exactly? An average of two hours per day, according to our research.
But the negative impacts of manual work don't stop there. Just one employee wasting two hours per day on inefficient tasks costs your organization about $14,560 a year. The average hospital in the U.S. has nearly 1,000 employees, which means this can add up to more than $14.5 million. Is there room in your budget for that labor cost?
The best news is that automating your workflows doesn't require a massive budget, timeline, or IT team. All you need is the right technology and a bit of guidance. That's what this guide is here to provide.
How to Automate Workflow in Healthcare
Every team across your healthcare organization can reap the benefits of automation, from patient intake and billing to HR and facilities. With a tool like Formstack, you can quickly build fully automated healthcare workflows that address the evolving needs of patients and staff.
The Formstack Platform empowers anyone at your organization to achieve more in less time. With digital forms, document generation, and eSignature collection, you can create solutions and automate busywork in one easy-to-use visual workflow builder. From completing daily tasks to creating organization-wide systems and processes, you can build the workflows you need without relying on IT or knowing how to code.
We specialize in helping organizations improve workflow in healthcare and take control of their data management across teams and departments. Here’s how to use Formstack to streamline some of the most common healthcare workflows.
Workflow Tip: You can build seamless, automated Salesforce workflows with Formstack for Salesforce, an all-in-one form, document, and signature solution for your existing ecosystem.
7 Examples of Workflow Automation in Healthcare
You don’t have to waste countless hours each week copying and pasting information, preparing paperwork, searching for files, sending emails, and entering data. By implementing the healthcare workflows below, you can save around 13 hours per week.
What can you do with all that extra time? Focus on impactful work that improves not only your workday but the lives of thousands of patients and staff. Let’s get started.
#1: In-Person & Telehealth Patient Onboarding
Your registration process is one of the first interactions your patients have with your organization. Whether you’re interacting with patients in person or via a telehealth visit, meeting patient expectations with a digital-first onboarding experience is critical to engaging and retaining them. Easily gather the medical history information you need, generate and collect signatures on consent documents, and automate appointment scheduling and communications.
Products: Forms · Documents · Sign
Features: Email Confirmations and Notifications · eSigning Reminders · Field Prefill
Templates: Patient Registration Form · Medical Consent
Optional Integrations: Google Calendar · PayPal · OneDrive
Step 1: Patient Registration
Onboarding new patients is no easy feat. There’s handwriting to decipher, information to enter, and signatures to store. Yet streamlining these procedures is one of the best ways to improve the patient experience and minimize wait times. With a digital patient registration form, you can get new patients added to your database faster and more securely than ever. Set up your form in minutes with a drag-and-drop builder and design tools that make it easy to add your branding.
Workflow Tip: Have multiple forms you’d like your patients to complete at once? Portals can help you bundle new patient forms together in one place.
Step 2: Medical Consent
Don’t ask your patients to provide you with the same information over and over again. Simply have your patient fill out the initial onboarding form and use that data to populate any additional consent or confirmation documents you may need signed, such as patient consent for electronic health information exchange. By pairing Documents and Sign, you can use automated reminders to ensure your patients complete and sign documents quickly.
Step 3: Appointment Scheduling
Use the data you collected during registration to create a prefilled form for appointment scheduling. This form can be connected to apps like Google Calendar so available time slots can be quickly identified. Once a time slot has been claimed by a patient, the appointment will automatically be added to the calendars of staff members that need to attend.
#2: Medical Invoicing
Streamline your back office efforts by creating a single, simplified invoicing process. Securely accept online payments with branded forms, and automatically generate receipts and thank you letters. Give your team more time to focus on patients by automating everything from invoice generation and payment collection to receipt generation and patient follow-up.
Products: Forms · Documents
Features: Secure Online Payments · Automatic Document Generation · Dynamic Document Content
Templates: Blank Invoice Template · Authorization for Automatic Payment Form · Receipt Template
Optional Integrations: PayPal · SharePoint · Salesforce
Step 1: Invoice Generation
When it's time to send out billing statements to your patients, simplify your workflow by generating documents with data housed in the systems you use every day, like Salesforce. Put Formstack Documents to work as your invoice generator and start creating sleek, professional invoices for your patients. Documents offers multiple delivery options so you can quickly share billing statements and automatically save copies in your CRM or cloud-storage app.
Step 2: Payment Collection and Receipt Delivery
Patients can quickly, easily, and securely submit payments to your medical office or hospital system through a mobile-friendly online payment form. Choose from a variety of payment options, and rest assured that billing information is captured safely with PCI compliant forms. Create multiple versions of your standard payment form, or use Smart Lists to manage field options for different providers across multiple forms. After payment is submitted, patients can receive a clear, concise, and personalized receipt straight to their inbox in minutes.
Step 3: Thank You Letter and Follow-Up
Adding personal touchpoints to your workflows is an important way to boost engagement, ensure patients attend follow-up appointments, and ultimately improve outcomes. Automatically customize thank you letters using dynamic content pulled from the data on your payment submission form, and send to patients after they’ve completed their payment. You can even add links to your patient satisfaction survey to encourage more responses. These patient communications can be sent to external storage for your records, or data can be sent to your CRM.
Workflow Tip: Are patients struggling to remember important details after their visit? Add conditional logic to your documents to remind them of upcoming appointments or care instructions.
#3: Patient Referrals
Referrals are an essential part of the patient journey. Yet many referral systems are notoriously inefficient because they use antiquated tools like fax machines that block proper communication and leave patients in limbo. This is bad news if you're a healthcare facility that relies heavily on referrals—and many do since most insurance companies require referrals for specialist treatment to ensure the treatment is correct and necessary. Luckily, there are positive steps you can take to streamline the patient referral process for primary care physicians. This workflow can help you simplify patient referrals and track data in ways you'd never be able to with paper.
Products: Forms · Documents · Sign
Features: Conditional Logic · Dynamic Document Content · Mobile Signing
Templates: Doctor Referral Form · Patient Referral Form · Home Health Referral · Long-Term Care Referral
Optional Integrations: Excel · Airtable · Dropbox
Step 1: Patient Data Collection
With a patient referral form, you can quickly collect the information you need to refer patients to other specialists. Customize the form with Conditional Logic to meet the needs of different patients. For example, when referring a patient to a cancer specialist, you can set your doctor referral form to dynamically ask for the patient's family history of cancer. If you refer to multiple doctors within specialties, you can include each doctor as an option and prefill the form with their information to avoid spending excess time on manual data entry.
Step 2: Medical File Uploads
With a patient referral form, you can upload and share medical files safely and securely. Using one form to transmit all your patient information will help you save time, minimize the possibility of errors, and house important data in one place. Uploading charts and medical history to a referral form is especially helpful if you refer patients to highly specialized doctors or handle complex cases. From genetic tests and lab results to clinical notes and general medical records, all uploaded files can be shared quickly and securely.
Step 3: Referral Letter Automation
Information collected on a patient referral form can be used to quickly populate physician referral letters with details on the patient and the reason for the referral. Use conditional logic to show or hide different sections and quickly tailor a letter to meet the needs of the patient and the physician you're sending the referral to. You can also set up delivery workflows that allow you to route generated documents to different specialists and departments.
Workflow Tip: Add Formstack Sign to the mix to quickly collect signatures for referral documents through email or text.
#4: Patient Feedback
Feedback is an essential part of the patient journey. It can help you connect the dots between expectations and the experience patients have with your organization. But too many healthcare orgs use a poor feedback collection process that makes it difficult for patients to provide their input quickly and effectively. This easy patient feedback workflow can help you improve the patient experience and collect better feedback that you can use to optimize your processes.
Step 1: Patient Feedback Collection
Easily create mobile-optimized patient surveys that can be completed from any device. Use your surveys to collect feedback on everything from treatment outcomes to facility satisfaction. With Saved Fields, you can make form building quicker and ensure all departments are gathering feedback in a similar fashion. If you want to improve submission rates, use Field Prefill to auto-fill personal data like patient names and emails.
Step 2: Response Gathering
You can streamline the patient feedback process by using Portals. Set form due dates, automate email reminders, and track form completions for all patients from one location. Each department can have its own Portal, and patients added to the Portal do not need to have Formstack accounts. After your Portal buildout is complete, you can set it and forget it—emails and reminders will automatically send as the dates approach.
Workflow Tip: You can quickly add patients to a Portal by bulk uploading names and emails with a CSV file.
Step 3: Data Sharing and Storage
Patient feedback gathered over time is easily accessible from one location. Use Data Routing to automatically send survey data to department heads and other staff for review. Data can be analyzed in the backend, exported to Excel, or integrated with tools like Google Sheets for further analysis. Use Advanced PDFs to create official feedback records to upload into cloud storage, or integrate your forms with a variety of tools to send data where it needs to go.
#5: Healthcare Marketing
Healthcare marketers can improve patient acquisition by creating campaigns that generate more interest in what their organization can offer. One way to do this is by including a health or pain assessment on your website. People want quick and easy answers when they’re searching for health information online. An assessment allows them to take inventory of all their symptoms, and it acts as a conversation starter or informal introduction to your hospital or practice. It can also help you gather valuable data on engagement and find opportunities to further improve your marketing and services. Here’s a look at how you can set up an easy pain assessment workflow.
Step 1: Form Optimization
To ensure your campaign is successful, you need to optimize your assessment form for maximum conversions. Enhance your mobile-friendly assessment template by pairing it with the Conversion Kit. Tools like Field Bottlenecks can help you identify problem areas and discover opportunities for improvement.
Step 2: Communication
You can provide custom responses to prospective patients based on the information they’ve entered by setting up personalized notification emails. For example, if a user’s answers indicate a high level of pain, the message can prompt them to contact the clinic for an in-person evaluation. The more customized the answers, the more helpful the visitor will find the tool—and the more likely they’ll be to engage with your office.
Step 3: Data Analysis
After you’ve received a few responses, it’s time to do some data analysis. Easily access an analytics dashboard for your form that lets you view metrics like unique views, conversion rate, and abandonment rate. You can also include your data in custom visual reports and graphs that can be shared with other members of your team. If you want even more data insights, connect your form to Google Analytics for deeper analysis.
Workflow Tip: You can further streamline your marketing efforts by sending assessment data to Salesforce and automating the creation of new leads.
#6: Inventory Requests
Medical supplies require careful management, but it can be difficult to monitor supply inventory and product movement if you don't have good systems in place. You can streamline inventory management by implementing a digital workflow for inventory requests. Here's an example of a process that can eliminate manual data entry and help staff better track supply needs.
Step 1: Request Collection
Kick off your workflow with a mobile-friendly inventory request form. Staff can use this form to quickly make medical supply requests for their departments. You can add fields that include information on the items being requested, including product codes and current quantities.
Workflow Tip: Need an easier way to manage long lists of medical supplies? Use Smart Lists to quickly update fields across multiple forms when supply lists change.
Step 2: Inventory Reviews
After a request is submitted, information on updated quantities can be instantly routed to an Excel sheet or other document that tracks your healthcare organization’s inventory supply. This will help you better monitor changes and ensure supply numbers stay accurate. If you want to update multiple documents at once, use Advanced Data Routing to send submitted information to more than one file.
Step 3: Request Sign-Off
Updated lists can then be sent to the appropriate managers as a PDF so they can quickly review and determine whether or not to approve a request. If approved, they can quickly provide their signature via email or text so next steps can be taken in ordering new supplies.
#7: Personalized Patient Experiences
One huge benefit of digitization is the ability to use patient data to provide personalized experiences. With the power of secure technology, healthcare providers can offer tailored care plans and communications that are appropriate for the patient’s age, health concerns, and diagnosis. Here’s an example of how you could use a patient screening form in Salesforce to collect patient data that can help you create a more custom experience.
Step 1: Form Creation
Quickly create your patient screening form directly in Salesforce via a drag-and-drop builder. Forms for Salesforce connects with Salesforce Health Cloud so you can build forms that align with your data model. If you have pre-existing information on a patient, you can simplify the form experience with Dynamic Prefill. This will prefill the form with the patient’s data so they don’t have to waste time filling out basic details over and over again.
Workflow Tip: Need to make your form a bit more complex? Use grandchild objects to set up more advanced fields and relationships.
Step 2: Data Capture
Embed the screening form on your website or send out a prefilled link via email. The data you collect will be routed directly to Salesforce so the patient’s record remains up-to-date. Use this information to tailor an appointment to the patient’s needs or send them personalized care or program recommendations.
Step 3: Document Generation
The information collected on your screening form can be used to generate custom healthcare documents, such as referrals or updated medical histories. Easily create these documents in Salesforce with the click of a button and deliver them to the patient or to other departments. If signatures need to be collected, use Formstack Sign to deliver documents via email or text for fast eSignature capture.
Start Automating Healthcare Workflows Now
Don’t let inefficient processes burn out your staff and deter prospective patients. By automating workflow in healthcare, you can build repeatable, efficient systems that improve employee morale, meet patient expectations, and save your organization time and money.
Ready to take your workflows to the next level? Our visual workflow builder makes it simple to create, test, and launch any process your organization may need. Get started now with a 14-day free trial or talk with one of our workflow consultants about how to accomplish your goals through workflow automation.