Signing in on paper may soon be history in medical facilities as electronic kiosks similar to those at the bank or airport take over the job usually done by an army of registration clerks.
We've seen self-service kiosks become ubiquitous at banks
and at airports. Now they're reaching the waiting room of doctor's offices.
CTS (Connected Technology
Solutions), which makes the Patient PassPort Express kiosk, reports that it
has achieved 5 million patient check-ins on its machines from 2007 to 2010. The
company began pilot use in 2006 and started full deployment in 2008.
Patient PassPort Express allows patients to check in without going
through the typical registration process, which usually starts by
signing their names on a clipboard and working with a registration
clerk to fill
out paperwork before meeting with a medical professional.
Using the kiosks, patients can update medical histories, use an
electronic signature pad to sign documents and make credit card
"The kiosk is a much more dependable collector of copays," Sandy
president and CEO of CTS, told eWEEK. With Patient PassPort Express,
clinics can also verify that insurance information is up to date and
remind patients of
Depending on the size of the facility, CTS deploys anywhere from 10
to 100 units per location. The units are geared toward large clinic
From hospitals' EHRs (electronic health records), the kiosk can
retrieve data such as name, address and date of birth to display
The unit doesn't store the information it retrieves from the EHR,
however. The kiosk deletes a patient's personal information at the end
a transaction, "There's absolutely no information stored on the kiosk
itself," Nix said.
Patients can print HIPAA forms and other documentation.
"The printer is contained within the kiosk to keep the transaction private," Nix said.
Customized for clients' brands, the kiosks also serve the retail,
hospitality and transportation industries in addition to health care.
CTS offers floor, wall and desktop kiosks depending on a customer's needs and will introduce an additional kiosk design at the HIMSS11
health care IT conference in
Orlando, Fla., in February that will be able to meet ADA (Americans
With Disabilities Act) guideline updates. The new unit will also
feature wheelchair compatibility
and features for the visually impaired.
Meanwhile, another self-service check-in vendor, Phreesia, makes the tablet-size WiFi PhreesiaPad
that it calls the "iPad of the doctor's office."
The PhreesiaPad allows medical practices to verify insurance information, take patient copays and provide balance information.
On Dec. 1, Phreesia announced it would incorporate global
payments provider Elavon's payment-processing infrastructure.
Phreesia chose a tablet size rather than a larger floor-standing
unit to save costs and room for medical facilities, according to
CEO Chaim Indig. "The average doctor's office can't afford them and
doesn't have the room for them," Indig told eWEEK.
"We really early on didn't want big, bulky standing machines," he said. "They're also impossible to service. If something
goes wrong, we have to send someone on-site." When a unit needs fixing, it just gets shipped back to Phreesia.
Phreesia aims to keep patients busy while waiting for their appointments, Indig said.
"Our belief is the only way that health care in America
is going to take great leaps in efficiency is to use the greatest resource
that's untapped-that is the patient. Rather than waiting two hours in the
waiting room, they should be handling their own copays," Indig said.
Phreesia programs the device to ask a patient questions that pertain
to the type of practice. "A pediatrician might ask different
questions for your kids than a gastroenterologist might ask," he
Like the CTS unit, the PhreesiaPad draws patient data from EHRs,
such as insurance info, address, family history, vaccination history,
last visit to the hospital and medications. The tablet connects to EHR
practice-management databases using the HL7
(Health Level 7) standard, according to Indig.
Unlike the CTS model, the Phreesia check-in units incorporate targeted advertising, though 93 percent of patients do opt in for
these promotional messages, Indig noted.
The ads are related to patients' conditions, such as ways to treat
gout or high cholesterol, he said. "We deliver targeted health
messages; we don't think of them as ads," Indig explained.
Brian T. Horowitz is a freelance technology and health writer as well as a copy editor. Brian has worked on the tech beat since 1996 and covered health care IT and rugged mobile computing for eWEEK since 2010. He has contributed to more than 20 publications, including Computer Shopper, Fast Company, FOXNews.com, More, NYSE Magazine, Parents, ScientificAmerican.com, USA Weekend and Womansday.com, as well as other consumer and trade publications. Brian holds a B.A. from Hofstra University in New York.