At a time when healthcare providers are being squeezed by the economic realities of shrinking operating budgets and thinner revenues, the good news is that healthcare kiosk technologies have now evolved to offer truly effective solutions with numerous benefits for providers. Given the high operating costs of providing care, kiosks give organizations a variety of powerful tools to save money and improve patient outcomes.
Let’s take a look at the five most-popular ways that self-service kiosks are being deployed to support the healthcare mission.
Healthcare information retrieval and patient check-in
The quickest and easiest savings come from deploying kiosks with a primary function of checking-in patients upon arrival at the location, as well as empowering patients and staff to quickly and securely access patient information on-site.
In traditional reception scenarios, patients arrive for their appointments and besiege receptionists and other front-line staff with questions and requests for assistance in completing the necessary documents. In addition, all too often, patients show up in droves during high-traffic hours, and this requires administrators to over-budget for staff throughout the day simply to ensure adequate coverage during these peak times.
Time is money
In contrast, a well-designed self-service informational kiosk system allows most patients to check in at their own convenience, as well as automatically alerting staff about their arrivals. While a patient completes his or her own intake documents through a convenient touchscreen interface, staff is already preparing to meet that patient’s healthcare needs. And, once a patient completes the electronic check-in process, the kiosk can print out the exact office number and name of the healthcare professional whom they seek, while also showing a way-finding map and instructions on the kiosk’s screen.
Of course, reception staff is able to better focus on assisting those patients who truly need individual attention during check-in. The result is a reduced need for reception staff, faster turnaround time for all check-ins, and happier patients.
Collections are a critical component of any successful healthcare business – good care must be paid for, or the business can’t continue to serve patients. As more employers are offering high-deductible insurance plans in order to manage corporate costs, responsibility for collections of payments and co-payments is an increasing concern for providers.
Kiosks offer ideal solutions for speeding and simplifying the collections process. Accounting staff find kiosks an ideal way to improve collections while keeping patients happy.
Instead of sending a snail-mail bill several weeks after a service has been provided, savvy providers are deploying kiosks with card-readers which enable immediate collections for services rendered. Patients can check in, receive billing, and pay their accounts even while they await their appointments.
Wellness information and healthcare education
Another fast-growing use for kiosks involves dispensing wellness information and providing healthcare education. Often, patients arrive for their appointments on time, yet must then wait to be seen by the appropriate professional. A traditional scenario involves stocking waiting rooms with expensive printed educational literature, which all too often becomes costly litter to be cleaned from the waiting room floor.
Healthcare organizations are discovering the importance of using interactive kiosks to help educate patients regarding their medical conditions and individual needs, while saving valuable time for busy professionals. Most patients’ questions and basic concerns can be answered through kiosks with touchscreens. This provides them with useful information while also helping pass some time while they wait.
As well, kiosks that dispense wellness information are proving to be a big hit both inside healthcare facilities and in retail locations such as drugstores. Healthcare kiosks can perform a range of basic diagnostic services including blood-pressure and temperature checks, weighing, and diabetes screening. Advanced kiosks can perform vision and hearing checks, too.
Patients report increased feelings of satisfaction and comfort when using these self-service diagnostic services, and retail organizations have been quick to leverage such kiosks for sales purposes by offering condition-appropriate marketing messages according to the results of kiosks’ screenings.
Likewise, kiosks are very popular in retail food markets where health-conscious consumers wish to learn the calorie counts, nutritional content or other background information about the foods they purchase. In fact, it seems that anywhere people desire to learn detailed, accurate health information, kiosks can help save money and provide better service overall.
Healthcare staff and visitor access
In today’s security-conscious society, another less well-known application for kiosks is becoming more widespread – the use of kiosks to monitor and control access to medical and nursing facilities.
In traditional scenarios, organizations use personal ID badges to identify staff and frequent visitors such as outside vendors and staff, yet it’s an imperfect system. Of course, it’s very difficult to keep track of one-time or occasional visitors such as patients’ families.
Yet, nowadays kiosks are being used to verify all visitors’ credentials and approve their access to particular locations. For example, visitors may check-in and receive a printed pass authorizing access to some areas of the facility, but not others.
Such kiosks help institutions comply with the strict requirements envisioned under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) by ensuring visitors’ accountability and limiting access to sensitive patient information. Likewise, kiosks can be used to ensure that visitors read and agree to important safety information or non-disclosure rules before being allowed to enter a location.
Kiosks as miniature satellite pharmacies
One of the most interesting applications for healthcare kiosks is their growing role as miniature satellite pharmacies, capable of dispensing a limited number of the most-common medications. This function is a critical time-saver for mainline pharmacy staff, and allows them to focus on serving the needs of patients who require the most attention.
In large pharmacy environments where many patients are waiting to have prescriptions filled for common medications, kiosks can dramatically reduce operating costs of fulfillment. Patients approaching waiting lines are prompted to check for availability of their common prescriptions, and upon swiping their prescription, they may receive a lightning-quick fill.
In summary, kiosks are spreading throughout the healthcare community. They’re finding new uses almost every day in locations ranging from hospitals to retail stores, and they’re certainly a welcome tool for both cost-conscious healthcare administrators and consumer retailers alike.