Faux Online Forms

When you hear about “online forms” what do you normally think of? If you’re like most dentists today you say to yourself “I have those on my website”.

But unfortunately, the truth is you most likely only have downloadable PDF forms.

What’s the difference?

As the Internet became a major tool in communication between dentist offices and their patients, dentists naturally began to make websites for their practices. This innovation lets patients view information about their office without having to call them on the phone. Eventually this paved the way for the requesting of appointments online and streamlining the scheduling process.

The next step is obvious: if a patient makes an appointment with your office, you need to get a patient history with pertinent information for their care and insurance and billing purposes. So offices began to use the best tool around at the time, PDF forms, to streamline this process as well. Patients could download, print, hand-write their answers, and bring in the completed information at the appointment time. This transfers time in the waiting room to time spent at home.

But as technology became more robust, it became clear that this use of PDFs is a half-measure, a partial-innovation. These PDF forms masquerading as “online patient registration” actually obscure the real possibilities in collecting patient information online before the appointment. PDF forms that are downloaded and printed by patients still pose many of the same problems for the office:

  • Difficult to read handwriting
  • Excess paper to shred and dispose of
  • Transferring/typing the information into a digital system
  • Patients still having to remain in the waiting room while the information is assimilated and the insurance verified
  • And most counter-intuitive, you only have exactly what the patient has told you.

Let me explain the last problem. The information gathered on a paper form, filled out at home or in the office, is full of one-dimensional static information. This is good, but it is not good enough. Ideally we would interview each patient, and have a dialogue about the issues they have and penetrate to the most clinically relevant details about medical conditions, pharmacology, and dental history and expectations etc. But we do not often have time to deeply assess the medical conditions to determine if standard procedures should be modified.

It’s good to know the patient has diabetes, but it’s much better to know that it’s moderately well managed type-1 insulin-dependent diabetes that began as a child, and they experienced a hypoglycemic episode at their last dental appointment that was handled by a glucagon drink. But even beyond that, what would be most helpful is to be presented information about how this condition specifically affects your dental treatment.

PDF forms can never provide this sort of depth and quality of information. In fact they don’t solve problems, but just move them around. True online patient registration, that is innovative and modern, interviews your patients online and gets you the information digitally. And it automatically digs deeper into the health history to provide you the pertinent information that can affect your treatment decisions.

Remember, online patient registration that truly enables your practice should have these two components: online submission of information and pre-clinical analysis of the health history.

Don’t be fooled by the last century’s version of online patient forms.


Click here to schedule a LIVE online demo to see if we are  fit for your office!

Dental Symphony offers ePatient: the only HIPAA compliant Online Patient Registration System with the exclusive “Pre-Clinical Analysis” tool.

ePatient was created by Dentists for Dentists and is easily adaptable for any type of practice with free customization.

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