Checking in just got easier

Exploring the increased interest in self sign-in technologies in healthcare facilities

Self sign-in technology is already used widely used in other industries, with digital check-in screens a common site in airports worldwide, but healthcare organisations are increasingly recognising the benefits for patients and staff

We’ve all been there. You turn up in good time for your GP or hospital appointment and then spend an age queuing while the receptionist deals with telephone calls, prescription requests and the like. By the time you’ve made your presence known your allotted slot has often been and gone, causing lengthy delays.

Despite being shown to cut queues in outpatient departments and release time for direct patient care, there is an untapped demand for this technology

Over the past few years, as practices and hospital trusts strive to make back office efficiencies, this is one problem that is being solved through the introduction of new technology.

Self sign-in solutions are increasingly being adopted to enable patients to record their arrival digitally in just a few seconds, freeing up reception staff for more pressing tasks.

Self check-in kiosks have been installed at Western General Hospital and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh as part of a pilot Martin Egan, director of e-Health at NHS Lothian

The automated touch-screen systems not only help to cut down on queues and the associated frustrations, but they can also be programmed to inform people about waiting times and they protect patient data as names, addresses and other identifying information is not overheard. In addition, to meet the needs of an increasingly-diverse population, text can be made multi-lingual.

Costing around £3,000 for initial set-up, and with maintenance charges of around £400 a year, the technology is much cheaper than employing extra reception staff, and is largely welcomed by patients.

St Lawrence surgery in Worthing, West Sussex, is one of those to embrace the solution. It serves 12,000 patients and has received feedback about long check-in times. This meant late arrivals and registrations and had a negative impact on GP and nurse running times and appointment schedules.

Funded through a grant from the then primary care trust, the surgery implemented self sign-in screens. Patients were still given a choice to speak directly to a receptionist, but digital technology was also made available, being fully integrated into the existing computer software.

Benefits since deployment have included improved access for patients, no complaints about queuing, appointments running to time, and better patient confidentiality.

Self check-in kiosks were also installed at Western General Hospital and the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in Scotland as part of a pilot.

Martin Egan, director of e-Health at NHS Lothian, said: “These kiosks will help provide a more streamlined, efficient service for patients.”

And Jayex’s Enlighten technology is in use at the Queen Victoria Hospital in West Sussex. The result has been shorter check-in times, improved clinical flow, improved accuracy of demographic data, and an improvement in patient information.

Keeping people informed is shown to create a more relaxed atmosphere, allowing staff to focus on direct patient care, and the technology helps streamline processes and shapes the patient pathway, saving time and money

Jane Morris, the hospital’s directorate manager, said: “This system has allowed us to completely redesign the patient flow through our clinics.”

Demand is growing to such a degree within the medical sector that earlier this year Aura Healthcare agreed a partnership with Savience for its range of automated self-service kiosks.

“Despite being shown to cut queues in outpatient departments and release time for direct patient care, there is an untapped demand for this technology,” said Aura Healthcare’s chief executive, Adrian Stevens.

“Automating the patient check-in process with self-service kiosks and call-out screens creates a much better experience for patients, doctors, nurses and receptionists. Keeping people informed is shown to create a more relaxed atmosphere, allowing staff to focus on direct patient care, and the technology helps streamline processes and shapes the patient pathway, saving time and money.”

Jayex has deployed its Enlighten technology at the Queen Victoria Hospital in West Sussex, leading to shorter check-in times, improved clinical flow, improved accuracy of demographic data, and an improvement in patient information

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