Branding & Exposure

What Should You Put on a Patient Sign-in Sheet?

What Should You Put on a Patient Sign-in Sheet?

A patient sign-in sheet is important documentation that is typically found at the front desk of most doctors’ offices. Patient sign-in sheets are used to keep track of patients’ arrival but they also serve another important purpose: legal protection. Patient sign-in sheets protect you, the doctor, by providing proof that a patient was at your office on a particular date. Such information is necessary in order to avoid any questions or concerns of fraud, as well as provide billing evidence for services rendered. Receipts, checks, or even office notes are not considered substantial evidence because they can easily be falsified. A patient sign-in sheet, on the other hand, is a simple and cost-effective approach that includes the date of the doctor’s visit and the patient’s personal information and signature – all handwritten.

Your medical practice’s sign-in sheet should represent what you and your practice stand for. It is the very first impression that you make on a patient upon their arrival. A sign-up sheet typically includes each of the following items: the patient’s name, arrival time, appointment time, and the doctor’s name. However, not all medical practices have these exact items on their sign-up sheet. You should put some thought into creating a sign-in sheet that will meet your needs and protect your practice but will also not violate patient confidentiality and privacy laws. Consider and include the following items on a patient sign-in sheet:

  • Medical practice logo – A logo is not just a random image representing your business. It is designed to send out a strong message and capture the attention of your target audience. A well-designed logo is unique and uses a combination of colors, fonts, and words. It is thought of as the identity of your practice – it is what makes your practice recognizable and memorable to both current and prospective patients. Always include your practice’s logo on patient sign-in sheets. For better or for worse, a logo tends to trigger an emotional response when it is seen.
  • The date – Believe it or not, the date on a patient sign-in sheet serves a significant purpose. It provides you with information such as when a patient has come in to see you, how long it has been since their last visit (for medical purposes such as prescription refills) and it protects you from cases of fraud, such as false billing claims.
  • Patient personal email – All patients want a doctor who is caring, trustworthy, and reliable. Staying connected to your patients helps improve and reinforce your role as a caring provider. Include a field in the sign-in sheet for collecting patient information such as a personal email. This way, you can send patients’ appointment reminders or provide them with the latest news regarding your practice.
  • General information – In the medical field, when a patient enters a medical practice, they are not required to fill out specific information relating to their health. Instead consider creating a general information field where they can mark general reasons for their visit, such as appointment or meeting. As long as reasonable safeguards and minimum standards are met, patient care can be safely managed.

Any personal health-related information should be discussed between you and your patient privately, behind closed doors. Such information may include their medical history, any allergies they might have, blood type, etc. The information is collected to help you better understand the health-related problems that the patient has been experiencing and offer them the right course of treatment based on their individual needs.

  • Insurance billing – Another benefit of a patient sign-in sheet is addressing whether a patient is entitled to insurance coverage for health-related expenses. Include a field particularly relating to information on insurance billing.
  • Patient signature – One of the most important pieces of information on a patient sign-in sheet is a patient’s signature. It is imperative that the sign-in sheet is easily understood so that your patients do not have reservations when it comes to providing their signatures. A patient’s signature should simply act as consent for your services and allow you access to their medical records for routine purposes. Should a patient complain that their rights have been violated; their signature on the sheet may offer you an extra layer of protection if your practice is ever put under investigation.

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, a patient sign-in sheet should only contain information that is necessary for the sole purpose of signing in a patient. You should be careful with this because crossing out a patient’s name or leaving personal information in plain sight for other patients to see can result in possible fines or audits, in accordance with federal and state regulations. While patient-sign in sheets play an important role in proper office documentation, some patients may feel uncomfortable signing a sign-in sheet due to privacy concerns or the possibility of identity theft. For this reason, it should be made clear to them that such sheets will not violate their personal health-related information.

In order for a patient sign-in sheet to work effectively, you should make sure that your staff members, as well as your patients, understand how to use it and what information needs to be included. Some patients might not return if they feel that you or your staff members are unhelpful. Therefore, make sure that every time they step through your door, patients receive a complete and positive experience, from start to finish. If you are considering updating your sign-in sheet, hold a meeting with your staff members so that they are aware of the new policies. If patients do not want to fill out the sheet due to questions or concerns, you should know how to handle such situations and offer the best solution based on their individual needs. Being friendly and helpful to each patient can set a positive tone for the remainder of their visit and any future visits.

In today’s world of medicine with HIPAA rules and regulations, regular sign-in sheets are not going to pass. The problem with such sign-in sheets is that most receptionists cross off the names when patients are called; however, the names are still visible to other patients. Nowadays, most medical practices are using patient sign-in sheets that are HIPAA compliant. These special sheets limit access to personal information. Each patient writes down his or her name, arrival time, appointment name, and doctor’s name on a numbered label. The numbered label can be peeled off and it is given to the patient to take with them while waiting to be called upon, either by name or number. Best of all, the sheets keep a copy of the patient’s name behind special backing paper that is not visible to the public eye. Once a sheet has been filled, it can be filed away for reference down the road. These patient sign-in sheets provide confidential patient log on a daily basis and they are fairly priced. If you haven’t done so already, consider replacing the paper sign-in sheets with this new and approved approach. It is user-friendly, more legible, offers a back-up, and more important makes patients feel more secure about leaving their personal information. At the end of the day, being able to manage valuable documentation leads to office efficiency and adds more privacy to your practice.

While sign-in sheets serve as a way to keep track of your patients, they can also help you better understand what services your patients are requesting the most. Moreover, they allow you to keep a “first come, first serve” order in the waiting room. When it comes down to it, the more thought you put into creating and implementing a patient sign-in sheet, the better outcomes you will receive. As always, keep sign-in sheets clear and concise, all the while protecting patients’ privacy and providing quality health care.