Spending Less Time in Line

Woman using touch screen
An employee demonstrates checking in for an appointment on one of the new self-service kiosks in UConn Health's dermatology office at 21 South Road. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo)

Wait times for appointment check-ins are starting to get shorter at UConn Health.

It’s already begun in the dermatology office, where three self-service kiosks are up and running to expedite the intake process.

“This will have a real positive impact on our patients and their satisfaction,” says information technology project manager Bert Romeo.

Similar in concept to self-service check-in technology at commercial airports, the kiosks handle some of the basic tasks that typically can add to patient wait times.

“Whether it is registration components, validating demographics, checking in, paying their co-pay, all of that can be done on the kiosk,” says Anne Horbatuck, UConn Health’s vice president for ambulatory services. “We’ll have one of our clinical office assistants or another staff member with them to assist people, just like at the airport.”

Express check-in kiosk
The dermatology practice at UConn Health now uses self-service kiosks to expedite the check-in process for patients. (Tina Encarnacion/UConn Health photo)

Patients who already are on myUConnHealth, UConn Health’s secure online patient portal, will get a barcode on their phone ahead of time. When they arrive, they scan the barcode at the kiosk, jump right ahead to signing any needed forms, and have a seat in the waiting room.

For patients who haven’t registered before or who have a lot of information to update, the front desk remains the more appropriate option.

Enabling a portion of the individual encounters to run concurrently rather than consecutively can add up to significant time savings in a high-volume operation like the dermatology office, where checking in can take four minutes per patient and the backups can lead to wait times of 10 minutes or more just to get to the front desk.

“This is to enhance the personal experience for the patient, and to expedite the process so that when people do have to go through the front desk, they’re able to spend the time that is needed,” Horbatuck says. “It’s the same number of staff, just now able to assist more patients in less time, and still get the high-quality care we deliver,”

Instead of chipping away at that line one patient at a time, one of the clinical office assistants now can come out from behind the front desk and assist two or even three patients at a time as they become familiar with the kiosks, ultimately relieving wait times for all patients.

“It will really help us streamline our check-in process not only for returning and phototherapy patients who can use the kiosk, but new patients as well, as they will be able to check-in more efficiently,” says Debbie Bugryn, director of dermatology, Mohs surgery and dermatopathology. “As more patients sign-up for MyUConnHealth, they will also see the advantages as they will be able to scan their barcode to complete most of the check-in process, which is great.”

One of the three dermatology kiosks is exclusively for phototherapy patients, who come in for short, recurring treatments – weekly or sometimes more frequently. No longer will they spend more time waiting in line for their appointment than for the appointment itself.

“This is a start, and we want to make sure that patients and staff are happy with this, then we’ll look into rolling this out in other groups,” Horbatuck says.

Long-term plans are likely to include clinics in the Outpatient Pavilion.