November 10, 2020

Why Emergency Departments Need Online Check-in

Based on the first-come-first serve nature of emergency departments, many hospitals think they have little need for an online booking or check-in tool. Initially, so did we.So what changed our minds and ultimately led us to creating software solely focused on this use case?

Why do emergency departments even need online check-in?

This is a question that we asked ourselves before creating Arriv. Based on the first-come-first serve nature of emergency departments, many hospitals think they have little need for an online booking or check-in tool. Initially, so did we.

So what changed our minds and ultimately led us to creating software solely focused on this use case?

Two reasons. Digital search and digital decision making.

First, online searches for terms such as “emergency rooms near me” have been skyrocketing for the last 5 years. A majority of patient journeys to the hospital ED now start with a digital search, most often on a mobile device.

With this, 9 in 10 patients drive or get driven to the ER by a family or friend. That led us to want to learn more about what patients thought, felt, and did in these moments of need, since online search was becoming a crucial part of the patient decision-making process.

So one of our co-founders, who has a Ph.D. in Consumer Psychology and Behavior, conducted research in several of the biggest US markets to learn in detail how patients make healthcare decisions in emergent situations. The approach combined on-the-ground ethnographic research, focus groups, and deep analysis of digital patient journeys.

This research uncovered the second reason why we changed our minds.

Patients have significant apprehension around the decision about where and precisely when to pursue emergency care -- and most hospitals are doing little to close the gap and build confidence in the moments of search.

In moments of medical need, the stakes for patients are high. They wonder where their problem will receive the best care in a timely manner. At the same time, they’re under pressure to decide quickly. They have to make a big, fast, and potentially expensive decision -- scary.

Online check-in solves the primary anxiety in the decision-making moment.

While things like insurance, quality of providers, and proximity are all factors -- an emergency department’s readiness and availability were the two largest unknowns that lead people to delaying care or choosing another facility for their care.

We discovered that an online check-in tool has the power to quickly and concisely communicate readiness and availability and, therefore, inspire greater confidence in making a decision to go to a particular facility. When we introduce Arriv to emergency facilities who previously do not have online check-in, their average daily patient volumes numbers increase.

Online check-in serves as a powerful signal that an ED is more than just open -- they are ready and waiting for a patient. It’s a true invitation that feels more personal.  Additionally, patients often perceive that an ED will be more caring and offer a better experience when they arrive. The reason is that patients believe that these hospitals understand one of their greatest sources of anxiety so will offer a better experience overall.

Much more than just convenience. Confidence.

Many people still believe that an online registration tool is only valuable for businesses who reserve appointment times or that patients are only driven by convenience. While that’s a significant factor in most cases, there’s an added bonus for emergency situations - confidence.

By offering a patient a way to check-in online, they immediately regain a sense of control and well being while everything else is chaotic. Committing to a plan immediately lowers anxiety and gains them a partner. There is now caring staff that knows they are coming soon, and the patient can simply focus their attention on arriving.

Emergency departments build confidence by both communicating their availability and giving people the option to let the hospital know they’re on their way. Ultimately, these hospitals win the most patients over their competitors.

Not just any online check-in tool. Arriv is designed for emergencies.

We designed Arriv with deep empathy for patients in emergency situations. It led us to strip away all but the necessary information needed to get them checked-in as simply and as quickly as possible.

It’s what drove our decision to not take patients to a third party website, which immediately erodes patient confidence. The check-in completion rate is much higher if they stay within the hospital’s domain.

Building patient confidence in moments of need also drives our relentless experimentation to find more ways to drive decisions, commitment, and ultimately conversion.

The proof is in the numbers. We have the industry’s highest online and in-person conversion rates. 86% of the patients who check-in using Arriv show up to the emergency department in person.

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