Self check-in kiosks have become common in retail and service industries as a way to improve efficiency. As healthcare catches the bug, there’s lots of talk about how kiosks can facilitate faster check-ins, greater patient control and accelerated collections. However, it’s still early for kiosks in healthcare, and we suggest you wait until on purchasing one until the industry works out the kinks. Patient check-in kiosks are clearly the future, but not yet.

Kiosks took a while to settle in other industries

As anyone who traveled or bought groceries in the last decade can attest, kiosk adoption hasn’t been an entirely smooth journey. But it has ultimately been successful.

Consider the airline industry as an example. In 2004, 80% of airline passengers walked up to the ticket counter and talked to an actual human being before boarding a plane. By 2016 that number had flipped. Today over 80% of airline passengers check in online or at a kiosk.

There are two things to notice here: kiosks became the norm, but the process took over a decade. Airline companies were already experimenting with kiosks in the early 2000s. But the technology was new and customers didn’t understand it. You might remember walking up to an airline kiosk and getting confused trying to peel off the baggage tag and attach it to your luggage.

Self check-out in grocery stores was similar. Hearing the machine shout “unexpected item in the bagging area” more than once was enough to make most people choose a longer checkout line. Many grocery stores started phasing out self check-out around 2011, only to give the technology a second chance five years later.

The takeaway from other industries is that the march of progress eventually leads to self-service kiosks. But it hasn’t been an incredibly smooth march.

An active self check-in patient registration system at a hospital in Ontario

Why we’re waiting to develop a check-in kiosk solution

Kiosks are now well established, but in healthcare they’re still relatively new. You may have notice a self-service kiosk in a hospitals recently and wondered, “Should my practice have one of those?”

Our view is “yes,” but not yet. Healthcare will adopt patient check-in kiosks, but the technology is still evolving. Before you spend thousands of dollars and reorganize your check-in workflow, consider some of the disadvantages of kiosks:

  • Patient can get frustrated if they don’t understand how to use a kiosk (or if it malfunctions).
  • Large kiosks with heavy hardware tend to be fixed in place, making it hard to reorganize your space to meet the needs of the business.
  • All new technology suffers from hardware and software failures, and kiosks are no exception.
  • Setting up a new kiosk system can have high upfront costs.
  • Staff will still need to be on hand for patients who don’t understand the technology or have challenges using it.
  • Kiosks reduce person-to-person interactions, so providers should consider how this affects the patient experience.

It’s true that patient check-in kiosks have real advantages for healthcare. But it takes time for patients to become comfortable with new technology, and trust is paramount. We’re still early in the journey, and you don’t want an “unexpected item in the bagging area” scenario in your waiting room.

Check back with the doctor next year

When patient check-in kiosks have evolved enough to really benefit your practice, Mobius MD will be ready. As the medical workflow company, we’re dedicated to helping providers adopt the latest technology. We know that innovation can save time, lower costs and improve the patient experience.

Mobius Clinic already offers innovative solutions that help hundreds of providers streamline their practice – from patient intake to documentation. We will design a kiosk check-in solution when we believe self check-in is poised to provide real value for your medical practice. Patient check-in kiosks are the future, but be weary of anyone who says they’re ready this year.

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