The same technology that lets us avoid the ticket office and buy our movie tickets from a machine in the theatre lobby is on its way to the doctor's office. Instead of a secretary at the front desk, a machine already greets patients in some cities. That is because Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest healthcare organizations in the country, has announced it is rolling out 90 self-serve kiosks in 60 of its medical clinics. Each of those machines is designed to do almost everything the receptionist can do - at the touch of a screen.
Lydia Howard, Kaiser Permanente Senior Business Consultant, says, "It has all sorts of implications for how we evolve the role of a receptionist."
The kiosk can check you in, handle your co-pay, update your medical info, and even tell you how to get to your appointment room. The benefit is that it will reduce the wait time for patients and free up real-life receptionists to handle cases that are more complex. However, so far, just like similar ticket machines at the airport, many patients choose to ignore them.
Right now, Kaiser is giving patients the option of registering with a person or a machine, but most agree that this trend is inevitable. Someday soon, patients will be encouraged to get lab tests, prescriptions, and even communicate with their doctors without even setting foot in an office. It saves time for the patient and it saves a lot of money for the clinic or hospital.