Medical Office Forms Design & Data Capture

Most medical practices still prefer traditional paper forms to compile patient files. However, the push to work towards compliance under HIPPA has encouraged those in the medical field to adopt electronic, web-based forms. New patient forms, privacy agreements, hospital inpatient admissions or pre-registration are all examples of electronic forms that those in the medical field are expected to start using.

One of the most important aspects that influence the process of data capture and forms processing is the design of the medical form. However, many medical offices don’t give much consideration to the actual design and development of the form until they learn about the struggles of capturing and processing the data.   The challenge is to determine the best method for creating the form.  The effectiveness in capturing and processing the forms, as well as getting accurate data collection, all depends on how the form is designed.

Here are a few tips on developing medical forms that are easily scanned, captured and processed:

  • Constrained forms encourage patients to fill in information more legibly.  If the form offers an open space to write it is likely letters, if not entire words will be illegible.  Lettering grids with single blocks for each letter is the best way to get readable information.
  • Use reasonable field sizes.  Allow more room than necessary for information.  If the form is tight on space, many of the fields will be illegible which lowers accuracy in data capture and processing.
  • Scanner registration points are critical for any form that will be scanned.  The points on a document help align the image to ensure that all fields are recognized.
  • Number each field or question.  The more fields included on a form, and the more different types of fields used, makes numbering even more important to backend data entry.  This includes check-box questions as well.
  • Lastly, leave off graphics and fancy fonts.  These special touches might make the form look prettier, but it makes the processing a bit more difficult, time consuming and potentially more expensive.

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