Your intake form is one of the most important tools you have as a practitioner. It’s the first point of contact for many clients, and sets the stage for treatment planning. A well-crafted intake form can help you gather essential information about your clients’ health histories, treatment goals, and preferences, and it can also help establish clear boundaries and expectations for your work together.
But how do you create a form that is not only comprehensive and effective, but also user-friendly and professional? Whether you’re just starting out or looking to revamp your existing process, read on to discover some of the key elements of a successful intake form.
Go digital: Tailor your form to your clients’ preferences
If you’re allowing your patients to fill out their own intake, you want to make sure you’re tailoring the experience to their needs. Using an electronic system has become the preferred method for many patients for its convenience and ease of use. On the practitioner side, you’re not only providing a superior experience, you’re also saving yourself time and avoiding the risk of incomplete forms that come with paper forms.
Pro tip: Some folks simply do prefer good old-fashioned pen and paper. To make intake easy and accessible for them, we suggest having a laminated version of your form in-clinic. Have your patient fill it out and then snap a picture and upload it into your EHR – that way, you can decrease your paperwork, and still cater to the needs of your less-than-tech-savvy patients.
Make a connection: Personalize your intake form for better engagement
Your intake form should be brief and easy to fill out, but that doesn’t mean it can’t have some personality. Consider customizing the language on your form to offer clients a warm introduction to you, your practice, and the way you like to work.
Beyond the basics: How adding value to your intake can maximize success
When you’re thinking about what to include, think about how you can help the patient reach their goals and how you can make them feel most comfortable during their treatment. For example, this is an opportunity for you to ask about their health history, existing conditions, past experiences with other practitioners, and their overall preferences. Knowing this information will help you create a customized treatment plan that works for them and leads to better outcomes.
Protect your practice: Adding electronic consent and cancellation policies
Your intake form should include your clients’ consent to treatment as well as their consent to different types of electronic communication (perhaps they prefer to be emailed instead of texted, or vice versa). It’s also always a good idea to check with your local college or governing body about what is a must-have to include in your intake form.
You can also include your cancellation policy here as well. At Jane, you have the option to collect your clients’ credit card information at the intake stage. That way, if there is a no-show or late cancellation, you can automatically take payment and avoid awkward conversations with clients.
Overall, you want to be clear about the way you work and what your client can expect from their appointment so there are no misunderstandings or surprises.
From intake to outreach: leveraging your forms for marketing success
Where did your client hear about you? Were they referred by a friend, or did they find you online? Knowing this information is helpful when considering how to market your practice. If most people find you online, you could focus your attention on writing content that targets your audience and their interests. If, on the other hand, you’re finding a large chunk of your business comes from word-of-mouth, you could build a referral incentive strategy for your current clients instead.
Remember, the best intake form is one that saves your time and energy
Manually sending out your intake form to every client will take up a lot of precious time (and brain power) that you could be using elsewhere. Automating the process of sending your forms is convenient and effective, especially if it allows you to remind and prompt patients to fill it out before their appointment. (Jane reminds patients 24 hours prior to their appointment if their intake form isn’t completed.)
Collecting information in this way also ensures it’s consistent, reducing the likelihood of human error or the possibility of having to ask for the information more than once.
In addition to automating the process of sending your forms, you could save more time by using pre-built templates (available in Jane’s template library) or by drawing inspiration from other practitioners. By creating a streamlined intake process, you’ll be more available to focus on providing high-quality care to your clients.
Creating an effective intake form is a crucial step in the client onboarding process, but it’s just the beginning of your work as a practitioner. Think of it as a jumping off point for understanding your clients’ needs. Your sessions will allow you to deepen that understanding by asking thoughtful questions, listening carefully, and finally, assessing with compassion.