How to create patient form templates for your practice

Guest author Annastashia Cambridge, ex-IT consultant and director of Two Hands Health Ltd, has offered up her top advice on how you can simplify the process of creating patient form templates. She's even shared her own downloadable examples below!

Guest author

Annastashia Cambridge, Two Hands Health Ltd·

Annastashia Cambridge and Dr. Dan of Two Hands Health Ltd pictured standing in front of a snow-capped mountain range in New Zealand

There can be a lot of paper in a chiropractic practice. From the myriad of patient forms to treatment notes and referrals—it can all pile up quickly. That’s especially true for a practice like ours that offers chiropractic care for both humans and animals.

I did a lot of research into how our practice, Two Hands Health in Richmond, New Zealand, could go paperless. Cliniko was clearly the solution we were looking for, and I’ve never looked back!

When we first got started with Cliniko, it was meeting most of our business needs, but the new digital forms feature hadn’t been released yet.

So we used Google Forms to fill the gap. That proved to be an effective short-term solution. But the processes involved just weren’t sustainable. With multiple clinics, human and animal patients, and all the different types of information needed, Google forms wound up being an administrative nightmare.

There was just too much to keep track of. I’d have to select the right form to send to a patient at the right time. Then I’d have to go back and enter their responses into Cliniko by hand. Maybe it was better than a paper system, but it was still tough.

Needless to say, I was hugely relieved when Cliniko came out with the new forms functionality, and I’m totally in love with it! Now, the right forms are automatically included in patient emails, and their responses are instantly synced with their file in my Cliniko account.

How we created our patient forms in Cliniko

From our experience, we found the hardest part of getting our new forms set up was figuring out the minimum amount of information we needed from patients and what our must-have forms and form fields were. This gets a little extra complicated when treating people and animals.

I am originally an IT consultant by trade, so I felt most comfortable using the MoSCoW approach to help build our forms. MoSCoW is a well-known prioritisation method from the tech world. It’s an acronym that stands for ‘must, should, could, and would’.

For our forms, we wrote a list of the fields we thought we needed and then decided if they were a M, S, C or W. In the end, most forms end up with mainly ‘musts’ and ‘shoulds’ as the ‘coulds’ and ‘woulds’ just wind up feeling unnecessary.

Here is how we defined each category:

  • M: We must have the field to meet our business needs (e.g., Name, DOB, Owner details, Breed, Current health information, etc.).
  • S: The field should be included, if possible, but only if it is needed on record from the patient (e.g., medications, surgeries, etc.).
  • C: We could include the field, but only if it reduces the practitioner’s administrative workload.
  • W: We would like to have the field later if we find we need it.

It is good to consider that many patients will complete a digital form on a phone or tablet, so it is important to make it easy for them to complete. For example, checkboxes are much faster to select and offer more accurate information gathering than an open text box.

Remember, this isn’t a one and done sort of deal. Determining the forms and fields that we thought we needed was a long process and required a lot of brainstorming and research. It took several goes at prioritizing and generated much discussion! We still consider the bigger forms a work in progress and tweak these as we go along.

To reduce the setup effort, I started by creating the form that would ask for the most ‘reusable information’ (like a patient’s name, birth date, and phone number). Then, I copied it to use as a starting point for the next form and just removed or added fields as needed.

Cliniko’s import and export form template feature was a fantastic tool for this step. It made the setup simple, and it allowed me to easily offer our templates to another business who asked for help.

How we use our Cliniko patient forms

We have forms for new patients, transferring or reactivating patients (transferring from another chiropractor or returning after a period away), accident claims, and new animal patients.

Some are short and sweet. Others are pretty long—well, really long. Our new patient form has 13 sections and 45 questions. But it’s not always appropriate to keep a form short. When we know specific information is needed, we ask for it.

Our forms primarily go out as links included in appointment confirmation emails to make sure we have all the information we need before an appointment. But I will sometimes create a new form and send it out separately via email (like forms related to accident claims).

Or if someone deletes their appointment confirmation email before completing the necessary forms, it is great to be able to copy the links and email them on the fly.

During COVID-19, we were required in New Zealand, to ask each patient a set of questions prior to their appointment dates. Cliniko forms to the rescue!

A screenshot of the COVID-19 form Two Hands Health Ltd developed to screen patients. Includes yes/no questions on symptoms or contact with others who have symptoms.

A snapshot of the screening form that Annastashia developed during the pandemic.

I quickly created a short form and added the link to the appointment reminder email template. It didn’t take long, as I started with a copy of our standard reminder template and then tweaked it with COVID-19 specific information and included the COVID-19 form link.

Taking the leap into digital forms and leaving behind the paper can be a great way to collect your patients’ information. Cliniko forms are easy to use and customise, and they have continued to improve their offering with practical new features.

If getting going with your ‘musts, shoulds, coulds and woulds’ is a bit too challenging, then reach out to some of your peers and ask for help. I am sure someone nice will share their templates!

Looking for a bit of extra inspiration to use in building your own templates? Annastashia has very kindly shared some examples of her template forms that you can use in your Cliniko account:

Our help article explains how you can import these templates into your own Cliniko account!

Author information

Annastashia is the “business end” of Two Hands Health Ltd, while her husband Dr Dan does the “doctoring”! They are based in New Zealand, providing chiropractic care for people and animals of all ages, sizes, and breeds.

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