Patients entering the emergency department at Thames Hospital in New Zealand over the next several months will be greeted by a computerized self-help kiosk rather than a medical receptionist. They will be able to check in on their own; the kiosk will also check vital signs including blood pressure and heart rate. Use of the kiosk is part of an experimental program the hospital is testing to see if it can help medical receptionists be more efficient and productive.
The idea seems to be a good one, given the hectic nature of medical receptionist jobs at busy hospitals. Receptionists often find themselves overwhelmed by a constant stream of patients all requiring time and attention. The kiosk eliminates the need for a receptionist to manually enter information when he or she could be assisting patients in other ways. A successful test at Thames would likely mean installation of the kiosks at other hospitals in New Zealand.
Could we see the same thing here in the U.S.? Most likely, yes. Technology is making its way into every area of healthcare delivery in order to improve efficiency and patient outcomes. If something as simple as a self-help kiosk can improve the work being done by medical receptionists, there would be no logical reason to reject it.
The Receptionist Job
The medical receptionist is often the first person a patient encounters upon entering a medical facility. However, the variation in facility operations suggests that medical receptionist jobs are not as black-and-white as one might think. What a receptionist does in a doctor’s office will be substantially different compared to a similar position in a busy hospital ER.
As an example, the medical receptionist at a private practice will usually answer phones and schedule appointments. Those tasks are not normal for ER receptionists. Due to the nature of the setting, ER receptionists concentrate more on providing care immediately rather than dealing with scheduling and phone call forwarding. This is why the kiosk could be an integral part of medical reception in hospitals.
Collecting patient data is one of the common tasks all medical receptionists handle regardless of their work setting. Moreover, it is the most time-consuming task of all. Just eliminating that portion of the receptionist’s workload allows the individual to help more patients throughout a given workday.
The ability of the self-help kiosk to measure vital signs is another important capability that could also reduce the workload of nursing staff. It would take some fine-tuning of software, but the potential is certainly there to use the kiosk to better prioritize patients who need to see medical personnel right away.
Making Offices More Efficient
The self-help kiosk will not be bringing an end to medical receptionist jobs by any stretch. Nevertheless, they could go a long way toward making the medical office or hospital admissions center more efficient and productive. We will be interested to know the results of the testing in New Zealand sometime next year. There is hope that the technology will perform better than expected, leading to expansion of the program in New Zealand and abroad.
In the meantime, your search for medical receptionist jobs begins here at Health Jobs Nationwide. Our industry-leading jobs board can connect you with thousands of opportunities in cities and towns across the country. We encourage you to use this site not only to look for work, but also to connect with others in your field. The more interaction we have in the healthcare community, the better the delivery system will be.