How to Ensure Efficient Patient Chart Completion

In every successful medical practice, the front office staff takes on multiple roles, juggling various responsibilities to keep things running smoothly. However, we recognize that valuable time spent on manual data entry is time not spent engaging in more impactful tasks.

Consider a scenario where, out of 15 patients scheduled in a day, 10 neglect to complete their intake forms before their appointments. This situation places a substantial burden on the front desk workers, compelling them to ensure that each of these patients fills out the necessary information on-site.

Why does it matter? Because patient charts aren’t just paperwork; they hold all the nitty-gritty details about a patient’s condition, ensuring accurate diagnoses, safe treatments, and hassle-free insurance reimbursements.

Patient charts are pivotal in maintaining up-to-date and comprehensive information about a patient before appointments. This essential documentation contains the patient’s medical history, current medications, allergies, past treatments, and any other important detail required for a better understanding before diagnosis. 

In this article, we will discuss chart completion is so critical and how you can accomplish this.


Risks of Poor Patient Chart Completion

The impact of incomplete patient charts reverberates far beyond the initial data entry challenge. Let’s look at some of the risks that stem from poor completion and the significant consequences they pose to both time and resources. 

  • Increased Burden on Doctors: When patients neglect to complete intake forms, it sets off a chain reaction. Doctors are then left grappling with incomplete information, forcing them to invest tenfold effort in chart entry. This consumes an exorbitant amount of their valuable time and becomes a massive financial drain on the practice.

  • Potential Safety Hazards in Medication Prescriptions: When patients fail to complete the intake forms, it introduces concerns related to data accuracy, potentially leading to misunderstandings or errors in the treatment process. An incomplete medical history is also a potential safety hazard when prescribing medications. Providers, faced with incomplete information, are compelled to dedicate extensive time to manually fill in the gaps, doubling down on chart entry efforts to ensure medication safety.

  • Increased Claim Denials: Poor completion of patient charts also results in more billing errors, which in turn leads to claim denials. Around 5%-10% of claims get denied because of incorrect coding, causing a loss in revenue due to delayed reimbursements.

This domino effect of incomplete patient charts goes beyond the doctor’s desk. It cascades into increased wait times for existing patients and a reduction in available slots for new patient appointments.

Ensuring Patient Chart Completion Before Visit 

Let’s walk through some easy steps to ensure patient charts are completed accurately.

  • Appointment Booking: When a patient calls to book an appointment, send them the intake forms during appointment creation. You can send the forms via email or text message, so make sure to ask how the patient would like to receive them. Filling out the intake forms automatically populates the patient’s charts.

  • Follow-up 2 Days Before the Visit: If the patient charts still need to be completed 2 days before the visit, send a reminder. The intake form reminders can be sent at the click of a button from an appointment. Clicking on the “Reminder” button resends the forms to the patient letting them know they have an appointment.

  • Patient Visit: If the forms still need to be completed when the patient arrives, hand them an iPad. Ask them to fill out the forms before entering the doctor’s room to ensure the provider has all the important medical information for diagnosis.

Sometimes older patients may not be comfortable filling out forms on an iPad and would rather prefer paper forms for intake. In such cases, direct them to the exam room and fill out the forms together, ensuring proper data entry and chart completion before the visit. Choose a quiet and comfortable setting for the elderly person, free from distractions and noise. Give them time to respond without rushing them to help them comprehend the question and answer accurately. Be willing to repeat or rephrase questions if they don’t understand or hear you the first time, and provide examples for clarification if need be.


Failure to complete patient charts not only raises concerns about data accuracy but also poses significant challenges to the seamless functioning of medical practices. It is a gateway to ensuring medication safety and reducing wait times for both patients and healthcare providers. By following the easy steps outlined – from sending intake forms during appointment booking to gentle reminders and offering convenient options for completion – practices can streamline their processes and enhance overall efficiency.