Best Practices for Designing a Patient Intake Form

Looking to design a patient intake form? Learn what information you should collect and the best way to collect that information.

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A patient intake form is a document used by healthcare providers to collect initial information from patients before they receive care or treatment. Patient intake forms often serve as the foundation for the patient's medical record in that particular practice, clinic, or hospital. The primary goal is to gather essential data about the patient, which will assist healthcare providers in delivering safe and tailored medical care.

Questions to Include in a Patient Intake Form

Personal and Demographic Information

  • Full name
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • Contact details (phone number, email address)
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Occupation

Emergency Contact Details

  • Name of emergency contact
  • Relationship to the patient
  • Contact information

Insurance and Billing Information

  • Health insurance provider
  • Policy number
  • Policyholder's name and relationship (if different from the patient)

Medical History

  • Previous surgeries or hospitalizations
  • Chronic illnesses or conditions (e.g., diabetes, hypertension)
  • Allergies (especially drug allergies)
  • Current medications (including over-the-counter medications, supplements, and herbs)
  • Family Medical History:
  • Health conditions prevalent in the family, which could be hereditary or relevant for risk assessment (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, cancers).

Lifestyle Information

  • Habits like smoking, alcohol consumption, recreational drug use
  • Physical activity levels
  • Diet

Primary Care and Referral Information

  • Name and contact details of the primary care physician or referring doctor

Reason for Visit

  • Specific symptoms or concerns that prompted the visit or appointment
  • Duration and severity of these symptoms

Consent and Agreements

  • Acknowledgment of privacy practices
  • Consent for treatment
  • Financial responsibility agreement
  • Privacy Statement: Information about how the patient's data will be used, stored, and protected, ensuring adherence to privacy regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) in the U.S. or other local data protection standards.

A patient intake form may vary in content and length based on the type of healthcare provider, specialty, and the care setting (e.g., a dental clinic will have different intake questions than a cardiology clinic). Regardless of its specific content, the primary purpose of the form is to ensure that the provider has all the necessary information to offer the best and safest care to the patient.

Best Practices for a Patient Intake Form

Objective and Scope

  • Determine the purpose of the form. Is it for initial registration, a specific treatment, or a certain department?
  • Define the scope. Decide on the breadth and depth of information required.

Legibility and Layout

  • Use clear, easy-to-read fonts.
  • Organize the form logically, starting with basic demographic information and then progressing to medical and social history.
  • Group related questions together, such as personal details, emergency contact, and medical history.
  • Avoid clutter. Space out questions and sections for ease of reading.

Simple and Clear Language

  • Avoid using medical jargon.
  • Use plain language and ensure questions are straightforward.
  • If using acronyms or abbreviations, provide a key or explanation.

Respect Privacy

  • Only request information that's essential for care or administrative purposes.
  • Include a privacy statement explaining how the patient's information will be used and protected.
  • Ensure the form complies with regulations like HIPAA (or local data protection standards).

Include Multiple Formats

  • Offer the form in multiple languages if serving a diverse population.
  • Consider making the form accessible for people with disabilities (e.g., large print for those with visual impairments).

Digital Integration:

  • If using electronic health records (EHR), ensure the form can be easily integrated.
  • Consider building an online version for pre-visit completion, which can save time during the actual visit and reduce paperwork.

Open-Ended and Closed-Ended Questions

  • Use closed-ended questions (e.g., checkboxes, radio buttons) for data that's consistent across patients.
  • Use open-ended questions where more detailed or unique information is needed.

Validation and Regular Updates

  • Test the form with a small group of patients and staff for feedback.
  • Regularly review and update the form to ensure it remains relevant and in line with best medical practices.

Consider Patient Comfort

  • Ensure questions are culturally sensitive.
  • Avoid questions that might be overly intrusive without a clear medical need.
  • Provide an option or space for patients to note any concerns or questions they may have.

Commonly Requested Info

  • Basic personal information (name, date of birth, address, contact details).
  • Emergency contact details.
  • Primary care physician or referring doctor's details.
  • Medical history, including surgeries, allergies, medications, and chronic illnesses.
  • Lifestyle information if relevant (smoking, alcohol consumption, exercise habits).
  • Family medical history.
  • Clear Instructions: Clearly state how to complete the form. Provide instructions on what to do once completed (e.g., where to return it).
  • Feedback Mechanism: Allow space or a section for patients to provide feedback or additional notes.
  • Printing and Storage: Use durable, quality paper if providing physical copies. Ensure electronic versions are stored securely and are backed up regularly.

Remember that the patient intake form is often the first interaction a patient has with a healthcare provider. Making it user-friendly, clear, and respectful can set a positive tone for the patient-provider relationship.

Ready to try out the best patient intake form builder on the market?

Get started for free with Feathery, the most powerful form and workflow builder.

  • HIPAA, GDPR, and SOC 2 compliant
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  • Integrate your forms with your EHR or other health systems.
  • Advanced document processing for insurance verification.
  • Collaborate on and e-sign patient agreements.