Don’t Underestimate the Importance of a Patient Health History Form
To successfully grow a dental practice, you need to find ways of connecting with patients. A health history form can start that process and help you build a lasting relationship with your patients for years to come. Your dental office software system should simplify collecting this information for your patients, requiring only a few online clicks. Most new patients expect to complete a health history form even if they may have questions about why such health information is needed.
Patient interaction with the staff, dentist, and even your dental office software is critical at this point, as a smooth interaction will go a long way towards building trust. This process sets the tone for a positive patient experience for new and returning patients.
It’s necessary to collect an accurate medical/dental history before starting treatment. An unpleasant patient history process can sour the entire experience at an early stage of the budding relationship. While this stage may seem like an easy layup, missing your shot to set a positive tone makes winning patient trust harder.
Collecting Patient Health History
Patient healthy history forms must be filled out, examined, and recorded in your dental office software system before a patient can receive treatment. Some of the issues covered in a health history help establish a patient’s current health and whether they’re being treated for any illnesses.
Make sure to ask patients about information that includes:
- Past and current medical conditions, including whether a patient has (or had had) an infectious disease, a blood disorder, allergies, asthma, or organ dysfunction.
- Surgical history
- Any prescription medications the patient is currently taking, as different types of meds can interfere with anesthetics or other drugs a dentist may prescribe.
- Known allergies
- Current medical treatments
While the above list is incomplete, it serves as a solid reminder of the fundamental questions all patient health histories should include. The ADA has established guidelines for creating a comprehensive health history form for a complete list.
Talking with Patients
Filling out the form is only the first step in the process of taking a patient’s health history. After the patient has filled out the form, the dentist needs to review the information before meeting with the patient.
The dentist should also take the time to review the health history with the patient before starting any treatment or examination. This conversation will help clear up any miscommunication between what the patient wrote and intended to write, and it also starts the process of building patient trust.
The dentist also needs to record any new details from the conversation and add those details to the health history. Finally, both the patient and dentist should sign the form after the review to create a record that the information was personally discussed.
A patient’s health history should be updated after every appointment to reflect any changes to their health or medications. The notation should include the date of the discussion and which staff member conducted the conversation. The dentist or team member should take the time also to update the record with notes that reflect the conversation.
You should request that patients update their health history every two years. This helps ensure that no important information falls through the cracks of communication. Patients can take comfort knowing that their sensitive health information is safely stored in your dental office software system.