Even without factoring in the COVID-19 crisis, medical services around the world are under more strain than ever before. Medical centers are coping with a growing and aging population, rising prevalence of chronic diseases, workforce shortages, and more. With rising pressure on our local and national healthcare providers, it’s crucial that we consider how technological solutions can help us increase efficiency and improve patient care.
Symptom checkers are an emerging tool used by all kinds of medical centers and providers to reduce waiting times, inform medical staff, and maximize patient satisfaction. To reach those goals, they typically use symptom checks in one of three ways: to facilitate self diagnosis, help with triage, and direct patients to the most appropriate medical service for their needs.
How do symptom checkers work?
Symptom checkers are patient questionnaires that can live on any website or page. They ask the patient a series of simple questions, one at a time, and generate a diagnosis or recommendation based on the information entered. Unlike completing a paper medical form, they are instant, interactive, and scalable.
Where can symptom checkers be used?
Almost every point of the patient’s diagnosis journey can be made more efficient by using a symptom checker. To demonstrate, let’s put you in the patient’s shoes.
You’re feeling unwell, but you’re not sure if a visit to the doctor is necessary. From the comfort of your home, you complete an online symptom checker. For starters, this reduces the reliance on telephone triage lines, which require appropriately trained staff and involve expensive call center overheads.
After entering your symptoms, the checker offers you tailored advice.
- If your symptoms sound serious, it will recommend you seek immediate, emergency care.
- If your symptoms are non-emergent but suggest you need further medical advice, it can direct you to the most appropriate service or center for your needs.
- If your symptoms are deemed to be minor, the symptom checker can reassure you by recommending you self-medicate and monitor your situation, or stay home until you start to feel better.
Directing patients to the appropriate next step helps both the patient and the provider. It helps eliminate unnecessary visits (and the time and money involved for both sides), while improving patient satisfaction and ensuring that medical services are reserved for those who need them.
Symptom checkers in the waiting room
However, symptom checkers are not only helpful in the home. Let’s imagine you’re in a busy waiting room, killing time while you wait for your appointment. Rather than flicking through dusty magazines or scrolling through your phone, you could be completing a symptom checker that gives the doctor preliminary information about your case. That way, you get your diagnosis faster, and use your time in the consultation room more effectively.
Whether trying to reduce pressure during a public health crisis, or simply making the day-to-day management of hospitals and practices smoother, symptom checkers are a simple, affordable, and powerful tool. They can be set up in just a few hours to drive informed decision-making that leads to happier patients and more efficient medical centers.
How can I implement a symptom checker?
Zingtree is a plug-and-play interactive decision tree solution that allows you to build and deploy powerful symptom checkers in minutes. Zingtree interactive decision trees are used by doctors and facilities worldwide to guide patients, one question at a time, from symptom evaluation through to resources, forms, or direct care options. They can be implemented quickly and accessed by a computer, tablet, or mobile device.
Zingtree’s simple interface − with no-code required − means healthcare providers can update and maintain their symptom checker without any reliance on technical teams. Even as information changes by the hour, updates can be pushed live in seconds. Plus, with detailed analytics and reporting, you can see exactly how often patients and community members access your symptom checker and the information they input, helping you to better plan and organize your facility. For example, the state of Victoria, Australia, used Zingtree to launch a COVID-19 self-assessment tool in just two days, helping them to advise citizens, inform public authorities, and mitigate the virus.
Would you like to learn more about how to implement a Zingtree symptom checker? Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team to discuss how we can best help you.