Encouraging tech-savvy students to register at your practice

Freshers’ Week – How to get over 700 new patients registered in one month

David Jones, Clerkenwell Medical Practice

Based in East London, Clerkenwell’s catchment area covers several colleges, including the Alma Mater of many a soul in the medical profession: Imperial.

What were your traditional student registration methods?
We have 4 or 5 campuses on our patch, and we’d have to literally print out thousands of registration forms and stand in Halls all day, every day, during Freshers’ Week, handing them out. The new students would then fill in the forms and bring them into the surgery to complete the registration process.

We’d usually only get a couple of hundred registering before Christmas. The rest – 3,000 to 4,000 – would register in trickles throughout the ensuing academic year, usually when they were ill; which of course is quite a headache for both them and us.

How is it done differently now?
The new website which Silicon Practice developed for us enables them to register online; in fact, they have their own dedicated page on the site.

So now, instead of taking away the forms, filling them in (often times illegibly and with missing bits), bringing them back to us, going away to fill them out again properly, coming back to us… NOW they do it all online.

Because it’s all online, they can do it at a time to suit themselves, which in itself is a massive incentive and barrier removed!

Best of all, the page has mandatory fields so we’re never left with missing information.

You can imagine how much faster and easier the whole process is, both for them and us.

What are the benefits?
The new website has made a huge financial difference. We’ve seen a vast improvement in numbers – we’ve already received over 1000 new registrations.

Plus it’s eliminated 99% of the problems which we had last year – missing info, illegible writing and the like.

Time-wise, it’s saved a heck of a lot of time and made life much easier for our receptionists too.

How do the Freshers know about the website?
We have leaflets in their Uni Welcome Packs and also with the on-site nurse in the Halls which we’re on-site at. Although of course the students can register with any Practice, because the on-site nurse is from Clerkenwell, he or she has access to our patient files, so from the students’ point of view it’s more practical and convenient to be registered with us.

Also a key driver is our use of QR coding: we have a QR code on all the student literature. They just take a pic of it using their mobile or tablet and it takes them straight to the student registration page.


Julie Kiley, Engleton House Surgery

Engleton House runs the Coventry Uni Medical Centre, and recently introduced a new page to their website for student-specific online registration, including an online registration form.

Why did you decide to have online registrations?
We wanted to get as many students as possible to register with us at the start of the [academic] year, rather than having them come in during the year when they’re ill. To achieve this, we felt that we needed to make the process easier, faster and more convenient for them.

I’d seen the term “online registrations” in a Silicon Practice newsletter – it caught my eye because that’s exactly what was in my mind – so I gave Jane Oddy a call and went from there.

What have the results been?
Amazing. We’ve had 785 registrations so far. The Surgery doctors are delighted, as are the admin staff.

As well as the financial benefits, we’ve found that we’re saving a huge amount of time which used to be spent calling students back to get missing information, or not being able to read their handwriting. The mandatory fields have been so helpful; they’ve made everything so much faster.

How did you go about letting the new students know how to register with you?
We created a flyer which gave the QR code and handed them out at Freshers’ Week, so that they could instantly go to the right page. We also put the code on pull-up banners dotted around the college grounds.

The Uni was very helpful too – they let us put the flyers at all 7 receptions within the buildings, which is a great back-up for late arrivals or concerned parents.

How did you find the Silicon Practice team to be?
I found them very re-assuring to work with. From the very start when I initially contacted Jane, they’ve been quick to respond to every question and call. Our website editor – Charlie – would always call back straight away and nothing was ever too much trouble. We would bat ideas around together and both she and Jane were great at helping us get such a huge project completed so successfully.

I’m looking forward to debriefing with them in a couple of weeks, when we’ll go through everything with a fine-toothed comb and see if there are any improvements or upgrades to the system which we can make for next year. But for this year, this time around, all I can say is that we’re delighted.

If you’d like to know more about setting up new patient registration forms, please give Jane Oddy a call on 01793 710500 or email jane.oddy@siliconpractice.co.uk.