In order to meet the increasing complexity of today’s ever-changing healthcare environment, independent practices must continually adopt progressive business models. The most progressive model that is being adopted by thousands of private practices is that of an integrated workflow approach.
Integrated workflow will make a huge difference, even for a tech-savvy practice, by smartly automating administrative paperwork and other time-intensive tasks that don’t require a human touch. The foundation of an integrated workflow approach is a new practice management model integrating EHR, practice management, ePrescribing, patient engagement and billing software, as opposed to relying on non-integrated standalone systems, which focus solely on each individual task.
The integrative workflow approach improves both the patient and physician experience. Patients are more engaged in their own care and the physician has more time to devote to it. It also aligns toward value-based care, which includes creating a better patient experience and making patients more responsible for maintaining their own health. Other benefits of an integrated workflow include:
Patients can fill out most paperwork online prior to the visit at their convenience, which as you can imagine, also keeps the patient-flow moving faster throughout the day. The patient’s information is automatically routed to the patient’s EHR and is easily accessible to the physician during the visit. Following the visit, the physician’s office may send an email or text to patients thanking them for their visit with a reminder to pick up any prescribed medications at the pharmacy. If the physician needs to review lab results with the patient, this can be done via a telemedicine visit rather than having the patient return to the office.
The physician can utilize a tablet to document patient information in real time during the visit rather than writing it down and transferring it later into the patient’s record. The tablet prompts the physician to ask pertinent questions derived from evidence-based practice. The same result can be achieved with a desktop computer in the exam room, and EHR desktop versions that are fully integrated with practice management tools typically offer even more features than tablet versions.
Anecdotally, physicians who incorporate an integrated workflow into their practices note they have more time to spend with their patients. Generally, primary care physicians spend an average of only six minutes per patient because they must see a certain number of patients a day to be profitable. With the improved efficiencies, clinicians can also spend more time with their families and even perform some administrative tasks on their mobile tablets while away from the office.
Reduction of medical errors
In the U.S., medical errors claim approximately 251,000 lives every year, according to a 2016 study in BMJ. Immediate access to real-time information within the integrated workflow can significantly reduce medication-related errors.
The more efficient the practice is, the higher patient volumes it can manage while improving patient satisfaction and health.
The most limited resource in any practice is each provider’s time. There are only so many billable hours in a day, so it’s essential to maximize the amount of time that results in earning revenue. Unpaid telephone follow-up calls, patient no-shows, and downtime between patients all eat into practice profitability.
Technology is a key enabler of a patient journey’s success, and independent practices can leverage technology to successfully enhance the patient experience. Providers who can demonstrate that they care about their patients’ time, convenience and mobility by providing healthcare on the patient’s terms will be at a competitive advantage over those who don’t. Similarly, the provider who facilitates the patient journey will keep the patient. The key is through an integrated technology-driven practice.
Are you integrated?
With the numerous benefits afforded to the physician and patient by an integrated workflow, one would think all practices would have adopted it by now. However, many physicians who subscribe to a free EHR with limited capabilities, non-cloud legacy EHR or other sub-par EHRs, are not even aware that such opportunities exist.
Nevertheless, integrated physician and patient workflow has become vital for practices that seek to thrive in the complex healthcare environment. It makes the physician’s life more manageable and practicing medicine more fulfilling and enjoyable while enhancing the provider’s ability to deliver a higher level of patient care. If the practice is healthy, the patient will be as well.
While the right integrated workflow approach can help a practice address various demands of compliance reporting, optimal integration also means satisfied users –providers, staff and patients – every single day. Information from patient charts flows easily from EHR to PM, thus simplifying billing. Having one database and one application for EHR and PM eliminates the need to enter duplicate information into two different systems.
With the right tools, independent physicians can stay on the cutting edge and keep their practices ahead of the game. This means using technology both to run an efficient business and to give patients access to healthcare technology options that they’ve never before had. A patient-centered practice that is managed well is the very best marketing tool for an independent practice.