Using Technology to Build an Integrated Practice #3 of 6
See how the fully-automated private practice can improve patient engagement & outcomes.
Note: This is the third blog in a 6-part series
According to a survey conducted by The Physicians Foundation1 to more than 17,000 physicians nationwide, physicians spend 21% of their time engaged in non-clinical paperwork. Given a workforce of approximately 800,000 physicians in active patient care, this equates to 168,000 physician FTEs not engaged in clinical activities.
Additionally, due to rising regulatory burdens and the growing demand for their services, 80% of the responding physicians indicate they are overextended or at capacity, with no time to see additional patients. You may ask, what are the other 20% doing correctly? Only 14% of the 80% say they have the time needed to provide the highest standards of care. Given that a majority of physicians are at or over capacity, it’s not surprising that 72% feel that external factors such as third party authorizations and higher deductibles significantly detract from providing quality of care. These factors have a profound impact on how care is delivered and received.
But how can the independent practice compete with the resources of hospitals and large health systems? A technology-enabled, integrated practice is key to solve the physician burnout and patient engagement dilemmas.
The Importance of Implementing Technology
Today the most successful and profitable independent practices rest on a foundation of office technology that allows them to work more efficiently, maintain a better work/life balance, grow their practice, reduce errors and provide an excellent patient experience.
From patient care to management of your medical practice, innovation in technology continues to prove its worth in all aspects of healthcare. As stated in Forbes,2 technology will continue to shape and change the business of healthcare both in day-to-day duties and overall patient care. Technology has worked to improve the medical field, but without a complete understanding of the integration of these technologies into a healthcare system, the value of these innovations is diminished. It’s crucial to stay up-to-date on available tools to most effectively advance your independent practice. The responsibility of implementing new technologies into your practice often falls on the office manager. Available technologies can be expensive, and the money and effort spent on acquiring these tools can go to waste if your office manager, and healthcare provider(s) alike, lacks adequate comprehension of their application or value.
The types of technologies that prove to significantly improve independent practices are becoming more readily accessible and affordable. Many have found that each of these areas have an important role to play in every element of practice success.
Let’s take a look at the third building block of integrated technologies that go into the fully-automated independent practice that will help you better manage your time and improve patient engagement and practice outcomes:
#3 Practice Management software
Practice management software brings EHR, billing, collections and scheduling capabilities together under one roof, providing an integrated platform for your office. Make sure to find a practice management software that allows users to enter and track patients, schedule and track appointments, send out insurance claims and statements as part of the collection process, process insurance, patient and third party payments and generate reports. Five areas used to improve your practice task management include:
- Scheduling & appointments. Streamline scheduling and appointment tasks with at-a-glance schedule management and scheduling tools that will help you overbook, manage waitlists and set recurring patient appointments.
- Forms. A patient kiosk allows for efficiency, as it allows your patients to take some of the workload off your staff. Find a medical office software system that has a check-in kiosk that assign forms prior to appointments via a secure patient portal. This saves precious staff time and frees up your front office workflow. With an iPad check-in kiosk, patients have the option to read, edit and sign faster than the old clipboard with photocopies and pen method.
- Payments. If you rely on paper-based payments, you’re not using your staff effectively, as paper-based billing tasks require much more work. It can take many hours of staff time to provide billing slips, collect checks and enter the billing information. An integrated billing system will guide your staff through the claims process and send alerts with balances due, and let them find copays and deductibles, from a single screen. This type of efficiency improves workflow and practice finances. If your front office isn’t managed well, it most likely creates backups in workflow, increased patient wait times and disorganization. You already know that unhappy patients don’t return or give referrals.
- Patient Portals. Online portals make it easy for patients to view some of their medical information, like review test results, schedule appointments, interact with providers via email, pay their bills and even complete auto-assigned intake forms to complete on their own time prior to the appointment. At home, they can be more thorough, checking the medicine cabinet for that drug name and dosage of which they can’t remember.
- Electronic Prescription software. ePrescription, software should be modernized by integrating with the EHR or practice management software of choice to automatically submit prescription orders and save time and reduce errors in filling medications. Patients will give you praise for the added convenience.
The latest practice management technologies can take the tasks that slow you down and automate workflow to create a smooth and seamless front office experience for your patients.
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- The Physicians Foundation. 2016 Survey of America’s Physicians Practice Patterns & Perspective, September 21, 2016.
- Lee, Ellen. 5 Ways Technology is Transforming Health Care. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bmoharrisbank/2013/01/24/5-ways-technology-is-transforming-health-care/#4a722f3026c5Forbes, January 24, 2013.