At A Glance
- Medical practices can benefit from various technological tools, including care management tools such as EHRs, electronic labs, electronic prescriptions, and telehealth platforms
- Automated appointment reminders, online scheduling, patient portals, and system backup and recovery tools are critical for a patient-centric approach, leading to better patient retention and referrals
- To introduce new technological tools effectively, practices should choose trusted vendors with a proven track record and the necessary features for future growth
- Training is pivotal for a seamless transition; front-end staff should be equipped to guide patients through the new systems and address any concerns or resistance
As you start your medical practice, emerging technologies in healthcare might be on your mind. People tend to fall into 2 camps when it comes to technology: some are excited about its potential, while others feel a sense of dread comparable to surprise regulatory inspections.
Regardless of where you land on that spectrum, there is a commonality: the perception that technology can initially slow down productivity. Even so, identifying where you can gain efficiencies through technology will set you up for a medical practice that patients value and appreciate.
This article will explore the following:
- How technology empowers patient care
- The impact of technology on changing medical practices
- Essential technologies to start your medical practice
- How to implement new technological solutions
Starting a medical practice involves juggling a lot of priorities. This article will help you prioritize and establish a long-term technological toolkit for your practice.
How can emerging technology empower good patient care?
Technology in healthcare continues to advance and accelerate. Its advances go far beyond the heavily advertised impacts on pharmaceutical and surgical advances or general equipment.
It is also making practices more efficient and patient-focused. So how can you harness its power to benefit you and your patients?
More accurate diagnoses and treatment
Technological advances can make rare diagnoses easier to identify. They can help you give patients faster answers and more straightforward paths to treatment.
Effective prescription care
eRx improves prescription management, reducing the chances of a drug interaction or allergic reaction. It also allows prescribers to easily meet regulatory requirements to manage patient prescriptions, especially in ensuring that patients are less likely to receive multiple opioid prescriptions from different providers.
Electronic health records (EHRs) facilitate patient involvement through patient portals. These systems give patients anytime access to their medical information, whether looking for recent information or something from past visits.
If they include communication tools, they allow patients to ask your team a question that may preclude or necessitate a visit. You can also use them to send appointment or scheduling reminders automatically.
Less risk of burnout
Different technological solutions can lead to more and satisfying time with patients and less time on administrative tasks.
Before the appointment, digital intake saves a significant amount of administrative time spent manually transcribing data into the EHR. During the appointment, make real-time notes in the patient’s account, precluding the need to jog your memory to update patient charts retroactively. And, rather than asking redundant history questions, you can quickly refer to that particular module in the patient’s EHR to investigate how historical information may impact their current symptoms.
“Digital intake saves a significant amount of administrative time spent manually transcribing data into the EHR. During the appointment, make real-time notes in the patient’s account, precluding the need to jog your memory to update patient charts retroactively. ”
After the appointment, track the status of referrals, eRx, and eLabs from your EHR for faster collaboration with colleagues in challenging situations. Billing integrations can make submitting claims to insurance payers more efficient. The result is fewer hours of repetitive tasks for both you and your administrative staff.
What technology do you need to start your medical practice?
Using the right technology as you start your practice and transitioning to new technology as your practice evolves can come with a learning curve. However, it ultimately results in a good return on investment.
As your practice grows, new technological solutions can support its evolution. Consider some of the following.
Care management tools can make your office run much more smoothly. These include modules like:
- EHR: Securely access patient files in the cloud to easily provide telehealth and other care from multiple locations or respond to emergency requests.
- Electronic labs: eLabs create a clean line of communication between lab requests and results. Send and receive lab orders that are then associated with the patient’s record. Review information whenever you need to access it.
- Electronic prescriptions: Easily order prescriptions, including for controlled substances depending on your jurisdiction, and quickly and securely review refill requests and cancellations.
- Telehealth: Provide accessible care to those with mobility, transportation, or scheduling issues.
Billing and payments
Who can possibly keep up with all of the codes various payers require — not to mention how many of them change or get added each year? Billing software provides electronic updates of information for payers, so you don’t have to track and manually follow up with each data point.
There are a lot of administrative benefits to take advantage of with this software:
- Automatic regulatory compliance (HIPAA, etc.): Privacy isn’t just a big deal, it’s mandatory. These systems are built to be secure and to allow you to determine who has access to which modules.
- Pre-appointment insurance verification means no surprises (also a law): Patients complete their intake information forms online, creating the means to automatically verify their insurance coverage prior to their appointments.
- Increases revenue potential: Imagine having the ability to click a button to Automatically bill payers directly related to the patient’s visit, and eliminate lost records.
- Clean claim submissions: Because the payer codes are directly tied to the patient’s records, instances of rejected claims are significantly reduced, resulting in cleaner claims and faster payment.
When you improve how your patients experience their interactions with you and your staff, you increase your revenue. Happy patients refer others to their exceptional physician, resulting in a larger and stronger patient base for your practice. A few technological systems you can implement to improve the patient experience include:
- Automated appointment reminders: Your administrative staff likely spends a lot of time calling patients to remind them of their upcoming appointment. When you implement automated appointment reminders, the patient can choose their preferred method of notification, whether an SMS text message, email, or digitized phone call.
- Online scheduling: Various modules offer patient-driven online scheduling via the calendar on the patient portal. This removes the task from your staff and encourages patients to schedule as works best for them.
- Patient portal: Reduce the workload on your administrative staff. Patients can verify the date of their next appointment — or even if they need to schedule that appointment. They can also compare their lab results to those from the previous appointment, allowing them to see where they’ve made progress or those areas that need attention. This is also a method they can use to facilitate online conversations with you and your staff.
System backup and recovery
One of the greatest concerns many have when converting to a predominantly electronic environment is losing all of the data due to a system glitch or electrical outage. Cloud storage is a secure solution.
Subscribing to a cloud storage account and scheduling regular backups gives you, regulators, and patients confidence that data is secure and only available to those with permitted access.
How to implement a new technological solution
Every new medical practice needs to be efficient, especially with limited staffing. But how do you get started? If the implementation process feels huge or overwhelming, here are ways to make the process more tolerable:
Select a trusted vendor: All vendors are not created equal. When you start looking for technological solutions, first identify each module you want to implement — not just now, but in the future. Ensure the vendor you select offers all the features you want. It needs to have proven security as part of its system and customers with whom you can discuss satisfaction and comfort with the product.
Work with a project manager: Once you select a reputable vendor, it should assign a project manager to work with you during the implementation of the product and transition of the associated processes.
Transition with training: Your vendor-assigned project manager should provide training for each staff member. This training is typically conducted via video instruction, group classroom training with hands-on exercises, or one-on-one training in a “train the trainer” format. The latter results in on-site experts who are then responsible for training the rest of the staff.
This also means the patient-facing staff need to know how to teach patients about the new system, showing patients how this transition benefits and helps them. Your administrative staff also need to understand how to overcome pockets of patient resistance that is sure to make an appearance.
You can make your practice more efficient and patient-friendly
By adopting healthcare tools and technologies, your medical practice can not only support your patients but also improve how you approach the administrative tasks you and your team need to perform each day.
Although not every electronic solution will be flawless, it will significantly reduce the number of clerical errors, denied claims, and late payments your office experiences.
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Learn how to create a seamless patient experience that increases loyalty and reduces churn, while providing personalized care that drives practice growth in Tebra’s free guide to optimizing your practice.