I say this with probably every article I write…we work in an industry that changes fast. The post-pandemic, consumer-focused, competitive world of providing care to patients is quickly driving practices to change how they work. We’re seeing more healthcare organizations awaken to the investment in and use of tools and services that many commercial business use to improve efficiencies, automate manual tasks, compete for and retain customers, and generate profitable revenue. While identifying a need, finding a solution, and committing to purchase are critical first steps, the most important thing is how to integrate a new tool or service into your business. Integrating a new “thing” into your practice takes a bit of planning and communication. But, without that preparation and staff engagement, your success could be lackluster.
With that said, let’s take a look at some of the best practices commercial businesses do when implementing change. Below is an example of how you and your staff could approach solving some of your current challenges with the implementation of something new.
Best Practices for Implementing New “Things”
- Start with what you’re trying to solve: Patients and staff are reluctant to fill out pages of paperwork in the waiting room and touching the germy pen and clipboard. Your staff then has to enter all the info into the PM and/or EMR so it’s available in the system. Patients are asking for a way to complete forms on their mobile phone. You need patients and staff to feel safe. You want to provide options your patients are asking for that will also result in practice efficiencies by reducing the amount of time and potential for data entry error with manual data.
- Start with what you want to improve: Give patients and staff a tool that makes it safer, easier, quicker, more accurate to complete required forms prior to their appointment; determine some success metrics, like how much time is saved on data entry, patient feedback on the new option, less time spent in the waiting room, how much the savings are worth, etc.
- Identify what tools or services exist to solve that challenge: A digital patient check in solution with mobile form completion prior to a visit that pushes documents and/or data into your PM so the info is there when the patient comes in the door with options to upload their insurance card and identification and to pay their co-pay.
- Identify someone to explore options: Assign someone to contact MicroMD to explore options; most often we offer integration into your PM/EMR software for a more seamless experience than a standalone solution.
- Engage staff: Once you’ve found a solution and are committed to purchase, communicate the project to staff to get buy in, excitement, and ideas for how to make that work. Ask for their help to plan how it will work, changes to staff responsibilities and tasks, as well as changes for patients and how to communicate the new tool to patients.
- Plan with staff: As a team, plan for what would change. Document and communicate the changes. Identify someone to lead the implementation between MicroMD, the solution vendor, and the practice. What things change? Need to alter patient schedules knowing they won’t have to sit to fill out paperwork in the waiting room? When would staff review and accept the patient form data they submitted? Who would do that? And when? How do you get co-pays posted back into the PM? Need to save insurance card and ID images in the patient record? How do you promote the change to patients? Who needs to be trained to use it? Who will update your website to add the new online option? Or direct patients to an app to download? Who will be the point person to answer “How to” questions from patients? How you’ll capture data for your success metrics? Come up with a project plan that includes people, plans, and timelines.
- Implement: Now comes the time to work with your vendor on implementation. Complete any steps for the setup / customization. Schedule training. Make sure people are attending the training. Train on new responsibilities and task changes with staff and patients. Do some internal trial runs. Or a trial with a few patients to work out the kinks. Launch it with your patients. Start using it. Monitor that staff are using it in the ways agreed on. Get patient and staff feedback.
- Measure: For the success metrics you identified, look at the data. Analyze it for perfection or opportunities to improve.
- Tweak: Are you hitting the mark on your metrics? Are people doing what they need to be doing at the right time? Do patients appreciate the service? If so, communicate the good news. Thank your patients for using it. Consider what you could do to get even better; maybe that is purchasing additional features or expanding to implement other technologies to more areas of your practice. If not, consider how to improve the solution and make adjustments. Maybe some retraining is needed for both patients and staff. Or change how you support patients using the solution. Keep measuring and monitoring for perfection or improvement.
If you’re seeing success, try another “thing”! Maybe e-Prescribing of Controlled Substances (EPCS) for your providers. Or, perhaps, patient marketing and doctor reputation management solutions to attract and retain patients from the competition. Maybe even remote patient monitoring tools to help patients stay on track with their care plans and for providers to get more frequent clues into how a patient is doing before they end up in the ER. Or, you could try video visits to give patients and provider more flexibility.
New “things” take work to make them successful, but if you work on getting good at implementing and managing change within your practice, you’re building a solid foundation for success and the confidence to continue evolving and competing.
I encourage you to take a look at our Solutions Central Marketplace to see what tools and services MicroMD offers to help you solve your most challenging issues. Or contact your Solutions Specialist to learn more.
About the author,
Kristen is the general manager of Henry Schein MicroMD. She leads the operational teams that conceive, develop, launch, sell, implement, train and support the simple yet powerful MicroMD solutions.
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