Efficiency is Important in All Businesses, Even Medical Practices
For example, the change from paper charts to EHR/EMR, one most practices have undergone by now, required a large investment of time on top of the financial cost to implement the software in the first place. These costs of time and money are likely the most significant challenges to automation, particularly with the need to standardize processes before they can be effectively automated, but there’s also the overall resistance to change. It’s easy to fall into continuing on in a process that’s comfortable, even if you know deep down there’s a better way. You’re up and running, so if it ain’t broke, why fix it, right?
The reality, though, is that it is broke. And while automating manual processes come at the price of time, money, and training, the benefits your practice will see from undergoing this process far outweigh the costs. Essentially, by investing the time and money now, you will see amazing dividends moving forward as your practice operates more efficiently than ever before.
Automation is a Necessity
When we address automation of manual processes in the medical field, we’re talking about the time consuming tasks that keep your staff busy and away from more vital, patient facing work. Continuing to perform these tasks manually costs your practice money whether you realize it or not, simply by the labor costs from how much longer they take as compared to when they’re automated. The ability to run a practice efficiently is paramount in the medical field as it adds to a practice’s ability to provide outstanding patient care and see the best possible health outcomes. Additionally, some automation is necessary in order to simply function in the healthcare industry as it stands today. For example, EHR/EMR is necessary for reporting in the Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and a Practice Management system is necessary to process claims and get paid in a timely manner.
Aside from all of this, the reality is that physicians are busier now than ever before and that alone necessitates automation. 90% of physicians report seeing 11 or more patients per day, with the majority of these physicians seeing between 11 and 30 patients daily. That’s a lot of patients in an eight hour day, requiring a lot of attention and thought from not just the doctors themselves, but their support staff as well. Additionally, more than 60% of physicians report behind in their appointment schedule at least several times per week, if not daily. When asked what would help them improve their efficiency, 43% of physicians site better technology, such as automation, as the thing that would make the difference.
Automation Makes Medicine Better
Technology is driving the healthcare industry forward in every way, from improving the patient experience to enhancing medical procedures. Efficiency like never before is possible thanks to automation, allowing patients to receive better care as staff are able to transition their focus away from the clerical work that used to consume their days. With automation, practices see improved productivity, enhanced patient experience, and greater precision in diagnostics. Patients fare better in practices that embrace automation and physicians are better positioned to do their best work when operational efficiency is realized. It truly is a win-win.
Large FQHC Facing Patient Communication Challenges
One practice, a large Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), was facing challenges regarding communication with their patients, an issue that led to as many as 200 patients who didn’t return for necessary follow-ups each month. This led to not only lost revenue and wasted staff time, but also the potential for health issues in the patients due to the lack of a follow-up. At first they tried to improve the situation by communicating with patients through snail mail and phone calls, but that took up a lot of time and only proved to be of minimal help.
So the FQHC decided to automate the process and emphasize communication through a patient portal and email, allowing them to satisfy regulatory requirements and reach their patients more consistently. Because they do have a large population of economically disadvantaged patients, there was some concern about the ability of the patients to access this portal, but they resolved that by allowing for access both from home and through iPads installed in the practice.
This has proven to offer much better communication between the practice staff and its patient population, allowing for the care team to reach patients more reliably and opening the lines of communication more fully without adding to the staff’s already substantial workload. Allowing for this bit of automation has revolutionized how the practice operates and solved the issues it was suffering by operating manually.
Improve Efficiency Through Automation
There are myriad ways a practice can see improvement in its operational efficiency through the use of automation. Documentation is one area that providers often complain about as taking too much time. Using a dictation software can speed up the process and allow for more streamlined documentation, saving provider frustration and allowing clinicians to focus more fully on their patients during encounters.
Front desk staff often spend a lot of time on patient intake, time that they could be using for other vital tasks. And good luck finding a patient who enjoys sitting in the waiting room with a clipboard, wracking their brain to remember their health history on the spot. By automating the patient intake process, though, you can save your front desk that time consuming task as well as satisfy your patients as they are able to fill out that demographic and health history information at their leisure from home before they even come in for their appointment. Even better, it’s likely that you’ll be able to have the information import directly to your EHR/EMR, saving even more staff time.
The billing process is one of the most important in your practice, an area where human error can cost you a lot of money. By automating your Revenue Cycle Management (RCM) you can see less errors and get paid more efficiently. Make the situation even better by enabling online patient payments so that your patients can make their payments conveniently and your staff can spend less time making those frustrating and time consuming collection calls.
Implementing these types of automations in your practice will improve not just your practice’s efficiency, but also the continuum of care for your patients. With the time consuming clerical tasks automated, your staff can focus more fully on providing the utmost in patient care. The information that clinical staff needs for care decisions will be more readily accessible, referrals can be orchestrated more seamlessly, and your staff will be less stressed and rushed, something that is better for everyone involved.
MicroMD is Ready to Help Your Practice Reimagine Care Delivery
Automation isn’t something you have to do on your own and MicroMD can help your practice to deliver quality care while automating those manual processes that reduce efficiency. With MicroMD EMR and DMS you will no longer need any paper charts, allowing you to go fully digital and be prepared for the other amazing resources that are out there such as Dragon Medical One Cloud Voice Recognition software so that you can speed up and automate documentation with the power of your voice.
MicroMD ePayments, powered by Worldpay, helps to automate the payment process by allowing your patients to pay online on their time. Speaking of billing, MicroMD PM with integration to any of our preferred clearinghouse vendors enables RCM automation to get you paid efficiently and without seeing costly errors. And MicroMD makes patient intake seamless with Patient Intake powered by Chadis to automate the process, saving your staff time and eliminating the time spent with those annoying waiting room clipboards that all patients dread.
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Medical Office Efficiency Resources
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