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September 21, 2022 3 min read
Patient management can be a full-time job in itself, but it’s critical to the success of your clinic and its patients. That’s why it’s important to look at clinic setup in terms of patient management. What you want is to make sure that information flows unimpeded through your clinic so that staff and (most importantly) clinicians can easily find what they need when they need it. The tips below will help you streamline the way you manage your patients and keep everything running smoothly from start to finish.
One of the best ways to make managing patients easier is to collect or send information in advance of appointments. Use a templated secure message to provide instructions for any types of procedures, or simply to inform the patient how to arrive, where to park, or any other relevant policies you need them to know. A similar process can be used to have patients prefill and return intake forms. Staff can paste these into the patient record to make registration contactless and get complaint details where the doctor can see them - no need for double entry. You will have everything ready to go for when the patient comes in, and they'll be better prepared for a productive appointment.
Most clinic support staff spend a lot of time on manual repetitive tasks that do not directly provide benefits for the patient or the clinician. Help staff be more productive by eliminating tasks such as processing mail (stuffing envelopes) and using the fax machine. Secure messaging can be used instead, and it is much more efficient from a time and cost perspective.
Simply removing these tasks can have a positive impact on staff satisfaction. Studies show that low-value and repetitive tasks increase stress. Taking the wasted labour out of their day lets staff take ownership of special projects, be more present when dealing with patients, and gives them opportunities to grow professionally, which, in turn, benefits clinic operations. Not to mention, when you slow the pace a little bit, and staff aren't always distracted, there's more time to pay attention to privacy compliance.
One of the most impactful ways to improve patient management is refining your referral process. The old method of fax-and-forget increases wait times for specialist opinions and delays access to care. The associated manual processes for follow up put unnecessary burden on staff time.
To simplify referral management, replace fax and mail with secure messaging. Your clinic will immediately reduce spend on paper, toner, and stamps. Secure messaging systems with a read receipt feature also close the communications loop with the touch of a button instead of phone calls and hold music. Staff will be as much as 75% faster in preparing referrals and there will be a traceable message thread that can be included in the patient record.
On the receiving end, referrals received via secure message with all the appropriate attachments can help triage patients more quickly and weed-out cases that weren't sent to the right line. Specialist clinics following this process have increased access to care by as much as 93%.
Phone calls take up too much staff time. Dead end phone calls for booking, follow up and reminders add stress to the staff workday. Even though it’s seen as part of the job, the interruptions of unscheduled calls from patients harm productivity. When your clinic phone lines are too busy, patients give up trying to access your services and find other ways to get the care they need.
Providing patients with the option of asynchronous secure messaging has been shown to reduce clinic phone traffic by as much as 30%. Secure messages can be more complete than voicemail messages and are immediately actionable. Patients also naturally understand that email like messages won't be responded to immediately so staff can schedule time throughout the day to address messages appropriately. The reduction in phone traffic means more patients can get through when needed and staff productivity goes up with fewer interruptions.
Patients can take on some of the work to make your clinic more efficient. This includes filling in pre-appointment forms and questionnaires or even providing focus questions prior to an appointment to support more effective and efficient consultations. Collecting forms in advance further leads to more on time appointments. Providing patients with appointment preparation information and instructions will also help them show up prepared.
Finally, following up after each visit will ensure that everything was handled properly and allow you to follow up with any outstanding issues or questions they may have - a process that can have positive improvement on treatment adherence.
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