In the digital age, medicine is no longer an industry solely dependent on mass paperwork, phone calls, and in-person meetings. The digitization of medical records, emergence of at-home connected devices, and patients’ growing familiarity with online solutions, mean that doctors have found innovative ways to organize their day-to-day tasks.
Losing track of overhead spending and failing to collect data around core metrics are just some of the reasons medical practices fail. For new doctors, these types of mistakes can mean stalling before they’ve gained any real momentum. Fortunately, practice management and optimization tools can offer a transparent overview of practice performance, as well as help scale and establish a credible presence as early as possible.
Up to 58 percent of doctors are already adopting digital health technology, and that figure is set to rise as the COVID-19 pandemic drives how technology is integrated in the medical sphere. Practice Management Software is proving to be extremely valuable in streamlining patient appointments, automating reminders, improving patient interaction, and helping practices scale. Not to mention, this can lower operational costs, allowing doctors to prioritize spending their time and energy in other areas.
Here’s how these tools can benefit doctors starting their career:
1Streamlining internal processes
According to a 2018 report from Medscape, almost a third of physicians say they spend 20 hours or more a week on administrative tasks like scheduling, billing, and documentation. In response, practice management technologies can take over tedious jobs and automate front desk operations to boost doctor’s productivity and streamline how practices function.
Patient portals give staff and patients control over how they book, reschedule, and communicate with one another. Rather than wait on hold on the phone, patients can send instant messages or add notes to their appointments, plus keep physicians updated on their progress. All information exchanged via portals is protected, so patients can securely share their contact number, address, condition summary, and insurance details. Portals can also be designed to align with a practice’s branding, facilitating greater business awareness.
Another tool consolidating admin tasks is voice-recognition software that allows staff to create and organize electronic health records verbally. Doctors can transcribe updates, fill in medical fields on reports, and convert text to data using the tool, which saves significant amounts of time and frees up doctors to see more patients. With the technology, an exam note can take less than 90 seconds, as well as lead to a 25 percent increase in patient throughput.
2Making data-informed decisions
Gone are the days of inputting numbers into extensive spreadsheets. Practice Management tools are extremely valuable to gather, process, and analyze data around KPIs, revenue cycles, reimbursements, and overall practice performance. Data is invaluable for new doctors, who can keep a close eye on organizational issues, as well as have a holistic view of practice performance.
Data empowers doctors to turn insights into action. It can span the administrative and medical side of a practice by recognizing and balancing patient and staff needs, plus can be a product of connected medical devices that report on patient progress and treatment effectiveness. Data can also be harnessed from tools that monitor patient intake, insurance claims, prescription availability, payroll, overhead costs, and much more. Incorporating such data paves the way for practices to achieve operational excellence, and ultimately, establish a competitive strategy.
Data management tools typically integrate with existing systems, so don’t require a completely new infrastructure. They can also work with algorithms for predictive analysis, making future assumptions based on existing data patterns. For instance, algorithms can generate projections about expenditure in upcoming months, helping practices to budget accordingly.
3Collecting patient feedback
A patient’s experience with a doctor, staff member or general institution can determine how great a practice is. Often, however, patient feedback is overlooked, as high volumes of patients and low employee numbers make it difficult to review and make clear improvement plans based on the patient feedback. Nonetheless, patient satisfaction should be considered a significant parameter for measuring efficiency in a new medical practice.
Care evaluations reveal any gaps that need to be bridged in order to improve services in a practice. Digital management tools have features that enable feedback collection in real-time and in a user-friendly manner. In-platform notifications, chatbots, feedback apps, interactive surveys, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integration are just a handful of the solutions to get in-depth, more qualitative responses.
These tools can equally alert medical staff if any negative feedback is submitted, meaning they can take steps to rectify the situation as soon as possible. The comments can also be stored electronically in patients’ files, so doctors are informed about historic satisfaction levels when preparing for a consultation with them. Alternatively, doctors can utilize positive feedback for marketing purposes – displaying comments or case studies on the practice’s website.
4Reducing human errors
Errors cost the medical sphere up to $20 billion every year, and for doctors who are just launching their career, errors are fatal in both a literal and figurative sense.
Management tools play a big role in reducing human error in patient records or general practice organization. For example, software that dispenses electronic prescriptions overcomes issues associated with illegible handwriting and enables doctors to send prescriptions directly to pharmacies. Doctors can archive these prescriptions in a database, where they can identify what their most common prescriptions are in order to process refill requests faster. Such software also benefits patients by flagging any potential risks in the prescription – for example, if the patient is allergic to a drug or if they are already taking medication that will nullify the effects.
Elsewhere, management tools can aid practices in being compliant with required healthcare protocols like vendor risk management and HIPAA audits. Compliance is a notoriously complex and expensive pursuit, and practices have to ensure that they complete formal documents accurately, as mistakes can be time and resource-consuming. To help, management tools can provide an inventory of approved vendors, a checklist for HIPAA regulation, internal audit apps, and cybersecurity simulations. By easing the burden of compliance for staff, the protection of health information is not jeopardized by human error and there won’t be any surprise legal blocks for the practice.
Any new doctor understands how important the early days of their career are. Not only do they have to build a solid reputation, they also have to balance building a healthcare practice brand while working in a high-stress environment. Resources that maintain that balance are what ultimately accelerate doctors’ personal reputation, as well as the growth of their medical practice.
Practice Management tools are critical to run a productive and profitable practice, and have become increasingly more sophisticated as software updates and iterations are released. From streamlining processes, leveraging data, improving patient outcomes, and automating front desk operations, practice management tools are modernizing new doctors and their careers ahead.
Sudhir Bhatti is the CEO and Co-founder of GrowthPlug: an optimization platform to help doctors automate their practice, Sudhir has more than 14+ years of experience across product management, marketing, and engineering across different industries, focusing on: Product messaging, Sales Enablement, Product roadmap and Organic traffic.