When it comes to embracing new technology, some doctors aren’t always as welcoming as others. They’re either too comfortable with doing things the usual way, or they just aren’t sure how reliable this new technology is. In the meantime, the practice misses out on the opportunity to connect with patients who would prefer to use automated, self-serve systems to manage their healthcare.
This doesn’t mean you should fire nurses and employ robots to care for the patients, but you should be actively seeking ways to inject useful tech into the daily management of your practice. Here are five tech upgrades you can make right away to get that started.
Electronic Forms Management
Create an electronic version of forms that you use on a regular basis, and make them available on your website. This includes documents like new patient questionnaires, basic demographic sheets, insurance verification forms, and Medicare or Medicaid forms.
The benefit of making these available online is so that the customer can complete paperwork prior to their visit, and submit them electronically to your practice. This not only saves time registering new patients, but also gives them the opportunity to complete the forms at their leisure. They will have ample time to gather the information that you need to get these documents completed correctly, which means they’re less likely to omit information.
Customer Service Live Chat
Adding live chat assistance to your website is an effective way to communicate with tech savvy patients. Most people will use this feature for simple inquiries like verifying appointment times, researching office hours, or inquiring about insurance acceptance. For those who prefer not to pick up the phone and call the office, live chat is a godsend and well appreciated.
This feature can also save time spent answering simple calls in the office. An employee who is already online can quickly address these issues without having to leave the computer system.
Another benefit of adding a live chat feature is that you can monitor the types of inquiries that patients have, and address them more efficiently with your website. For instance, you can quantify the number of times a person asks about office hours, and determine whether to add that information to your home page in addition to the contact page.
Live chat technology is highly affordable and available through several different third party services. Some of the more popular ones include Zendesk, Freshdesk and LiveChat.
Electronic Records Management
If this isn’t available as part of your practice management system, you should definitely offer electronic records management to your patients. This technology gives them access to medical records online, and the ability to view information like appointments, clinical history, and prescriptions. Besides the fact that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates physicians to adopt an EHR system, you should want to implement electronic records as a convenience to your patients.
Most physicians have already done so, as a recent study shows 87% of office based doctors have implemented some form of EHR system. If you’re part of the 13% that has yet to become compliant, there’s still time. You could have a custom-built EHR system for your practice, or employ software from several reliable solutions like Epic and Mc Kesson.
Self Check In Kiosk
Self-check-in kiosks aren’t just reserved for large healthcare systems. Small and mid-sized practices can benefit from this technology as well. Save time by allowing the patient to check themselves in with a few simple questions, and reassign that extra front desk staffer to a more important task.
Some physicians are reluctant about utilizing self-check-in kiosks because they’re unsure whether or not the patients will understand how to use them. Rest assured that these systems are user-friendly and give each patient step by step directions on exactly what to do when they approach the device. For patients who aren’t comfortable with the technology, you can always offer the option to check in with a front desk clerk. Just be sure to remind them that the kiosk is faster and just as efficient.
Text Message/ SMS Reminders
Another great addition for your tech upgrades would be to offer text message or SMS reminders. This could be for appointments or any upcoming events happening at your practice that you want patients to know about. In order to be successful with this, you would need to collect the patient’s mobile numbers during registration. Also, make sure that you only send important, pertinent information, as you don’t want to abuse the privilege of being able to communicate with your patients via text message.
It’s wonderful to have the capability to communicate with your patients online and via text message, but it’s not at all beneficial unless your patients know how to use this technology. After you get things set up, add some training documents with basic instructions to a special page on your website.
Videos and Handouts
You could also create training videos to better explain how the technology works, and give live demonstrations on how to use it. The videos could be posted to your website, or to your practice YouTube channel. Have small packets printed out for patients who prefer a more traditional way to look over the material.
This may seem like a lot of extra work, and for the most part, it is. But it’s an integral part of transitioning your practice and encouraging patients to use technology that will ultimately make your business run more smoothly. If time is an issue, hire a part-time staffer or freelancer to handle the patient education piece for each additional tech upgrade.
Also, keep in mind that you may have some patients who are just not interested in using this technology, and you should make them feel comfortable knowing that they can still do things the traditional way if they so choose.
Upgrading the technology in your practice can help make things easier for staff members, and give your tech-savvy patients access to information without the need to speak with someone directly in the office. As automation continues to infiltrate the healthcare industry, more and more patients will come to expect these conveniences as a normal part of doing business. If you’re not already using some of these systems, now is a great time to start.