Despite the ubiquity of EMRs, today’s healthcare practices are still overloaded with paper and faxes. From the patient intake clipboard to faxed orders to appointment reminder cards, private practices are shuffling plenty of paper during a digital age — and having to manage these negative effects:
With pressures to increase patient volume and retention, healthcare practices can always benefit from streamlining their workflow and promoting a positive patient experience, whenever possible. Some of the most egregious problems exist in receiving and exchanging patient information.
Doing both effectively is required for care coordination: the easy, accurate gathering of patient demographic, clinical, and insurance data; and the ability to share it with other providers as seamlessly as possible.
Technology tools developed just for healthcare practices can bring improvements to the process that any practice should take advantage of:
The best place for any healthcare practice to begin is at patient registration or intake. Consider the advantages of moving yours from a packet of paper to an online tool.
If you hand a clipboard to a patient when they walk through the door of your practice, you’re already starting off on the wrong foot.
Instead of that patient being able to focus on the coming encounter (and for some, staying calm before they enter the exam room), they have to spend time filling out paper forms. They may have to mentally track through years of medical history, search for contact phone numbers, copy insurance card information, sign HIPAA forms, and more.
It’s not an exaggeration to say a positive patient experience is at stake. Filling out forms in the waiting area is not just a poor way to begin a visit, but it can also extend waiting time. In PatientPop patient survey research, 59 percent of patients said they begin to feel frustrated after waiting 20 minutes to see the doctor. Any opportunity you have to reduce that initial wait gives you a better chance at a satisfied patient later.
With digital patient registration, your patients receive a link before their scheduled appointment, to fill out your forms online when it’s convenient for them. Before the patient’s appointment, your practice already has the information you require, with no paper wasted in the process. (Of course, if your workflow still demands paper, you can always print one or more of your pages.)
Depending on how your front office manages intake information (attaches it to the patient record in the EMR, manually enters it into the system), there are opportunities to save administrative time. A comprehensive digital registration service allows patients to upload images, and can ensure the patient has filled in certain data fields correctly.
Letting the patient complete forms on their own time offers you greater assurances that information is accurate. You can always confirm any item when they arrive at your practice — one question or clarification is far more palatable than a packet of paper.
How many faxes does your practice send in a week? How many do you receive? Each year, the number of referrals sent to medical practices by fax is in the billions.
If your staff stands by the fax machine awaiting patient information, or has to pore through a few hours of faxes to find something they’re looking for, you’re wasting a lot more than paper. You’re wasting your staff’s time.
Across the administrative workflow, from confirming a patient appointment to getting reimbursed by the insurance payer, manual phone and fax transactions drag down medical and dental practices.
The solution comes in moving from manual transactions to more electronic transactions. Not only do the former take more time to complete, but they also cost more per activity.
A digital fax service helps bring electronic efficiency and convenience to a conventional, manual transaction. It enables your practice to send and receive faxes within a cloud-based platform, rather than a clunky, sorely outdated machine.
The practice improvements can be immediate. Your faxes display in an online panel, similar to how you might see and access your emails. The time spent running back and forth to check for a faxed referral, and then looking through a stack of pages to find it, is gone. The need to store and load (and waste) reams of paper is also gone.
The PatientPop digital fax service, part of our all-in-one practice platform, even sends timed email notifications to let providers or staff know that new faxes have been received.
The CAQH (Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare) tracks the resources required for eight different transactions that a medical practice must manage as part of the administrative workflow. Their study shows that conducting any of those transactions electronically saves a practice time and money every time the transaction occurs.
Many of those tasks are directly related to the claim and payment process. Few have to do with the connection between provider and patient. By implementing simple tools like digital registration and digital fax, you’re strengthening that connection with conveniences that benefit patients and staff. In an industry that’s notorious for using tons of paper and creating billions in waste, it’s a useful, beneficial step every practice can take.
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