Want More Patients? Be on Time!

Originally published on March 12, 2017 at www.lmshealthpro.com.

By Kristen Brady

Do you want more patients? It’s possible to easily do this by simply making the commitment to be on-time as a physician. This post provides you practical tips to make you an on-time physician which will assist in generating more patients for your practice.
Are you able to imagine the response of the patient who was forced to wait:

  • 6 weeks to get an appointment
  • 1 hour in the reception room to see the medical assistant or PA,
  • One additional hour to see the physician who spends under 5 minutes with a patient,
  • 2 more weeks to get an imaging study or lab work,
  • An additional 2 weeks to assess the results with a patient, and, lastly
  • several more weeks to get insurance authorization for medicine, or for a procedure that was medically necessary?

 

A physician may create an on-time philosophy by committing to get to the office 15 to 20 minutes prior to seeing patients at 9 AM. It’s the time to have a short meeting with your staff. Make sure that all of the reports are inside the EMR, that patients who have special needs are immediately taken care of, and all emergency or urgent calls be made prior to seeing patients.
The team knows that the physician is on time and is going to be placing patients inside a room before 9 AM in order for the patient and doctor to start the day in a timely manner.
I then recommend that all practices reserve a 15 to 20-minute slot each afternoon and every morning. These are for all emergencies, urgencies, or new patients who have to be seen on the exact same day. The slot can’t be provided to any other person, yet is reserved for any last minute cases which are common in many practices.
For more details contact Leading Management Solutions at (407) 674-1916.

 

Leading Management Solutions helps medical practice leaders identify ways to improve operations to increase revenue, employee engagement, and patient satisfaction. Learn more about us at www.lmshealthpro.com.

About the Author:

Kristen Brady is the founder and owner of Kaboom Social Media, your social media marketing and content specialists! Follow her on Twitter: @kb54927

Shortage of Primary Care Physicians and the Rise of Midlevel Providers

Originally published on August 21, 2016 at www.lmshealthpro.com.  By Sonda Eunus, MHA

Since the passing of the ACA, the healthcare workforce has dealt with an immense influx of newly insured patients requiring medical attention. It is estimated that 32 million people will be newly insured by 2019 as a result of the ACA (Carrier, Stark, & Yee, 2011). There is a gross inadequacy in professional healthcare worker distribution across different healthcare settings which may leave our nation ill-prepared for this new patient population. The biggest discrepancy exists in the fact that specialists outnumber general practitioners by nearly two to one (Barton, 2010). Whereas this trend is supported by the increased reimbursement rates received by specialists, it actually negatively affects the healthcare workforce by encouraging the emergence of specialists when in reality generalists are more direly needed. The ACA attempts to make up for these discrepancies by establishing incentives for primary care practitioners. An estimated $3.5 billion was invested by the ACA into the primary care provider bonus from 2011-2016, in which Medicare paid a 10% bonus over the established physician fee schedule for general care provided by primary care physicians, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, or physician assistants practicing family medicine, internal medicine, geriatrics, or pediatrics (Stone & Bryant, 2012).

 

One way in which primary care practices have been making up for this shortage of physicians is by utilizing physician extenders such as advanced nurse practitioners and physician assistants. The increasing independence and scope of practice of these midlevel providers also make these healthcare professionals a valuable resource that may help increase access to primary care. These midlevel providers often perform duties which overlap with those of physicians, including assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of patients, and both practice with “considerable clinical autonomy” (Morgan, Short, & Strand De Oliveira, 2011). Whereas the utilization of these midlevel providers in combined workforce planning appears to be part of the solution to the physician shortage, it has met several barriers in practice. These barriers include “lack of data on some professions, professional interest in protecting turf, competing agendas, and entrenched habits of state bureaucracies and professional organizations” (Morgan, Short, & Strand De Oliveira, 2011).

 

In the state of Florida, these midlevel providers have not yet achieved “full practice” status. Currently 21 states and the District of Columbia have granted nurse practitioners such freedom. In those full-practice states, NPs can treat patients independently, as well as open their own practices without physician supervision (Simmons, 2015). One crippling limitation on the nurse practitioner’s scope of practice in Florida is that she cannot prescribe controlled medications, and for that reason only physicians can see patients with complex mental health or behavioral issues in our pediatric primary care practice. Reimbursement rates for services rendered by midlevel providers are 80% of the physician fee schedule. However, considering the fact that these midlevel providers’ salaries are approximately half that of a physician, as well as that there are many more midlevel candidates than physician candidates applying for positions, hiring midlevel providers may be one of the best solutions to combating the current shortage of primary care physicians and increasing patient access to care. Additionally, areas that have shortages of primary care, dental, or mental health providers are designated as Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). Practices in those designated HPSA areas can qualify as National Health Service Corps (NHSC) sites, and healthcare providers employed by them then become eligible for student loan forgiveness. Our site is a designated NHSC site, and we have a great advantage in recruiting midlevel providers seeking loan repayment.

 

In conclusion, efforts must be made to encourage the education of more general practitioners, be they physicians, physician assistants, or nurse practitioners. The demand for these general healthcare professionals will only increase, and we need to be well-prepared to provide these services to the growing patient population. By involving midlevel practitioners in workforce planning and utilizing them at the peak of their education and productivity, physicians will be freed from these duties and therefore will be made available to tackle more complex cases which require their extended physician education and expertise. It is therefore crucial that the remaining states, including Florida, that have not yet granted midlevel providers “full practice” status reevaluate their decisions in order to increase patient access to greatly needed quality medical care.

 

Leading Management Solutions helps medical practice leaders identify ways to improve operations to increase revenue, employee engagement, and patient satisfaction. Learn more about us at www.lmshealthpro.com.

About the Author:

Sonda Eunus is the Founder and CEO of Leading Management Solutions, a healthcare management consulting company (www.lmshealthpro.com). Along with a team of experienced and knowledgeable consultants, she works with healthcare practice managers to improve practice operations, train employees, increase practice revenue, and much more. She holds a Masters in Healthcare Management and a BA in Psychology.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sonda-eunus-6895067b

 

 

Beyond EHR: How to Use Technology to Improve Patient Care

Originally published on June 20, 2016 at www.lmshealthpro.com.  By Kristen Brady

The use of technology in the medical profession has grown substantially over the past decade, yet many private practice physicians are not using the technology as extensively as they should. Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) required doctors throughout the country to begin implementing electronic health records (EHR), many private practices have not moved beyond recording patient treatments and test results in an electronic format. There are many new technologies available that provide patients with improved care. In addition, technology offers private practice doctors, nurses and administrators time-saving techniques that may allow more time working with patients and less time dealing with paperwork.

Real-Time Locating Systems

Hospitals have used real-time location systems (RTLS) to track mobile equipment for some time but it has recently begun to see use in private practice as well. Locator badges can be attached to staff ID badges, mobile equipment and even patient charts in an effort to improve the patient experience. The information from patient charts can be used to determine wait times and bottlenecks in the practice in order to improve times patients must wait to see a doctor. Equipment that must be moved from room-to-room in the practice can easily be tracked with the click of a mouse. The system can be used to monitor the amount of time staff spends on a certain task or identify areas where too much time is spent on administrative tasks rather than patient service.

Advanced Entertainment Systems

When patients must wait in an examination room for a physician to arrive, they rarely want to spend the time flipping through outdated magazines. Advanced entertainment systems are available that can occupy the patient as they wait and take their mind off any procedures that are impending. One of the best aspects of advanced entertainment systems is the availability of education videos that can be delivered directly to an exam room with details about any procedure that the patient may need to undergo. This is especially helpful for delivering instructions on after-treatment care although written instructions should still be provided.

Computerized Physician Order Entry

Although it is part of the EHR, computerized physician order entry actually adds another layer to the patient experience. Doctors are able to issue prescription and lab tests digitally. This eliminates errors associated with handwritten orders. Because the electronic records can be cross referenced, any orders that appear extreme or prescriptions that may interact with other medications. There have been studies that indicate computerized physician order entry can reduce medication errors by as much as 55 percent.

Mobile Apps

Over 75 percent of millennials feel that their doctor should offer them a mobile app to manage their care. There are many private practice apps available that will allow doctors to interact with their patients through their smartphone. Patients can schedule and confirm appointments, make payments and receive secure messages no matter where they are. There are even apps that allow patients to send photos of medical conditions like rashes or swollen joints, allowing healthcare practitioners the ability to determine if they need to be seen immediately or there are over-the-counter options available to resolve the problem.

Patient Portals

Patient portals are secure websites that allow patients to access their EHR from their home computer, smartphone or tablet. Portals work similar to apps in that patients can schedule, reschedule or confirm appointments, make payments and refill prescriptions without the need for a phone call. Patient portals are linked to the EHR so that patients can access test results, examination findings or other information they may need as part of their health record. In some cases, patients who have been referred to specialists may obtain copies of x-rays, MRI results or tests so they have them available the specialist’s appointment. Patient portals have shown to be particularly beneficial to patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Because patients can interact with the physician in real-time, management of chronic illnesses is much more effective especially when combined with a behavior change program.

Cloud-Based Technology

In a recent survey, 58 percent of patients said that technology improves their experience with their doctor. At least five percent said that if their physician offered digital communication technology, they would be more likely to reach out to them and 46% would feel more at-ease asking questions. In addition, 43 percent said they would feel less rushed when asking questions if they could use digital technology. The use of telemedicine has also shown better patient experience. Doctors and patients can use two-way video, secure electronic communications and smartphones to discuss health-related issues. Doctors are also using telemedicine to monitor vital signs and to reach patients in rural settings who may have difficulty visiting the office. Because telemedicine allows for interaction between doctors and patients more quickly than an office visit, diagnosis and treatment can begin more quickly as well. For patients with chronic or long-term illnesses, the availability of home monitoring reduces the number of office visits and allows the patient to be more proactive in their care.

Hands Free Technology

There are many options for hands-free technology that allow physicians and nurses to record patient information without entering it through a keyboard, mouse or writing it down to be entered later. The patient and doctor can interact as the information is being entered. This also saves time that can be spent with the patient without overlapping other patient times. Doctors using hands-free devices have reported as much as a 70 percent increase in patient care.

Self-Check-In Kiosks

Patients have reported satisfaction with self-check-in kiosks at doctor’s offices that allow them to check in for an appointment and pay co-pays using a credit card. Kiosks take just over a minute and a half to check in a patient while manual check-ins take as much as three minutes. Doctors who have implemented such kiosks have reported a 96 percent increase in patient satisfaction. However, it is important to keep manual check-in available for patients who are not comfortable using the kiosk or who must pay cash for their co-payments.

Paperwork Reduction

With patient health records stored online, paperwork can be significantly reduced. However, many doctors are still requiring patients to complete paper forms that must be then entered into the computer system by an office employee or nurse. Patients must complete medical histories that include details about prescriptions, surgeries and medical issues they have faced in the past. They must provide insurance information and inform the doctor of family histories that could affect their own treatment. Technology now allows doctors to create online forms that the patient can complete from the comfort of their own home before they ever visit the doctor’s office. This allows the patient to take their time, gather information that pertains to their health and respond more thoroughly than through a paper checklist they attempt to complete while sitting in the waiting room. Patients can also update any information routinely by accessing forms through the patient portal so that the office always has the most current information as well as any changes to the patient’s health.

Although electronic health records are becoming standard in all private practices due to the Affordable Care Act, there are many other technologies available for private practices that are designed to improve patient experience. Many of the options are relatively inexpensive while others can be included with other forms of technology, such as patient record programs or cloud-based technology. By improving the technology in a private practice, physicians will find better patient satisfaction, the ability to spend more time with patients in a one-on-one situation and less stress for their staff as procedures are streamlined at the administrative level.

Leading Management Solutions helps medical practice leaders identify ways to improve operations to increase revenue, employee engagement, and patient satisfaction. Learn more about us at www.lmshealthpro.com.

 

About the Author:

Kristen Brady is the founder and owner of Kaboom Social Media, your social media marketing and content specialists! Follow her on Twitter: @kb54927

Beyond EHR: How to Use Technology to Improve Patient Care

Originally published on June 20, 2016 at www.lmshealthpro.com.  By Kristen Brady

The use of technology in the medical profession has grown substantially over the past decade, yet many private practice physicians are not using the technology as extensively as they should. Although the Affordable Care Act (ACA) required doctors throughout the country to begin implementing electronic health records (EHR), many private practices have not moved beyond recording patient treatments and test results in an electronic format. There are many new technologies available that provide patients with improved care. In addition, technology offers private practice doctors, nurses and administrators time-saving techniques that may allow more time working with patients and less time dealing with paperwork.

Real-Time Locating Systems

Hospitals have used real-time location systems (RTLS) to track mobile equipment for some time but it has recently begun to see use in private practice as well. Locator badges can be attached to staff ID badges, mobile equipment and even patient charts in an effort to improve the patient experience. The information from patient charts can be used to determine wait times and bottlenecks in the practice in order to improve times patients must wait to see a doctor. Equipment that must be moved from room-to-room in the practice can easily be tracked with the click of a mouse. The system can be used to monitor the amount of time staff spends on a certain task or identify areas where too much time is spent on administrative tasks rather than patient service.

Advanced Entertainment Systems

When patients must wait in an examination room for a physician to arrive, they rarely want to spend the time flipping through outdated magazines. Advanced entertainment systems are available that can occupy the patient as they wait and take their mind off any procedures that are impending. One of the best aspects of advanced entertainment systems is the availability of education videos that can be delivered directly to an exam room with details about any procedure that the patient may need to undergo. This is especially helpful for delivering instructions on after-treatment care although written instructions should still be provided.

Computerized Physician Order Entry

Although it is part of the EHR, computerized physician order entry actually adds another layer to the patient experience. Doctors are able to issue prescription and lab tests digitally. This eliminates errors associated with handwritten orders. Because the electronic records can be cross referenced, any orders that appear extreme or prescriptions that may interact with other medications. There have been studies that indicate computerized physician order entry can reduce medication errors by as much as 55 percent.

Mobile Apps

Over 75 percent of millennials feel that their doctor should offer them a mobile app to manage their care. There are many private practice apps available that will allow doctors to interact with their patients through their smartphone. Patients can schedule and confirm appointments, make payments and receive secure messages no matter where they are. There are even apps that allow patients to send photos of medical conditions like rashes or swollen joints, allowing healthcare practitioners the ability to determine if they need to be seen immediately or there are over-the-counter options available to resolve the problem.

Patient Portals

Patient portals are secure websites that allow patients to access their EHR from their home computer, smartphone or tablet. Portals work similar to apps in that patients can schedule, reschedule or confirm appointments, make payments and refill prescriptions without the need for a phone call. Patient portals are linked to the EHR so that patients can access test results, examination findings or other information they may need as part of their health record. In some cases, patients who have been referred to specialists may obtain copies of x-rays, MRI results or tests so they have them available the specialist’s appointment. Patient portals have shown to be particularly beneficial to patients with chronic illnesses such as diabetes. Because patients can interact with the physician in real-time, management of chronic illnesses is much more effective especially when combined with a behavior change program.

Cloud-Based Technology

In a recent survey, 58 percent of patients said that technology improves their experience with their doctor. At least five percent said that if their physician offered digital communication technology, they would be more likely to reach out to them and 46% would feel more at-ease asking questions. In addition, 43 percent said they would feel less rushed when asking questions if they could use digital technology. The use of telemedicine has also shown better patient experience. Doctors and patients can use two-way video, secure electronic communications and smartphones to discuss health-related issues. Doctors are also using telemedicine to monitor vital signs and to reach patients in rural settings who may have difficulty visiting the office. Because telemedicine allows for interaction between doctors and patients more quickly than an office visit, diagnosis and treatment can begin more quickly as well. For patients with chronic or long-term illnesses, the availability of home monitoring reduces the number of office visits and allows the patient to be more proactive in their care.

Hands Free Technology

There are many options for hands-free technology that allow physicians and nurses to record patient information without entering it through a keyboard, mouse or writing it down to be entered later. The patient and doctor can interact as the information is being entered. This also saves time that can be spent with the patient without overlapping other patient times. Doctors using hands-free devices have reported as much as a 70 percent increase in patient care.

Self-Check-In Kiosks

Patients have reported satisfaction with self-check-in kiosks at doctor’s offices that allow them to check in for an appointment and pay co-pays using a credit card. Kiosks take just over a minute and a half to check in a patient while manual check-ins take as much as three minutes. Doctors who have implemented such kiosks have reported a 96 percent increase in patient satisfaction. However, it is important to keep manual check-in available for patients who are not comfortable using the kiosk or who must pay cash for their co-payments.

Paperwork Reduction

With patient health records stored online, paperwork can be significantly reduced. However, many doctors are still requiring patients to complete paper forms that must be then entered into the computer system by an office employee or nurse. Patients must complete medical histories that include details about prescriptions, surgeries and medical issues they have faced in the past. They must provide insurance information and inform the doctor of family histories that could affect their own treatment. Technology now allows doctors to create online forms that the patient can complete from the comfort of their own home before they ever visit the doctor’s office. This allows the patient to take their time, gather information that pertains to their health and respond more thoroughly than through a paper checklist they attempt to complete while sitting in the waiting room. Patients can also update any information routinely by accessing forms through the patient portal so that the office always has the most current information as well as any changes to the patient’s health.

Although electronic health records are becoming standard in all private practices due to the Affordable Care Act, there are many other technologies available for private practices that are designed to improve patient experience. Many of the options are relatively inexpensive while others can be included with other forms of technology, such as patient record programs or cloud-based technology. By improving the technology in a private practice, physicians will find better patient satisfaction, the ability to spend more time with patients in a one-on-one situation and less stress for their staff as procedures are streamlined at the administrative level.

Leading Management Solutions helps medical practice leaders identify ways to improve operations to increase revenue, employee engagement, and patient satisfaction. Learn more about us at www.lmshealthpro.com.

 

About the Author:

Kristen Brady is the founder and owner of Kaboom Social Media, your social media marketing and content specialists! Follow her on Twitter: @kb54927