Medical transcription outsourcing helps physicians deal with the challenges of managing electronic health records (EHRs). However, there are many other facets to running a successful medical practice than record management. With changing laws and regulations, increased reporting requirements, and heavy patient influx, physicians need to focus on certain key areas and activities to deliver the best possible patient care and to stay financially viable. Here are 7 tactics that can improve medical practice efficiency and revenue in 2019.
- Embrace technology: Today, digital strategies play a critical role in healthcare. Besides EHRs, telemedicine, portable diagnostics, apps, social media, conferencing and telemedicine have transformed the way patients interact with clinicians. Virtual visits allow physicians to see more patients, and are a cost-effective tool for physicians in rural areas, or those who see more elderly patients who have difficulty with in-person visits. Physicians and their teams need to successfully integrate effective digital solutions into the practice and take advantage of them. They also know how to work with empowered patients who ask more questions.
- Implement online appointment scheduling: According a Medscape report, one of the critical challenges that practices face is that of scheduling patients. Accenture predicted that 38 percent of all healthcare appointments will be scheduled online by 2019. Online scheduling allows patients to see when a physician is available and schedule their appointment using the practice website. Online appointment scheduling eliminates phone time wasted scheduling and rescheduling appointments, freeing up staff for more important work.
- Tackle uneven appointment schedules: Uneven appointment schedules result from having too many bookings on the same day, no-shows and complex patients who exceed the allotted visit time. Tactics recommended to deal with this problem:
- Reminding patients of their appointment by calling, texting or emailing them.
- Rescheduling appointments for late arrivals.
- Limiting same-day appointments to patients who are critically ill; patients who request same-day appointments should be carefully screened by the physician or registered nurses (RNs) or nurse practitioners.
- Determine the patient’s full list of complaints in advance of the office visit, and work with patients to decide which complaints can be addressed during this visit and which can be postponed to a later visit.
- Streamline EHR data entry: Physicians find documenting patient information to the EHR a time-consuming and difficult task. Moreover, data entry tasks reduce the time that physicians spend with patients at the visit and lead physicians to fall behind with their work and schedules. A www.chattmd.org article suggests the following strategies to deal with this:
- Customizing the EHR inbox so that physicians receive only the information they need: According to the AMA’s STEPS Forward™ module, messages that can be routed to other relevant office staff include: daily progress notes for hospitalized patients; nurse visit notes for preventive care; routine physical therapy progress notes; test results ordered by consultants; previsit labs; and refill requests.
- Getting EHR data entry support: Non-physician clinicians or scribes can be used to enter information into the EHR.
Outsourcing the clinical documentation task to an experienced medical transcription company will also ensure that physician dictation is transcribed accurately and in custom turnaround time. Expert medical transcriptionists will enter information accurately and efficiently by using customized EHR templates created by the physician.
- Optimize front desk operations: Make sure that front office staffs are not overwhelmed. Job sharing is important to optimize front desk operations. If they forced to multitask, they usually end up not being able to do any task well.”Assign a different person for each job, and then cross-train them so that they can help each other out in high-volume periods,” advises Laurie Morgan, a senior consultant at Capko and Co. in San Francisco, California. (www.chattmd.org).
Strategies to improve front desk operations include: allowing receptionists to focus on serving patients instead of answering phone calls; simplifying patient questionnaires and ensuing that all key information is captured; allowing patients to fill out forms on a patient portal; having patients provide information in advance, which is important for insurance verification, and helping patients fill out paperwork if needed.
- Revamp the practice website: Today, practice websites play an important role in marketing and reimbursement and to connect with patients. A recent survey found that even when referred by other physicians, patients check for online reviews and information. Up to 63 percent of the respondents said they would choose one provider over another because of a strong online presence (i.e., availability of relevant, accurate and compelling information). Practice websites need to make a good impression, make it easy for patients to find the information they need – including contact information – and to book appointments and fill in forms. With majority of web searches happening on mobile devices such as smartphones, having a responsive or mobile-friendly site is critical. Responsive website design is important for search engine optimization (SEO) as over 60 percent of Google searches are now from mobile devices and Google boosts mobile-friendly websites.
- Take steps to boost practice revenue: Physicians should be knowledgeable about current reimbursement opportunities and take advantage of them. They need to understand value-based reimbursement and payer incentives, as well as penalties that may result from not participating in value-based programs. Conducting a periodic review of their billing and coding practices is critical to detect gaps and address them to maximize reimbursement opportunities. With deductibles rising higher than ever, practices also need to take steps to improve patient collections.
As physicians look for tools to better practice efficiency and revenue in 2019, medical transcription companies will continue to deliver quality documentation solutions to maintain patient data integrity.