With the New Year approaching, physicians, like everybody else, would do well to consider making New Year resolutions to improve practice efficiency and spend more time with patients, and most important, reduce stress. Outsourcing medical transcription can help with all of this. Here are some more good New Year Resolution ideas for physicians that can have a positive impact on their lives and the wellbeing of their patients.
- Utilize technology effectively: There is a wealth of new technologies in clinical practice and managing a practice’s IT needs is critical to its effective operation and the ability to provide better patient care. One of the major issues that physicians continue to face is managing their EHR system. EHRs require too much time for data entry, make data mining difficult, and reduce physician-patient visit time. While EHR-integrated medical transcription services are available to help make documentation quicker and easier, physicians across all medical specialties can push to improve EHR functionality so that the focus back on the patient and the provider can document the encounter quickly and completely.
- Improve care provision and delivery: Easier and faster patient care and follow up is another thing that most physicians have on their New Year wish list. Smarter appointment scheduling can promote delivery of better care within the limited window of time allocated. One strategy is to allocate more time for patients with chronic or complicated conditions. Installing quality online appointment scheduling software can reduce patient wait time and improve the patient experience, and ultimately, patient retention.
- Enhance patient communications: Communicating effectively with patients is key to improving the patient experience and building good physician-patient relationships. Physicians Practice offers the following tips to improve communication with patients: ask open-ended questions at the consult to better understand their problem and symptoms; pay attention to non-verbal cues to see if patients understand instructions; use simple nonmedical language so that patients can follow; use the teach-back method to educate patients with low literacy; implement patient satisfaction surveys to assess the effectiveness of patient communication with physicians and staff, and ensure empathic communication with the patient and family in an adverse situation.
- Create and implement effective patient education programs: In this era of value-based care, physician practices need to aim to provide effective patient education in all aspects of their care. Patients should be educated on what they are expected to do, along with a clear explanation on priorities. This will empower and engage patients in managing their own care, and help them communicate effectively more effectively with their physician when there is a problem. Educational programs and material should be simple, clear and to the point.
- Address stress and burnout: According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), nearly two-thirds of family physicians report at least one element of burnout, and the trend is moving in the wrong direction. Administrative burden, excessive EHR complexity and lack of interoperability, inadequate payment, and maintenance of certification hassles are the key factors responsible for driving physician stress and burnout. In fact, physician wellness was a focal point for the Academy in 2018.
Telehealth is a technological tool that physicians can take advantage of to improve the way they provide care. The bonus is that, for the first time in 2019, Medicare will pay doctors for new communication technology-based services such as virtual check-ins with their patients, virtual consultations between physicians, evaluation of remote pre-recorded images and video and an expanded list of telehealth services.
Improving patient communications also involves ensuring that office functions like insurance verification are streamlined so that staff can inform patients of their financial responsibilities and engage them at the outset. The goal should be to make every patient contact-phone, email, or visit-quick and flawless, with respect for their time.
Building stress resiliency should be an important goal for physicians in 2019. Strategies to accomplish this include, getting sufficient sleep, making time for exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, building a positive mindset, learning how to cope with difficult situations and planning ahead. Keeping these wellness resolutions is also critical. In a 2017 Reader’s Digest article that listed the New Year resolutions of top physicians, Adam Splaver, MD, said,
“As a busy cardiologist, it is easy to get swept away in the vortex of chaos that comes with the occupation. In order for me not to lose my sense of self, my purpose, and reestablish zen, I am adding a practice of mindfulness to my routine. I meditate daily and incorporate a breathing practice into my work. I have felt more grounded, at ease, and fully present in the moment as a result.”
As we enter 2019, healthcare providers face many challenges like leveraging data to manage health and drive decisions, controlling costs and improving care quality, harnessing digital technology, and much more. Influencers and stakeholders, including medical transcription companies, need to work with physicians to intensify the efforts to meet the goals of improving care while promoting clinician wellbeing and practice efficiency.