In recent years, though, federal incentive programs spurred a tremendously higher adoption rate for EHRs. As a result, the capabilities of many practices’ EHRs have outpaced those of their PMs, many of which are due for major upgrades as far as functionality, ease-of-use and integration where EHRs are concerned. Consequently, many practices have experienced, among other issues:
Given how much complexity, heartache and clinical disruption was involved in rolling out EHR, it’s understandable why just the idea of another system replacement is enough to induce shortness of breath.
However, modern cloud-based PM solutions are deployed much faster and with significantly less disruption to clinical functions than EHRs; no new infrastructure is required, and integration with your EHR is supported by a best-in-class PM provider.
As further guidance for practices attempting to future-proof their operations, we've compiled some of the core features and functions that are intrinsic to a strong PM replacement:
The front desk is, in many ways, the gatekeeper for clinicians. It's the front desk staff's job to ensure that physicians have a steady flow of patients and that as few time slots are left open as possible. This is crucial to the financial stability of any specialty practice. For example, a single missed appointment costs, on average, $200, according to Health Management Technology. Collectively, this equates to $150 billion in losses every year for the American healthcare system.
A PM with a central scheduling function helps solve this problem in several key ways; it:
All of this minimizes the risk of clerical errors, while also creating a contingency for scheduling over last-minute patient cancellations.
Modern PM tools are built with ease-of-use in mind. Functionality needs to be robust without being cumbersome. Personnel should be able to multitask from a single window and not have to spend an inordinate amount of time searching through never-ending, drop-down menus.
Cost-savings aren't the only reason streamlined eligibility verification needs to be a priority feature for a PM. Patients need to have a clear understanding of how much money they will be expected to pay out of pocket at the point of service. This is especially true in today's healthcare climate, which is saturated with high-deductible, low-premium insurance plans. Estimating the patient's portion of the expense prior to rendering services will reduce the chances of that payment ending up in collections – or written off altogether.
A PM with a strong, online patient portal can transfer many other time-consuming chores from your staff, thereby freeing them to focus on more mission-critical tasks. Your portal should allow patients to request appointments and refills, provide and verify important demographic information, such as medical history and symptoms prior to the visit, request copies of recent encounter notes, and securely communicate with providers and staff members.
Last but not least, practices that implement an intuitive, feature-rich PM can improve patient engagement without giving front-desk personnel more work than they already have. For example, automatic appointment reminders can be scheduled for a communication channel of the patient's choosing – via phone (with Interactive Voice Response, or IVR), text message, email or all of the above. They can even put a credit card on file to have co-pays automatically taken out prior to the appointment, so they have one less thing to worry about.
The future of healthcare is ripe with opportunities to create more efficient workflows while also adding new value to patient relationships. Electronic health records opened the door to information-powered practices, but digital PM resources represent the next step toward better medical care and financially-thriving practices.
Learn more about how AllMeds' Practice Manager can help you take that next step toward operational excellence.