I have long been an advocate for considering the business process as a whole to identify opportunities for improvement and to establish a business case. I have talked with physicians and practice managers who share the opinion that the goal of the practice is to get the doctor in front of as many patients as possible every day. However, it is interesting how sometimes the other aspects of the operation in the practice can diminish that concerted effort when it comes to the bottom line in the financial statements every month.
A real pain point within the operations I hear about time and again is collections. After all, it is money that the physicians should have earned by providing care. But what happens when people in the practice think more like individuals than as a whole practice? The answer is that gaps develop and grow between people and their processes. Technology, such as an EHR system, can be a great tool for creating efficiencies within the practice. But those efficiencies are only as strong as your underlying processes for delivering care, managing collections, and every other aspect of the practice.
One key point that we consistently talk about with our clients involves the alignment of their technology with the strategy of the practice. The key here is that the strategy must be in place and everyone has to buy-in for best practices to evolve. Consistently measuring your process through key performance indicator reports will then facilitate improvements. Technology can help people become more efficient, but it’s only as good as the underlying processes. We provide our clients with a variety of performance reports for their technology. Further, we make time to discuss this information and the implications with them as well. What makes this work is a shared vision and commitment between our clients and us.
Here is an interesting article from someone I know and trust, Rosemarie Nelson, regarding the big picture view of collections for your practice:
In my conversations regarding technology with healthcare professionals, privacy and security throughout the business/clinical process is a common source of pain. After all, whether a medical practice is well into the use of an EHR or at some stage of selection/implementation, the business process is critical to determining how effective technology will be as a tool for everyone. Each person in the practice has important responsibilities to fulfill and that, in many cases, requires access to patient records in some level of detail. Having a concise technology management and use policy can go a long way in the development of best practices within the practice for concerns such as privacy and security because technology does have implications on both your people and processes. The point is that whatever your process is today, using an EHR can be a great tool when it is surrounded by sound technology management policies for the practice. What’s more, this is an ongoing process with much iteration.
Here are some interesting statistics regarding breaches of healthcare data and other personal information:
I have been having more conversations every month about the use and value of social networking sites for interacting with patients. One of the concerns that I hear time and again from healthcare professionals is apprehension regarding protecting patient privacy. While privacy is always important, there are real benefits to being able to share insight with patients in an asynchronous environment.
Consider the implications of using a social site as a resource tool for the physician to share with patients whenever they choose to view it – especially when the office is closed. Telemedicine is a term that for some remains obscure in application within the physician-patient interaction. I use my blog posts to share information with the people who I know and trust in healthcare. Some people have even asked me why I share so much information. The answer is that behind the scenes it’s actually a two-way street among my healthcare peers, clients and me and it makes all of us better off.
Below is a link to an interesting article which gives examples of using social networks like Facebook and Twitter to interact with patients. Whether or not you agree with this type of exchange with health information I think you’ll at least find this thought provoking: