Technology can sometimes get a bad rap. Even though we're at the tail end of it now, the huge industry push to transition to an EHR platform certainly didn't do anything to help mitigate those feelings either. And with more apps and platforms being introduced to the market, physicians may be reluctant to bring on new technology.
Instead, they may feel more comfortable maximizing existing apps and platforms. Here's how to leverage three popular healthcare technologies and improve productivity at the same time.
1. Take advantage of EHR training.
Considering that you may have invested thousands or even tens of thousands into a specific technology, like an EHR platform, you want to be able to get the most out of it — the quicker, the better. The sooner you can get up and running, the faster you'll see a positive ROI.
Most EHR vendors include at least some basic training in their fee structures. Others may offer more detailed training, perhaps for free, but more likely at a discounted rate. Independent technology consultants may offer additional training options as well.
Even when a platform may seem relatively self-explanatory or straightforward, there are usually several shortcuts or customizations that can help streamline processes and quickly yield gains in efficiency and productivity. This is especially true for robust EHR systems, where it may take users years to work out all of the kinks and shortcuts on their own. Opting for extra training has the potential to pay for itself and then some.
2. Increase use of the patient portal.
Even though it's a requirement of Meaningful Use, patient portal usage has remained somewhat stagnant. Nearly two-thirds of patients were not using a portal as of 2014. And there is likely a subset of providers who purchased a portal, but failed to attempt to fully maximize its usage beyond MU requirements. However, adopting a portal and taking the time to educate patients may provide some distinct advantages in terms of productivity.
Allowing patients to submit questions and appointment and prescription refill requests through the portal can lead to significant time savings for practice staff. Instead of facing constant interruptions, staff members can address those requests at their convenience — though still within 24 hours generally. Decreasing the quantity of phone calls coming into the office may also relieve some of the tension and chaos that often ensues with an influx of phone traffic. Physicians may find it easier — or simply prefer — to set aside a block of time to quickly respond to the day's portal questions rather than get tied up on several phone calls or leaving numerous messages for a call back.
3. Customize clinical documentation needs.
It's estimated that physicians spend 43 percent of their day on data entry, which adds up to roughly 4,000 clicks per day or 7.2 million words per year. The strain and stress caused by that repetitiveness can eventually negatively impact a physician's productivity.
While most physicians invest in speech recognition software, like Nuance's Dragon Medical, to improve documentation speed and productivity, many give up on the technology far too soon. Like any other application, there is certainly a learning curve as well as a number of customizations that can improve the user experience. Voice commands, shortcuts, and templates can be created for each practice or user. For Dragon Medical, there is even a two-part training program — The Voice Fellowship™ Program — that is dedicated solely to improving efficiency and productivity from day one.
Taking advantage of additional training can prove invaluable by saving you time, money, and possibly your sanity.
Do you use any of these technologies in your practice? Have they helped improve productivity? Please join the conversation below.