By Alex Tate
The future might bring us Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems which automatically enter and record complete patient clinical encounters, verify insurance eligibility, and add notes; minimizing the need for support staff. However, we must live in the present and adapt to technology as it progresses, and not daydream about technology that is years, probably even decades away.
This means that we must make do with what we have, and do so in the most efficient way possible. First you must understand that long gone are the days when a doctor was the lone maverick, the Superman of his practice; you can’t manage the clinical and operational demands of your practice all by yourself.
You must deputize and designate responsibilities of all types to your support staff, especially those related to managing your EHR and Practice Management (PM) solution. Doing so will not only free up more time for you to handle dimensions of your practice including more focus on patient care, but you will also see more efficiency, higher revenues, and more satisfied clients.
Tech-savvy front desk personnel
A typical patient visit begins with the front desk staff. Your EHR reporting must also begin here. When a patient walks in, the front desk person needs get the patient’s required demographic details onto the system (preferably while the patient is waiting for his turn).
Another way to do so is via deploying a kiosk computer by which the patient is instructed on how to create a patient portal account (which he can later access at home), and fill in the relevant demographic information onto the system himself.
Moreover, front desk personnel will also take phone calls from patients so they must be trained enough to schedule patients directly onto the system while taking the call, or otherwise write down the details on a paper and later convert them onto the system. Insurance eligibility must also be checked via the EHR as soon as the phone is shut; you don’t want to find out that the patient isn’t covered under insurance later, and the front desk can inform them accordingly.
Thus, in today’s healthcare setting, it is very important for a practice’s front desk staff to be tech-savvy so they can help streamline the process and enter the details that you would have to otherwise enter.
Competent nursing staff
Your entry of clinical documentation shouldn’t begin just now, as the patient should now be directed to a pre-exam room where the nurse should take his vitals, ask for the current condition and symptoms, take other basic requisites and enter all of these onto the system. As soon as this is entered onto the system, this means that it is available for you to see. So you can access this information even before the patient walks in to your office.
Doctor and PA
Next, the patient will walk into the exam room where you will already have most of the patient information in front of you. You will diagnose his condition, and suggest subsequent treatment or labs (or begin the actual procedure). You can keep rotating the data entry process with your PA or nurse during the clinical encounter depending on who’s carrying out different processes.
Another tip that doctors greatly benefit from is using an iPad or tablet on which the data entry process becomes comparatively more user friendly; so consider buying one.
Alternatively, you can also hire a scribe who writes down what all you are saying, or create a makeshift scribe from among your staff.
All of these are processes that will help divide the tasks, and hence the otherwise strenuous data entry process. And the result of assigning roles; more time for everyone, higher efficiency, more satisfied customers and consequently higher profits.
About the Author: Alex Tate is a digital marketing specialist, content strategist, and a health IT Consultant at CureMD who provides perceptive, engaging and informative content on industry wide topics including EHR, EMR, practice management, compliance etc.