Running your own medical practice is rewarding, but challenging. It’s a constant balancing act between optimising business profitability and providing long lasting, quality patient care.
Digital innovations are paving the way for practitioners to save time and increase efficiency, but Australia is lagging far behind. In fact, in 2017, the Future Health Index ranked Australia behind a 19-country average in adoption of connected care technologies.
For Australian clinics, leveraging digital tools is integral to running a profitable practice: it not only saves time for support staff, but also gives your practitioners more time to focus on delivering high quality experiences to patients. If you want to empower efficiency and improve profitability in your practice, here’s how technology can help.
1. Automate patient reminders
Whether it’s an appointment reminder or an update for a patient whose test results are ready, good dialogue with your patients helps deliver a quality experience and increase patient loyalty – but with 45.8% of physicians reporting symptoms of burnout, it can be hard for practitioners to deliver the follow-up a patient may need.
Automated reminders are a quick win to help your practitioners get back much-needed time. They can be set up through your clinic’s medical practice management software. Basic appointment reminders can help reduce no-shows as well as set up automatic reminders for annual check-ups or test result collections.
Want to learn how to deal with missed appointments and turn them into loyal customers? Read more here
2. Embrace voice-to-text transcription
Today, many practices are still manually taking patient notes or typing out referral letters, using up valuable patient consultation time on administration. Voice recognition technology has developed immensely in recent years, making it a powerful and reliable tool for medical practices.
Software is now able to recognise the phonetics of a region for higher accuracy, and can even adapt to a specialist’s accent, terminology and voice.
By leveraging voice-to-text, your practitioners can directly dictate referral letters, sign off on documents, dictate consultation notes, and even command their device to open up system commands or mark items for follow up – allowing for more seamless communication with your patients, and accurate record-keeping.
3. Provide a patient portal
According to a recent study by the Australian Digital Health Agency, 50% of respondents would like to access their personal health information using digital devices. A patient portal is an online page that leverages cloud technology to help your medical practices deliver more transparency and flexibility for patients, and cut down the time spent on administration for practitioners.
Using a patient portal, your patients can book and reschedule appointments, and pre-fill their registration questionnaire – reducing patient no-shows and time spent on paperwork in-clinic. Practitioners can also use the portal to share valuable real-time information with patients, improving patient engagement, and manage risk by setting up automated reminders for any health check-ups that are needed.
Empowering patients with access to their medical history doesn’t just improve the patient experience. It means you’ll be able to access patient information ahead of time, so you can spend more time providing quality care during a consultation.
4. Go mobile
Over 89% of Australians own smartphones, which means your patients and practitioners are always accessing information on the go, all the time. Today, your practice’s efficiency is directly linked to your ability to make information and services easily accessible for your patients and practitioners.
For multi-location clinics, having a system that is accessible via different devices is crucial for ensuring that patient records are accessible at all times, and that no information is lost in translation. Calendars that doctors can access on the go are essential for maximising practice efficiency.
You can also encourage a pro-mobile approach with your team. GPs and nutritionists can recommend apps to help patients track body weight and BMI; while physiotherapists and specialists can share videos of exercises during consultations to help clients get an understanding of a movement.
5. Build your digital presence
New patients are essential for keeping your practice profitable and running smoothly. With more Australians using online platforms to research and book their next medical appointment, your online reputation is an integral part of your practice’s marketing and visibility strategy.
When building your practice’s marketing strategy, integrate these four points:
- Your website is your practice’s digital home: and should have clear information on your services offered, practitioners, and access to a patient portal or booking system.
- SEO is a powerful tool: one of the most cost-effective ways to find new patients is to be where they’re looking – and that means Google. There are two ways your practice can be found on Google search – Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM). The former requires a long-term approach and ongoing marketing efforts, but will benefit your overall patient recruitment for years to come.
- Facebook can engage patients: and keep your practice top-of-mind. Posting reminders for patients (such as vaccination reminders, or healthcare tips), and providing news on your clinic is one of the ways you can engage with your patients and build a strong referral network.
- Online reviews have direct business impact: Word-of-mouth is the most trusted way to advertise and build your practice’s reputation. Incentivise your patients to leave a review after their consultation on Facebook and Google+.
Want to learn more about managing social media for your business? Find out more here.
6. Seamless billing
All businesses, not just medical practices, rely on steady cash flow in order to operate smoothly. Billing is a crucial part of ensuring that your practice stays profitable, so you can continue to help more patients; however, following up on payments can be tedious and time-consuming, particularly if you have different fee schedules to manage.
The more you can automate the billing process, the more your team and practice will benefit. Some Australian medical practice software can automatically integrate patient fees with Government concessions and fee schedules, Medicare bulk billing, Workers Compensation, Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA), Australian Medical Association (AMA) and Eclipse, so your support team can save time and gain accuracy on financial reporting.
From a cash flow perspective, a quick win to automate the billing process is to upload invoices and receipts to your patient portal once a patient has finished their consultation, as well as sending automated SMS or email reminders for overdue payments. Platforms can also integrate with Xero, so all your financial systems speak to one-another.
7. Manage clinical risk effectively
The Australian government requires health services providers to hold records for as long as a state deems relevant, and also provides patients with access to their medical records when requested. Incomplete records can put your clinic at risk, from both a financial and legal standpoint, so it’s critical to protect your practice from any unexpected costs that could put a strain on profitability and efficiency.
Managing clinical risk requires your clinic to have:
- Strong operational processes: including how practitioners communicate with patients and through which platforms (for example, only through your clinic’s system), and what type of information is required for each consultation.
- Secure and comprehensive patient records: including patient booking and payment, reminders for medical appointments, and records of practitioner-patient communication.
Although there are multiple facets of managing clinical risk, digital tools can help lessen the burden of administration for your teams, by setting fields as mandatory in patient forms, ensuring critical information is captured. Patient information can also be stored securely in the cloud, so your practice can access consolidated records quickly and easily at any time.
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