When patients arrive for a doctor’s appointment, some degree of wait time is anticipated. Occasionally, they wait a long time causing tensions to rise for both the patient and the office admin sitting behind the window. If the situation is not addressed and patients feel their time has been disrespected, many leave the practice and never come back.
While you may assume that your practice is efficient, it’s important for medical practice managers to conduct an evaluation of every operational factor that your organization touches; including staffing, communication, scheduling and technology. Technology should support, not hinder, a physician’s efficiency. Technology should be part of the reason why you bring in MORE profits, not less.
Here are 5 technology trends helping medical practices reduce patient wait times and increase medical practice profitability.
1.) Mobile Devices: Allow doctors to look up facts without having to run to the old file cabinets for books.
2.) EHRs: Allow more patient-physician face time because less time is spent coordinating treatments.
3.) Open-access scheduling: When implemented correctly, open-access scheduling can be a powerful tool. Your medical practices should not be hindered by blank appointment spaces, if they can’t be filled at the right rate during the day. Settle on no more than three to four standard codes (i.e. reasons for visit). Standardize the length of each visit as well.
4.) Patient check-in technologies: Have allowed some practices to drastically reduce check in times. For example, Vanguard Urological Institute in Houston, TX, a 4 member practice, adopted a check-in kiosk – the average wait time at Vanguard in 2010 was 2.44 minutes while the national average is 21.3 minutes.
5.) Automated phone messages: Busy practices can decrease call volume and keep phone lines free by using an automated patient notification service that sends reminders, lab results, account balance, etc.
By simplifying and streamlining your technology which affects patient encounters (like the check-in process), your medical practice can reduce patient wait time, create more meaningful interactions between patients and staff, and increase retention / bottom-line profitability.