Historically, Plastic Surgery practices have needed to be more aware than many other medical specialties when recognizing the direct effect that patient experience has on retention and practice growth. While the focus on ensuring a positive patient experience has not changed, it is important to emphasize and increase operational efficiency due to the continually changing health care landscape.
Many plastic surgery practices were early adopters of cloud-based practice management (PM) and electronic medical record (EMR) systems in hopes that they would address efficiency issues and maximize productivity. As technology evolves, however, practices must continue to stay up-to-date with trends to ensure that the system they implemented five or 10 years ago is not now hindering operations and opportunities for growth.
Which tools are best for your practice growth?
Choosing the essential tools for managing patient flow and information provides a good foundation for daily operational efficiency, but implementing an intelligent and intuitive system that includes valuable features such as patient satisfaction, retention, inventory and marketing can provide a competitive edge and satisfying financial results. Advanced cloud-based solutions can help to minimize IT overhead, ensure a seamless patient experience and improve satisfaction and retention.
NEXT: Minimize IT Overhead
Minimize IT Overhead
Practices that focus on ensuring efficiency and maximizing revenue should also minimize non-essential IT expenses. Advanced, end-to-end cloud-based systems, allow practices to avoid the responsibility of purchasing and maintaining servers that take up valuable space at the practice location. Instead, the cloud-IT partner is responsible for servicing hardware and installing new software, whereas the practice may pay an IT contractor between $100 and $200 per hour for maintenance on a server-based platform. In addition, it benefits the Plastic Surgery practice to have the option to hand pick the PM and EMR tools they need — such as essential inventory and imaging applications — instead of buying pre-packaged technology that goes unused and only adds to overall costs.
For physicians who work at multiple practices, cloud-based solutions can provide an added benefit that on-site servers cannot duplicate. Cloud-based PM and EMR options allow physicians or office managers to access data and view images through a secure web browser or mobile device app. This means that the physician does not have to worry about where he or she is when dealing with a patient's information or responding to requests. The information is accessible anywhere there is a secure Wi-Fi connection available. This freedom enables greater productivity and enhanced patient care.
For Plastic Surgeons who are looking to increase market share by opening new locations or practicing part-time out of a partner’s facility, cloud-based software makes the process faster, easier and more cost effective. Aside from the obvious medical supplies and equipment, practices only need internet access to begin seeing patients at a new location.
Ensure a Seamless Patient Experience
A seamless patient experience encourages both retention and referrals, but not all PM solutions focus on building a positive patient experience. For this reason, physicians and practice managers should carefully compare IT options to ensure that the option they choose will benefit the practice's long-term business needs.
For example, the patient experience begins at the first phone call the potential patient makes. An optimized PM guides front office staff through the necessary questions to capture required information about the prospective patient. Additionally, it delivers answers to the most common patient questions — such as those regarding procedure costs, procedure time frame and standard healing/recovery time — to ensure that patients are well informed from their first point of contact with the practice.
After the patient schedules the initial consultation, it is crucial that the patient shows up. If the patient misses the first appointment, the likelihood that the patient will schedule the procedure with the practice significantly decreases. An intuitive PM can help minimize missed appointments — and ultimately increase physician revenue — by generating and sending automated appointment reminders and confirmation text messages to the patient. These reminders also include functionality that directly integrate confirmations and schedule changes into the patient scheduler, allowing the physician to maximize patient volume. After the initial consultation, the system continues to support patient retention by sending automatic follow-up messages to the patient if a procedure has not been scheduled.
Improve Satisfaction and Retention
The completion of services is not the end of the patient experience. An advanced end-to-end PM will prompt the office manager to send the patient an online satisfaction survey following any procedures. Numerous actionable reports, whether preconfigured or customized, help identify revenue and satisfaction growth opportunities. With this type of system, managers can effortlessly determine which patients have not yet scheduled recommended follow-up consultations, as well as those who might be receptive to additional services based on their specific interests and demographics. To get the most out of this information, these insights can (and should) be integrated with marketing tools that are designed to attract patients back to the practice.
About the author:
Tommy Richardson is the Chief Technology Officer and SVP of Technology at Nextech.