“33% of Medical Group Management leaders plan to automate patient communications in some way due to staffing shortages.”1
If you’re a physician or practice manager, you’re likely tasked with medical staff schedules, bills, and patient responses.
With Hippocractic determination, you may have set out to provide value for patients and make a difference in your community. But how can you manage all these administrative duties while treating patient conditions?
Implementing effective medical practice software may improve your patient outcomes. With employee shortages and urgent requests affecting speed to care, we put together a list of ideas you can implement today. Let’s take a look at a few medical practice examples that others have found useful for improved workflows.
Medical Practice Management Examples
Larger Medical Group Medical Practices
Larger medical group management needs have a few differences compared to smaller, physician-owned clinics. They typically include multiple specialists, a large clinical staff, medical partnerships, and offices scattered throughout a city, county, or region.
For example, Mid-Atlantic Nephrology Associates (MANA) had eight office locations which served twelve hospitals in their metropolitan city. With multiple locations, managing on-call physician schedules and patient requests were a challenge. Inefficient communication resulted in providers being contacted at the wrong time. Shared logins and passwords became inaccessible due to security lockouts, and practitioners were unable to share secure images and messages to accurately treat patients.
The needs varied from communicating the latest power outage to who was on which dialysis unit, where, and when. The practice managers did not have full control over the schedules, and there was no way of knowing when a schedule was updated. They were unable to match who was on call when and at which location.
After getting everyone on a unified communication system, the nephrologists were able to see lab results right away. Group texts were sent to the whole care team and medical staff, so they knew what to expect in case of early closures or emergencies. To improve patient response times, all practice managers received a backup notification when a provider didn’t respond within 48 hours. In this way, patient messages were never missed.
By putting these medical practice communication systems in place, the providers didn’t have to worry about their schedules being disrupted while off the clock. The organization was able to get everyone on the same page. The practice managers had full control over the schedules again, allowing them to update on the fly while syncing to each location and provider.
Physician-Owned Clinics and Specialties
Building reliable systems for a small practice now can help you when it’s time to scale. Aside from medical billing and medical supply inventory, an optimized communication flow between providers and patients forms the backbone for a physician-owned clinic’s success.
Smaller medical practices often use medical answering services to inform patients and other specialties of holiday hours, weekly office times, and who to contact for which request. Much like the large group practice example, yet with fewer locations and reduced staff size.
For example, one medical clinic needed to let patients know their Monday through Friday hours, lunch break from 12-1 PM, and who was on call for the weekend. They needed a way to check messages and follow up without the doctor being paged for non-urgent matters. For inpatient and outpatient critical lab results, physicians needed to access that information quickly and get notified about it.
After implementing custom voicemail prompts for inpatient and outpatient labs, office hours, and urgent versus non-urgent requests, patient callbacks improved. Timely messages were routed to the right on-call specialist. The office manager was able to login to the system each day through a secure app or web browser to verify and track messages. Any edits to the schedule went into effect immediately with their specific medical communication software.
Medical Practice Management Ideas
Effective and updated communication is instrumental for operating a medical clinic or group practice. You can have one provider and two part-time staff all the way up to and beyond 100+ physicians, nurses, medical assistants, and locations. Large or small, you may share these medical practice communication strategies with your medical team and administrative decision-makers, and see if it leads to positive outcomes.
Fundamental Medical Practice Management Thoughts
Consider who your frequent patients are versus one-time patients. What does the patient journey look like? Are there ways to enhance your process and decrease human error, such as billing needs, messages, and phone calls?
From before check-in all the way to post-acute follow ups and pharmacy prescriptions, reminding patients, and communicating with them along the way alleviates confusion. Establish a clinical workflow plan for responding to patients, inquiries from other specialities, and care team members. Let’s take a look at a few ideas for implementing these practice management strategies.
Custom Medical Answering Service Software for Medical Practices
Use a custom voicemail message related to your type of medical specialty. Setting up automated calls and notifications can reduce nurse and physician administrative burdens, allowing them to effectively receive updates, read patient charts, and respond appropriately.
A few medical specialty examples:
- An obstetrics and gynecology clinic may need to include call flow questions related to the number of weeks pregnant, patient’s doctor, and a reason for the call.
- A nephrology clinic may need to ask about BUN, creatinine, and potassium levels before routing the call to the right provider. This allows time for the physician or nurse practitioner to pull up the patient’s chart or other remote patient monitoring stats.
- A surgery center may need to route a call based on the patient’s surgeon, patient location, and reason for the call, such as post-acute treatment instructions. They may need to provide message prompts for an attending anesthesiologist schedule.
Providing patients and additional providers with clearly defined instructions ensures the message gets to the right person. Taking time to set up communication flows correctly can save medical practices hours of time later.
Applying Telehealth Solutions in Medical Practice Management
Does using a video telehealth visit mean I offer free medical advice? Not if you’re helping patients. Traditionally, clinics could only bill for in-person visits. The COVID-19 pandemic thrust virtual services into the forefront, changing how the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule works via telehealth.2 For billable hours and unique codes, check the most recent CMS policies regarding virtual services.
“Telehealth services can be provided to new and established patients via smartphone if the smartphone allows for audio-video interaction between the physician and patient.”3
With secure telehealth messaging, family medicine practitioners and other medical specialties can utilize video appointments for patient follow-ups. Video technologies may be used by the whole care team, and a primary care doctor and surgeon could hop on a simple video call to discuss their patient’s next steps. For a clinical psychologist or behavioral health center, this could be an effective way to form alignment between a therapist and physician.
Secure Medical Text Reminders
How do you handle patient no-shows? What if patients are ignoring your phone calls and not logging into their portal? Perhaps patients frequently call the office for non-urgent matters or office hour information—all of which could easily be automated. 91.1% of patients surveyed in one study mentioned secure medical text updates helped them avoid calling the office.
What kinds of texts are best to send?
For medical practice management, here are a few suggestions:
- Appointment reminders including day and time of appointment.
- Virtual check-in reminders before arriving at the medical office.
- Quick ad hoc video visits as part of a patient follow-up session.
- Reminder to login through the organization’s portal for the detailed physician notes or AVS (After Visit Summary).
- Prescription refill reminders.
- Group texts to medical staff for updated closures or emergencies.
Using a patient text solution, Ridgeview Rehab Specialties was able to reduce its no-show rate by 12.6%, generating an average of $175 per visit.4 This is one example of how streamlining medical practice communication can improve patient care outcomes and reduce hefty administrative costs.
Need more ideas? Take a few minutes to read through these customer success stories. It might be the next step in your journey to effective medical practice management.
1MGMA Staff Members. (2022, March 23). Outsourcing, automation may provide help to short-staffed practices. Medical Group Management Association. https://www.mgma.com/resources/resources/operations-management/outsourcing,-automation-may-provide-help-to-short
2CMS (2022). List of Telehealth Services. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Medicare-General-Information/Telehealth/Telehealth-Codes
3AAFP (2022). Coding Scenario: Coding for Telehealth Visits. American Academy of Family Physicians. https://www.aafp.org/family-physician/patient-care/current-hot-topics/recent-outbreaks/covid-19/covid-19-telehealth/coding-scenarios-during-covid-19/telehealth.html
4PerfectServe Success Stories. https://www.perfectserve.com/success-stories/ridgeview-rehab/