Technology Essentials for Independent Medical Practices

While running an independent medical practice comes with challenges, especially with all the unknowns and complexities in healthcare today, there are a number of new technologies specifically designed to help independent medical practices stay independent. Implementing these technologies can help practices not just survive but thrive.

Every day, an enormous amount of data is created in a medical office, and all of it must be handled and captured accurately. And, you know that an error at any point of the process can go all the way to billing, resulting in a denial. That means someone has to rework the claim, and that tiny little mistake might actually end up costing your practice a lot of money. Today, there are tools available to eliminate opportunities for error, allowing you to get more done with better accuracy and invest less staff-time.

What's more, many of the most exciting developments in the technology space are those that can improve the patient experience. These advancements give the patient confidence that their doctor and the practice staff are invested in creating an efficient workflow that improves the patient-doctor experience and the level of care.

Additionally, patient collections are a focus of new technological innovations, making it easier for patients to handle their medical bills and allowing your office to collect more, faster — a true win-win. Some EHRs offer you the ability to integrate with your legacy systems, filling in the gaps and giving smaller practices the level of technology comparable to that of larger organizations. 

Here are a few examples of new solutions available for independent practices. For more on the topic, watch the webinar, The 3 Keys to Thriving as an Independent Practice

Real-time Eligibility

The ability to verify real time eligibility, when it's built into your EHR, provides you with the information you need about patients' coverage at your fingertips. Look for an EHR that provides you with all the relevant information you need for each patient, including eligibility verification, in a quick and easy view.

Estimation Technology

Estimation technology is improving, and is certainly a better solution than trying to estimate a patient’s payments manually. We've entered the era of higher patient responsibility -- including copays, co-insurance, deductibles and self-pay. Getting a handle on your patient collections rate has become as integral a part of practice management as payer reimbursements. 

Payment Tools

Payment tools like e-statements, online payments, mobile payments, and having a credit card on file--these all contribute to the bottom line success of your office. And, 100% acceptance is not needed for it to be valuable. If just half of your patients pay promptly because they have the opportunity to do it electronically, your collections can increase dramatically.

Online Scheduling

Some practices are worried that their patients will schedule the wrong type of appointment if provided an online scheduling option. If you're concerned about this, you can try implementing an online scheduler with one physician in your practice, learn from the experience, and modify it until you have something in place that will make your patients happy, and ultimately, make your practice more efficient. 

Appointment Reminders

You can greatly reduce your no-shows by implementing appointment reminders by text and email. Text messaging is now the most used data service in the world. And the average worker checks email 74 times a day. Compare that to how many times you decline a phone call from an unknown source and you can see the power of using these methods of appointment reminders in addition to (or even replacing) phone calls. Be sure to look for technology that allows 2-way communication between practice and patients. Nothing is more frustrating than not being able to respond or get a response when needed. 

An amazing assortment of technological innovation has occurred in the past five years, and many options are now available to help support the independent practice. Some tools, especially those that operate behind the scenes, are there to help on the collections side and improve the billing process. The customer experience has been enhanced as well, with several applications now accessible and all designed to make a visit to the doctor as painless as possible. It’s not all about the EHR anymore, and as technology gets even better, practices will find it that much easier to stay independent. 

About the Author

Adria Schmedthorst ran a private chiropractic practice for more than 10 years. Now she uses her healthcare industry knowledge to write content that reaches the hearts...

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