Odds are you entered the medical field in order to work with patients and help to improve their health and quality of life. However, few physicians first stepping into the realm of medical practice realize just how much time they’ll spend away from their patients.
One study from Johns Hopkins reported that medical interns spend only 12% of their time in face-to-face interactions with their patients. In contrast, 64% of their time is spent on “indirect” patient care tasks—researching medical histories, placing orders, and of course, completing paperwork. For the most part, the medical profession views these mountains of paperwork as a necessary evil, even though it slows down medical staff and causes ample frustrations for patients and physicians alike.
Luckily, there are a few resources available to you in order to help your practice reduce paperwork and operate more efficiently.
Electronic Self-Service Solutions
In a world of online shopping and self-checkout lanes, it’s become apparent that the average consumer often prefers to do things for themselves; after all, isn’t that why gas station attendants have become virtually extinct? The medical field is no different. There are many aspects of a patient’s visit to a medical clinic that can be digitized so that the patient can tend to it themselves.
A survey by Digital Assent discovered that as much as 84% of patients preferred an electronic check-in process over checking in on paper. Not only did they find the process easier, but it helped them to avoid filling out the same forms repeatedly during their visit. Electronic self-service solutions like this free your staff from having to complete the tasks, empowers patients, expedites collection of patient information, reduces the amount of physical paperwork in your practice, and makes it easier for the physicians in your practice to accurately assess each patient’s condition.
Management Service Organizations (MSOs)
Simply put, MSOs provide outsourced labor so that you and your staff don’t have to spend as much time on administrative tasks. You can choose to outsource as much or as little of your nonmedical business functions as you wish, but here are a few of the tasks that medical practices often send to MSOs:
- Billing and collections
- IT support
- Website design
- Physician recruitment
- Negotiations with health insurers
When you choose to outsource such administrative responsibilities, the responsibility for the related paperwork now falls on the MSO. This gives you more time to spend with your patients.
DMS and EHR Software Solutions
DMS (document management software) and EHR (electronic healthcare record) solutions provide medical practices with digital versions of the health records that were once only available in physical paper formats. All of your patients’ medical records are compiled in a single location, eliminating the need to track down records or find space to store them. In addition to making it easier to find records, it is also much easier for personnel to make any necessary changes to patient records in the future. This ensures that your patients’ healthcare records are always current and accurate.
The great majority of healthcare clinics have switched to these electronic document management solutions already. In fact, between the years 2008 and 2012, the percentage of physicians using such symptoms jumped from 17% to over 50%. That number has increased even more since then, with as much as 95% of hospitals using the programs as of 2015; however, only 56% of office-based physicians are doing the same.
Electronic healthcare record systems offer improved patient experience, increased interaction time between patients and hospital staff, reduced risk of lost or misfiled paperwork, reduced risk of medical errors, and incredible cost and time savings. It’s little wonder that so many hospitals and clinics are making the change to these systems.
While each of these solutions reduces the amount of paperwork your medical practice must handle, more importantly, they will help to minimize the amount of time you and your staff spend on that paperwork, giving you more time to address the needs of your patients. You can improve your practice while ensuring that your patients receive the personalized care and attention they need.