Automate Your Busy Independent Practice: 5 Important Reasons to Take Action TODAY

Running an independent practice has changed a lot since the advent of COVID-19. Patients have become a lot more demanding. Practitioners are facing more burnout than ever, and are quitting medicine in droves. Telehealth has changed the way healthcare is delivered, in everything from psychiatry to routine office visits. And costs just keep going up, up, up.


Automation can streamline your practice and help resolve many of these issues. Bringing in technology does not have to be difficult, expensive or time-consuming for your staff to learn and implement. Here’s why you should look into modernizing today.


1. Automation saves time.


Implementing an integrated Electronic Health Records (EHR) system trims hours of work each day for everyone in the office. Are you still writing clinical notes by hand? Electronic charting is much faster, and keeps all of your records in one place, typically stored safely in the cloud for anytime, anywhere access.


Other EHR features streamline every area of your practice. E-prescription eliminates phone calls to pharmacies, or the nuisance of hand-writing scripts. Online scheduling allows patients to select their own appointments, relieving front-desk personnel from annoying phone chores. Patients can even fill out intake forms online before their first visit, and update records themselves in the comfort of their home.


A good EHR streamlines billing chores too. Having a digital system allows you to do billing in-house without the hassle of paper records and filing cabinets. Built-in reporting tools show you trends in everything from demographics to cash flow, so you can look for areas of improvement. If you choose to use an external billing service, an EHR lets you deliver data with the click of a mouse, saving countless hours of preparation time.


Then there’s telehealth -- which is becoming ubiquitous -- saving patients commute time and the hassle of finding childcare or taking time off work. It also lets you “see” patients wherever you might be. Some behavioral health practices, in fact, are now purely remote.


2. Automation saves money and increases revenue.


Technology offers so many ways to cut costs in your practice. After all, every hour saved is also money saved. So reducing repetitive tasks means a lighter workload for your staff.


Take automated patient billing (APB), for instance. You can set up your software to notify patients about their balance the minute that insurance reimbursement comes through. Send them an email, or better yet, a text noting the balance due and giving a link to pay by credit card. Practices who adopt APB report that the vast majority of patients pay immediately, giving a big boost to cash flow.


Is bad debt a problem? APB automatically reminds patients by text or email on a regular basis, and then notifies you when an account is overdue. This trims the time your staff members have to spend on onerous collection calls.


You can also use your EHR to auto-check insurance eligibility, running batch verifications for all patients scheduled for the day or on an individual basis. This helps avoid insurance delays or denials.


Telehealth increases revenue by letting you see more patients per day without adding infrastructure. Many specialties are able to cut costs by opening their physical office only a few days a week. Just be certain to select a telehealth system that interfaces with your EHR, to ensure that every visit is billed properly. This was a big problem for providers when the pandemic began, and many clinics used ad-hoc telehealth solutions, only to find that visits fell through the cracks and went unbilled.


3. Automation keeps patients happier.


Patients appreciate the conveniences that technology can bring. By accessing your EHR’s patient portal, they can make appointments, change or cancel them, view lab results, check prescriptions, ask questions of their provider, and make payments online – all 24/7. You can set up your EHR’s communications solution to send appointment reminders, or remind about follow-ups to increase return visits. Post relevant articles and educational resources where patients can learn more about your specialty. Or provide patients with maps and directions to your office.


Patients are also big fans of telehealth – something they are increasingly expecting as part of any healthcare offering.


4. Automation helps grow your practice.


A website is a must for any practice. Patients are savvy consumers. Over 90% of them read online reviews before trying a provider. If you don’t have a web presence yet, your EHR may be able to help you set one up. It might also link you to social media platforms and review sites.


Speaking of reviews, use your EHR’s communications to send out a satisfaction survey after each and every visit. Follow up on negative comments. Then repost the positive ones (with the patient’s permission, of course) to social media sites like Yelp, NextDoor and Google. The more reviews you have, the more successful your practice looks (and is).


5. Automation prevents burnout.


Fewer hassles at work. A more reliable revenue stream. Happier patients. And a thriving practice. These all add up to a more fulfilling career by decreasing the factors that contribute to burnout. By turning to technology, you eliminate many of the stressors that keep you up at night – and at the same time reinforce the rewards that led you to medicine in the first place.


Ready to learn more? Kareo is a leading EHR known for its cost-effectiveness and user-friendliness for independent clinics. Check out Kareo’s infographic “16 Easy Ways You Can Automate Your Busy Independent Practice.”

About the Author

Alesa Lightbourne is a prize-winning author, professor and former dean of an international business school. As a freelance writer, her clients have included Fortune...

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