Use Your EHR to Increase Patient Visits
No matter if your practice implemented an EHR years ago or if you are a relative EHR newbie, you can benefit from periodically stepping back and evaluating how to get more still from your EHR.
In our consulting work with practices, we’re almost always able to spot easy ways to improve practice efficiency and profitability by tapping underutilized EHR functionality. Considering that practices need to continue to serve patients as these systems are adopted, it’s not surprising that every bell and whistle isn’t thoroughly explored from day one. There are many ways to boost profitability by making better use of less commonly tapped features in your existing technology.
If you’re a primary care practice (including OB/GYN and pediatrics), one great way to improve profitability and patient care while also smoothing out your practice’s seasonal patient volume is to get your patients in on time for their annual wellness visit. Patients love that there is no out-of-pocket cost, your practice enjoys relatively generous reimbursement, and you can schedule these appointments to help smooth your patient volume.
Your EHR’s reporting capabilities can help you understand the size of the opportunity as well as define the patient population that needs to be scheduled. If you haven’t been disciplined about recalling patients for preventive visits, you can start by generating a report of active patients who haven’t had a wellness visit in the last eleven months. Your providers should be consulted to see if there are particular patient populations that should take priority (e.g., diabetic patients). With cost being a factor in many patients’ behavior, make sure that patients know that the visit is almost always paid in whole by their insurance as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
If you have a well-adopted patient portal in place, reaching out to these populations in their preferred method can be reasonably straightforward, but if not, you’ll want to be careful that you don’t generate more inbound phone calls than your office can manage—send out alerts in manageable batches over a period of weeks if you have a sizable backlog. If your portal is new or isn’t yet widely used by your patients, take the opportunity to tout its benefits in whatever outreach you choose. Increasing adoption of your patient portal will make future recall programs that much simpler.