By Michael Sweeney
In an never ending struggle to achieve CMS guidelines, incentives, initiatives and just plain keeping our heads above water with reduced reimbursements, increasing cost and nowmore than ever a competitive landscape to earn and retain patients trust and business; we may have forgotten one of the most important components to any medical practices purpose and success – The Patient.
Have we asked ourselves how are we really perceived from the patient’s perspective? Are we doing a good job? How do we communicate with patient population about what we offer, services provided and healthcare mandates we are trying to implement and achieve for their healthcare.
Healthcare providers have more and more responsibilities and less and less time to accomplish just the basics. Electronic Medical Records were supposed to make providers more productive and compliant. However, more often than not it may have initially taken away productivity, decreased clinic moral, increased patients wait times and in some instances been an investment that did not meet the needs of the practice and is now being replaced. Additionally practices have significant investments in additional services to help supplement their declining fee schedules and reimbursements. Acquiring and implementing anything from diagnostic equipment, DME inventory, on-site pharmacy services, supplemental healthcare products and other ancillary services requiring a significant investment but limited intervention from a provider to deliver such services.
Social Media is offering many options of communication back to patients about their healthcare. A Waiting room or Patient Exam room solution for targeted information, education and ancillary services is a very human answer to communication, whether it is services provided or the diagnosis treatment plan. More times than not patients may seem to be more technologically savvy than we give them credit. Patients walk in with printed research from the web or a smart phone with on-line access because they are connected and desire information.
Blake Bentley, Administrator of SportMed in Huntsville, Al utilizes a program that communicates to patients while waiting to be seen by his providers to explain, educate and deliver information about service provided by his group. “We implemented the LifeSigns solution that allows us to use our existing TV’s to inform patients about which providers are in clinic that day, the benefits of our fitness center, how to prepare for surgeries and diagnostic procedures as well as showing our providers perform certain surgical procedures like ACL, hip and shoulder repairs.”
Jimmy Norman utilizes the same program to educate and promote University Orthopaedic Clinics involvement in the local community. “One of our success stories that are continuing to evolve is our relationship with the local Parks and Recreation department here in Tuscaloosa,Al which is called PARA. Our goal was to treat the injured athlete on the field and then to fast track them into our practice the next day to see a physician. This direct connection with the orthopedic provider insures a quicker recovery for the athlete to help get them back to their active lifestyle. We also direct patients to like us on Facebook and go to our website for information about our practice and services offered to our patients.”
Covenant Healthcare Centers / Alabama Pain Centers in Huntsville offer a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to the treatment and care of chronic pain patients. Three programs exist: Fast Track, Medical Management and a Multi-Disciplinary Approach.The physicians and multi-disciplinary team work together to create the treatment plan that is best for each individual patient. Part of this plan now includes providing dynamic and relevant patient education while patients wait for the providers in the exam rooms. Clinical support staff queues specific patient related education for review prior to the provider entering the exam room about the organizations philosophy, unique billing procedures and medical treatments plans pertinent to their specific diagnosis. Not only does it assist in the patient’s healthcare plan but it also reduces their perceived wait time in the clinic.
Collaborative Healthcare Initiative, Healthcare Reform, ACO’s, Patient Centered Medical Home Initiative (PCMH), Meaningful Use Stage II, NCQA, PQRI, AQOF, HIE and the list goes on and on…… All of theseplans require organizations including, educating and communicating to their patients in order to receive or meet the expected criteria for incentive reimbursement. If practices focus on the Patient, educate the Patients and bring awareness to the Patients then everyone should be a winner.LifeSignsWeb Medical http://lifesignsweb.com/LifeSignsWeb/home.aspx