8 Ways to Use Technology to Digitize the Patient Journey

Lea Chatham May 5th, 2014

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Dr Tom Giannulli Practice RxBy Tom Giannulli, MD

The Internet and cloud-based technology have changed almost every industry—from shopping to banking. As consumers, we are plugged in, but the one industry hasn’t seen a total transformation and that is healthcare—yet!

As patient expectations and reimbursement models change, technology is catching up in healthcare. There are solutions that can help you digitize the patient journey to improve outcomes, satisfaction, and revenue.

I talked about this topic recently at Practice Rx. In my presentation, I looked at the old way and the new ways and discussed how technology is becoming an integral and important part of improving the patient experience.


Out with the Old
The ways we have traditionally interacted with patients just doesn’t cut it anymore.Tweet this Kareo story

  1. Patients lacked choices. A patient may have seen a provider because it was someone their family always saw or someone on a payer or health system list.
  2. Waiting on hold to get an appointment was common. They could only reach you during office hours and had to take what they could get.
  3. Patient intake was tedious and error prone. You mailed forms or had patients come in 30 minutes ahead. The forms were handwritten and could be misinterpreted. Mistakes in data entry caused problems with eligibility and claim submission.
  4. Reminders were spotty at best. Even though the average practice had nearly a 10% no-show rate, many didn’t use reminders. Missed appointments are bad for patient care and for practice income.
  5. Clinical encounters were done by hand. Lots of handwriting equals lots of room for mistakes. From hard to read prescriptions to missing lab test requests, there was potential for a lot of clinical errors. In addition, patients have poor recall and nothing to fall back on for guidance on treatments. There were also a lot of opportunities for billing errors when documentation wasn’t clear and the wrong codes were used or information was missing in the claim.
  6. You couldn’t track quality measures. Because you couldn’t track quality measures there was no way to participate in incentives like Meaningful Use or get involved in programs like Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH). In addition, you could see up to a 10% reduction in Medicare Part B claims in five years.
  7. Medical billing had high denials and A/R. When medical billing was done manually, claims had errors, denials were higher, days in A/R were longer and cash flow was unreliable.
  8. There was little to no patient engagement outside the actual visit.  

In with the New
There are now new and much more efficient ways to do things that improve care and outcomes and streamline billing.Tweet this Kareo story

  1. Patients choose providers based on quality, convenience, and services. They can find a provider through Internet search, rating sites, online reviews, patient communities, and more.
  2. There is easy 24/7 online appointment scheduling. Practices can increase the number of appointments available with new scheduling models and offer appointment scheduling online. Patients have more access and practices increase visits.
  3. Patients can complete forms electronically. Quick and easy online forms let patients complete them faster and they can be typed in, which improves accuracy for the practice. The bonus is that patients don’t have to allot as much time to get in early for the appointment.
  4. Reminders cut missed appointments nearly in half. Patients can choose the reminder type they want and everyone gets one—automatically! You can offer text, email, phone, or mail reminders with no extra staff time needed.
  5. Providers complete clinical encounters electronically. The visit documentation is more thorough and prescriptions and labs are clear, accurate, and fast. Patients can get printed clinical summaries and patient education to improve compliance and outcomes.
  6. Track quality measures easily. With an EHR, you can track quality measures and participate in incentive programs like Meaningful Use, avoid penalties, and programs like PCMH, ACOs and pay-for-performance. Plus you are positioned for future value-based reimbursement opportunities.
  7. Totally automated medical billing improves revenue. Fully integrated EHR, billing, and practice management allows you to complete more accurate patient demographics and an electronic superbill and submit claims with the push of a button. Streamlining these processes allows you to submit claims daily to improve cash flow while achieving best practice metrics like <5% denials, <40 average days in A/R, and net collections of 96-98%.
  8. Today, you can have an ongoing relationship with patients. Tweet this Kareo story
    Using your website and patient portal, social media, and patient-selected reminder and recall methods, you can engage with patients 24/7. You can also offer tools to help patients manage their health and wellness and pay their bills.

To move in to the “new”, I have three simple recommendations. Choose a fully integrated solution that provides EHR, practice management, and revenue cycle management. Pick a vendor that offers these integrated solutions in a cloud-based environment so you have anytime, anywhere access and regular updates. And, finally, make sure your EHR has a robust mobile option. Then, leverage all this technology at every interaction with patients.  When you do, you’ll be positioned to stay competitive long in the future no matter what comes along.

If you’re looking for ways to further improve the patient experience, download the Patient-Centered Practice Checklist.

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