It is a well known fact that physicians work long hours. But what do these hours actually entail? Could their valuable time be spent on more important and time-crucial tasks? The problem is, most physicians don't have time to stop and ask themselves these important questions.
The numbers tell a story
In a recent study, researchers from the Australian Institute of Health Innovation in partnership with Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System and the American Medical Association (AMA) looked at 57 practices to determine how much time physicians were spending face-to-face with their patients.
The study revealed that for every hour physicians provided direct clinical face time to patients, nearly 2 additional hours were spent on EHR and desk work within the clinic day, The desk based work included recording health data, completing medication orders, reviewing test results, and other administrative and practice management tasks. For physicians who reported working after hours, this generally involved an additional 1 to 2 hours of work each night, most of which was devoted to EHR tasks.
Another recent Swiss study confirmed similarly low ratios of time spent with patients versus time spent on administrative tasks and also revealed that this ratio has stayed fairly consistent for the last 50 years.
So, is there an alternative?
Time for a change
Healthcare technology – and medical practice management software in particular – has evolved rapidly in recent years. So how can you tell if your practice management software is pulling its weight? The following four questions will help you to determine if it’s time to reassess your current solution:
Q1. Are you spending more time on administrative tasks than you are on face-to-face patient care?
The volume of administrative tasks modern physicians are exposed to is significant and is exacerbated by the use of outdated medical practice software that does not streamline workflows or automate common tasks. Any inefficiency that exists–whether it’s spending too much time on paperwork, chasing down patient information or setting follow-up tasks–wastes valuable time and results in fewer patients accessing the care they need..
By investing in your systems and keeping your technology up-to-date, you’re:
- eliminating the excessive administrative workload that is burdensome to you and your team
- introducing smarter information collection and sharing, improving the speed of patient care
- freeing up time for face-to-face patient care
Q2. Can you create custom views to easily access the information you need?
One size fits all software doesn’t work. There is too much variation between the types of clinics, patients, and care models for a single view to be able to show each physician the information that is most relevant to them.
Even among physicians working within the same practice who are treating the same profile of patients, individual preferences will determine what type of data is most important to creating efficient workflows and reducing the amount of time spent looking at computers rather than speaking with patients.
Q3. Can you view financial reports and forecast revenue for your clinic?
Physicians should take ownership of the business aspects of the clinic, and one of the most important aspects of this is implementing a platform that allows you to monitor and improve the financial success of the practice.
The best medical practice management software not only helps improve the efficiency of practice planning, marketing, and management but also integrates with your existing accounting software, allowing you to view real-time financial reports and forecast revenue to make business decisions using the best information possible. This type of integration also includes other benefits such as automatic reconciliation of invoices and the ability to instantly share billing data and other financials with your accountant. These features lead to genuine time savings.
Q4. Are your patients able to communicate with you and provide information and results pre-consult?
Patient engagement and increasing patient involvement in all aspects of their health care is vital in creating a care model that meets patient expectations and takes advantage of modern technology. Establishing efficient processes that involve patients in their individual care journey and using their preferred communications method is the way forward.
Your practice management software should enable patients to access simpler and more efficient communication pathways so that health information such as test results can be shared and collaboration on better outcomes can be sought. This can come in the form of patient portals or apps that allow patients to digitally access and share relevant information on the go.
Over to you
As physicians, smarter healthcare begins by equipping yourself and your team with the right tools and technology. With the volume of patient data being generated, without efficient, modern practice management software it simply isn’t possible to deal with the administrative tasks associated with patient care in a timely manner. By leveraging practice management workflows and automations that streamline administrative duties, it will allow you to increase the amount of time available for patient care.
A broader view should also be embraced, where physicians are encouraged to think more like entrepreneurs and truly thrive in the current healthcare environment. We've put together a guide that discusses how to grow your practice with an entrepreneurial mindset – get your copy by clicking the image below. 👇