Physicians set out to practice medicine for a number of reasons, but many don’t realize how many hours they’ll end up spending away from their patients.
A recent study by Johns Hopkins found that medical interns spent just 12 percent of their time examining and speaking with patients, while 64 percent of the time they were engaged in indirect patient care tasks, such as placing orders, researching their patients’ medical histories, and completing paperwork on the computer.
Practice managers and owners can become burdened with excessive amounts of paperwork as well. So much so, in fact, that a mountain of paperwork is now viewed as a necessary evil—even as it frustrates patients and slows down staff members.
Fortunately, three resources can help practice managers and owners operate more efficiently by reducing paperwork levels:
Electronic Self-Service Solutions
Self-service solutions for patients not only cut down on the amount of physical paperwork that a practice has to keep up with, but also improve each patient’s experience. A recent survey by Digital Assent revealed that 84 percent of patients found the electronic check-in process to be easier than checking in on a sheet of paper attached to a clipboard.
By streamlining data collection, patients no longer have to worry about filling out the same forms repeatedly. The system simply pulls up a patient’s information for him or her to confirm. Electronic self-service solutions empower patients to check in electronically, which expedites patient data collection, reduces physical paperwork, and makes it easier for you to assess a patient’s condition.
Management Service Organizations (MSOs)
MSOs relieve hospitals, practices, and physicians of nonmedical business functions. There are a wide variety of entities that call themselves MSOs. Some exist to provide support only for hospitals, while others focus on assisting private practices. MSOs usually offer customizable solutions for medical professionals and can help with administrative functions such as billing and collections, payroll and other human resources tasks, physician recruitment, group purchasing, IT support, website design, and negotiations with health insurers.
Some practices allow an MSO to take over all practice management responsibilities, but you can also choose to outsource just a few of these tasks to such groups. When responsibilities are outsourced, the burden of completing paperwork now falls on the MSO, which means you can spend more time with your patients.
EHR Software Solutions
EHR software solutions provide physicians with a digital version of all health records that used to be available only in paper form. These systems keep the entirety of a patient’s medical records intact and in one location, eliminating the need to store or track down existing paper records. This makes it much easier for medical personnel to make changes to a patient’s records in the future. And with an EHR system, a patient’s medical record will receive real-time updates and will always be current. You can also program your EHR software to automatically deliver patient records to other public health organizations. This relieves the inevitable headaches brought about by misplaced patient forms.
Many physicians have already made the switch to EHR software solutions. The percentage of physicians using an EHR jumped from 17 percent in 2008 to more than 50 percent today, according to HHS . If you haven’t already implemented EHR software into your practice, you should seriously consider doing so before the end of 2013. If you do and can prove meaningful use, you’ll be eligible to receive a cash incentive from the CMS.
While reducing the amount of paperwork is a major goal for any healthcare practice, the primary benefit of doing so is that it will minimize the amount of time your practice spends completing paperwork, allowing you and your employees to spend more time addressing patients’ needs. Patient self-service solutions, MSOs, and EHR systems not only reduce the amount of paperwork that must be created and stored, but also improve the health of your practice by ensuring that patients receive more personal care and attention.