Measure 10 imes, cut once as they say in the construction trade. My partner, Daniel Shurman, and I heeded this warning when we decided to start a new independent dermatology practice in 2012. I worked together with Shurman, MD, FAAD, dermatologist and Mohs surgeon, for years in a corporate practice that used a homegrown practice management system.
We wanted to build our new practice on a foundation of high quality care, so we decided we would use the best patient-focused practice management technology available. We resolved then, and every day since, to keep pace with technological innovations to better reach and serve our patients.
Once we defined our practice philosophy and goals, we used the same zeal and energy to find an office location in Pennsylvania, build our team, and design our office layout. We researched, shopped, consulted experts, and solicited advice before determining our best choice for a practice management platform. We wanted the technology to give us every efficiency available. We also wanted to be sure that our technology partners would also keep up with current trends and innovations.
Here was our must-have list: simplify the organization and access of patient information, offer state-of-the-art billing and claims management tools, enable excellent customer service, and scale as our practice expanded. Seven years later, our practice has grown from one to 14 different locations. Our practice management technology has helped us every step of the way.
We recently surpassed 10,000 visits per month. We rely on technology as well as our amazing office staff to ensure that each of these patients feels engaged, cared for, and supported.
We currently have 12 physicians, seven nurse practitioners and physician assistants, a front desk person in each office, an intrepid billing team, and eight patient advocates in a customer service center who interact with patients every day.
All employees have their own needs and demands of the practice management tools. It has been a great advantage that our system is flexible enough to fit their various needs and roles. We allow our doctors the freedom to see patients as they see fit. However, we also rely on a centralized administration for communications, information management, payer negotiations, billing, and other essential office tasks.
The practice management software also accommodates our growth as we add offices and staff while allowing us to maintain internal interoperability.
Today’s patients expect personalized engagement. A consumer-oriented mentality is driving care delivery, particularly in specialty medical practices. For providers, this means delivering more options and automating administrative tasks. We have found practice management software is the best way to offer personalized engagement without adding staff or adding to their existing workload.
We strive to make our patient appointment scheduling experience convenient and easy. A good phone system and excellent staff are still the bread and butter of any medical practice (and most businesses in general), but patients should be able to schedule and cancel their visits through an online patient scheduling system that does not require them to pick up the phone.
A growing number of patients appreciate the ability to schedule anytime instead of having to call the office during their lunch break. This functionality also frees our office staff for more pressing patient-centered needs.
In January 2019, our patients scheduled over 400 visits online, up from 330 in June 2018. Since implementing the 24/7 online scheduling option early in 2018, we’ve had a 3 percent increase in new patients, a figure that continues to grow. This anytime, anywhere secure login capability extends to additional communications and information access through the patient portal. Patients can reach out to physicians via online messaging and receive answers in a prompt and secure way.
Our patients have also responded positively to receiving automated reminders for appointments. We used to rely on an expensive outside service for appointment reminders. This service had a poor user experience and regular breakdowns.