Communicate Electronically

June 17, 2010

Electronic communication is omnipresent. Not only is it instantaneous, but in many ways it is becoming the standard of care. No longer does a practice need to create mountains of paperwork.

Electronic communication is omnipresent. Not only is it instantaneous, but in many ways it is becoming the standard of care. No longer does a practice need to go through the multiple processes necessary for creating and sending paper documents. Ever-evolving communication technologies help practices communicate with much more efficiency; saving time and reducing costs.

Instant communication.Interoffice e-mail and instant messaging (IM) can help staff and physicians communicate more efficiently and get information moving faster, while keeping people at their work stations instead of running around the office to deliver a message or track down a physician. E-mail can allow you to send the same message to everyone at the same time, eliminating a grapevine approach that tends to alter the original message as it works its way through the office. It takes only seconds to create, read, and respond to e-mail messages. The time savings is significant.

E-mails also provide a permanent record of all correspondence should you need to retrieve a message at a later time. It’s far easier to hold your staff and colleagues accountable when you have documented proof of what information was transmitted or transferred and when.

Data exchange. E-mail can also transform the way you communicate with colleagues and ancillary services outside the office: sending a referral; scheduling a surgical procedure; ordering labs or diagnostic imaging; and receiving diagnostic reports. These types of communication speed up practice operations, allowing providers and staff to review diagnostic reports, obtain referrals, and check insurance eligibility in a fraction of the time traditional methods require.

Research. When you come across information online that may help your staff, e-mail them a copy. It’s a great way to share updated billing information with the billing manager, provide a customer service article for support staff, or to tell everyone about legal mandates the practice is facing.

E-banking. If you are still handling mail-in payments at the office, stop. This is time consuming and slows down the nightly deposit. Most banks offer a lock-box with automated deposit service. The bank deposits the day’s checks and e-mails your practice an itemized list of each deposit with the accompanying EOB. Automating deposits has immediate benefits for your practice in terms of reducing manpower, and increasing security by acting as a deterrent to potential embezzlers. This service is well-worth the minimal cost to your practice.

The prospects for e-communication are endless once you begin to explore what’s out there. It’s time to get off the phone and get online.

Judy Capko is a healthcare consultant and author of the popular books “Secrets of the Best Run Practices” and “Take Back Time.” Based in Thousand Oaks, Calif., she is a national speaker on healthcare topics. She can be reached at judy@capko.com or 805 499 9203.