Harnessing Technology

October 22, 2009
Rosemarie Nelson

Technological advances have revolutionized clinical practice, and they have also introduced new, innovative, and better ways to manage your business practices.

Technological advances have revolutionized clinical practice, and they have also introduced new, innovative, and better ways to manage your business practices. From protecting confidential patient data, to improving your ability to access information when and where you need it, technology has become a key player in protecting your business interests. Here are some of the ways that technology can be used to improve your practice:

Protecting data. Digital dictation isn’t very new, but there are still too many physicians using cassette tapes to dictate patient notes. If even one tape goes missing, you will have to laboriously recreate your patient documentation - not an easy task, especially if it happens two or three days after the date of the patient visit. Digital dictation can be stored indefinitely. And, the beauty of those digital files is that “on-call” physicians can listen to your dictation if they cannot access the transcribed document - a distinct advantage if they are working after hours, from a remote site, or don’t have time to retrieve a paper chart.

Maximizing time. Are you frustrated with the time it takes to conduct repetitive patient counseling? Or, it may seem that your practice continues to receive too many telephone calls asking simple questions like: “If I don’t put cream in my coffee, is that a clear liquid?” Why not create a podcast or two as supplemental educational materials for your patients? In addition to the instructions and education your team provides during the patient encounter, you can write “a prescription” for your patient to listen to an educational podcast on your practice Web site. The podcast can review and supplement all the information that your nurses routinely address in those follow-up telephone calls. And, you only had to say it once!

Ordering supplies. Many medical supply companies provide online shopping lists via their Web site. In fact, the more advanced companies even let you scan the product bar codes so you don’t have to type in your orders, which eliminates the risk of ordering the wrong item because of a typo. You can even manage your supply closet so that you don’t end up with, say, too many medium gloves and too few large gloves. Ask your distributor if their service includes the following features:

  • Error-free ordering

  • Barcode labels

  • Stock controls to eliminate product overstocks

  • Practice order history

Accessing data instantly.

Nowadays,

mobile phones

have applications that rival the functions and features of home computers. But, be careful. Along with the added convenience are increased

security risks

. This new generation of mobile phones should only be used with frequently updated security software that includes: operating system patches, firewalls, anti-spam software, anti-virus software, anti-spyware software, and file encryption. Remember, the same basic guidelines for Internet safety that you practice with your business computer apply to your Internet-enabled mobile phone as well.

Don’t be reluctant to use technology to improve your business operations and increase practice efficiencies; but be proactive and do it in a secure manner. You’ll be glad you did.

Rosemarie Nelson is a principal with the MGMA healthcare consulting group. She conducts educational seminars and provides keynote speeches on a variety of healthcare-technology and operational topics. Drawing upon her diverse experience, Nelson provides practical solutions to help medical groups succeed in their practices. She may be reached via physicianspractice@cmpmedica.com.