Tech Tips That Will Save Your Medical Practice Time, Reduce Stress

October 8, 2013

MGMA consultant Rosemarie Nelson offers dozens of suggestions on how practices can get the most out of today's technology.

Healthcare technology isn't being hailed by every practice manager or physician in the country. Yet many of these less-tech-savvy types still enjoy the power of a good iPhone app, or the benefits of saving an hour of a receptionist's time on the phone.

At the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) Annual Conference, Rosemarie Nelson, an MGMA healthcare consultant, empathized with harried administrators and physicians who long to improve the lives of their patients. And in doing so, she offered more than two dozen technology tips in a hyper-fast session, "30 Tech Tips in 30 Minutes," intended to improve efficiency.

Here are several pearls of wisdom Nelson imparted during her session, organized into five respective categories.

1. Target the mobile patient. It's not news that patients are increasingly on the go, toting their smartphones and media tablets to the park, the office, and even the
dinner table. And an increasing number of them are using mobile phones to pay bills, look up health information, and connect with their physicians. So, is your practice offering mobile connectivity through its patient portal so your patient can do all these things
via a wireless device? "If your portal isn't accessible in a mobile format, you're missing a great opportunity," says Nelson. The bottom line: Make sure your portal has mobile capabilities.

2. Encourage physicians to download free or low-cost apps. There's about a zillion healthcare apps available through Apple's iOS or Google's Android platform, the two leading smartphone platforms used by consumers and physicians. Even better, many of them are free and can help physicians connect with patients in big ways. Nelson offered the example of DrawMD, an app that lets physicians sketch, stamp, or type on detailed anatomic images, then save it to their EHRs.

3. Bolster security. While not a direct tip related to improving efficiency, most physicians agree that being dinged for violating the HIPAA Security Rule will definitely make a practice less efficient. And with laptops and their smaller electronic companions a constant target for thieves and hackers, making sure you have secure systems in place to prevent access to protected health information (PHI) is a must. Nelson suggested looking into apps such as Squareup.com, which allows businesses to save credit-card payments at remote sites. She also suggested changing your passwords on a regular basis and using password keeper applications to track them.

4. Revisit, market your website. Chances are your medical practice has a website. But it may have been a while since you last updated it, or, perhaps you're not using it to its fullest potential. One tip for changing that is to include frequently asked questions (FAQs) online. "Think about getting nurses off the phone and patients back onto your website," said Nelson. You can also use your website to offer online scheduling for things such as flu-shot clinics, or to offer downloadable electronic forms. And don't forget about promotion. "You should have something playing on your flatscreen TV set in your waiting room about your website," said Nelson.

5. Ditch the big books. There are more than a dozen great coding websites and digital resources available in the marketplace - but your coding staff may not be using them. The mere suggestion by Nelson not to order coding books had many in the audience laughing. To that, Nelson responded that once coders start using online tools such as Skyscape or RN FastFacts, they end up preferring them to big paper books.