Top Ten Tech Tools for Your Medical Practice

December 4, 2013

Here are 10 time-saving apps and technology tips that can make your personal and professional life easier.

It doesn't matter how busy the other guy tells you he is; you know you are even busier. While you can fit more in a day than the average person and usually accomplish this before they even wake up, that doesn't mean you can't use a little help. Here are 10 time-saving apps and technology tips that can make your personal and professional life easier.

1. Epocrates. It's likely that you know about this mobile drug-reference resource. It's free and as many as 50 percent of U.S. physicians rely on Epocrates to help improve patient safety and increase practice efficiency. For an annual subscription fee, you can also have access to ICD-9 and CPT billing codes, lab tests and panels with reference ranges, and more.

2. Quick response codes. By scanning a QR code (similar to a bar code) using a smartphone camera, you can access data that links your phone directly to a webpage. For example, if you add QR codes to patient statements, patients can easily link to your payment page online. There are multiple, free QR code generation websites: Qrstuff.com, Zxing.appspot.com/generator, Quikqr.com. Create the code, print it, and you're ready to go.

3. Patient education apps. There are plenty of apps to help patients keep track of and understand their health, but two that are particularly useful are:

DrawMD (free in Apple app store) - physicians can sketch, stamp, or type on detailed anatomic images and then save them to the EHR and/or share images with patients.

NumeraNET(free in Apple app store) - patients can share information such as weight, blood pressure, and pedometer results with physicians, who can then send the information to their EHR.

4. Telecommuting. Telecommuting is not just for your transcriptionist - think coding and billing staff and even phone operations. www.telecommute.org

5. Back up data. Not just your practice management system, but your entire PC network so that all those documents and forms and accounts payable records are all safely stored and retrievable if a problem occurs. Investigate Internet-based services for data backup such as HP Live Vault or OffSite Backup.

6. Doximity. This app provides access to a social network for physicians and healthcare professionals across the United States - similar to "LinkedIn." Features include a free digital fax, ability to upload your CV, and earn honoraria. Free.

7. Password management. Passwords, while they can be troublesome, are a necessity. Be sure that you force a password change for all users on your network at least once per quarter. Do not allow staff to post their passwords anywhere. Change all passwords for all staff and providers whenever an employee resigns or is terminated. Check out RoboForm. It provides a master password and inserts a toolbar into your browser to auto-logon for up to 10 applications for free ($29.95 for more).

8. Patient surveys. Survey on the Spot, a free app in Apple's online store, allows you to gather instant feedback on your practice with custom surveys; see compiled survey results in your account and get software alerts when a patient rates your service as poor.

9. Kiosks. Let your patients check-in and make their copayment at a kiosk in your reception area. Some kiosks will even verify insurance eligibility! A few of the vendors you might consider are: OTech Group, ClearWave, SeePoint, and Phreesia.

10. Get in shape. Feeling great can help you be even more productive. Try these two apps for your smartphone:

• Crossfit Daily. Get your daily workout with how-to details, including video. Each workout will provide the benchmark for you and feedback from others attempting these serious exercises. Free.

LoseIt. Enter your daily calorie budget and throughout the day you can add the food you take in and the exercise you complete. Voila! Are you under (weight loss) or over (weight gain) your budget? The app is easy to use, allowing you to create "My Foods" lists, custom recipes, and brand name food lists. Free.

The approach to effective use of technology tools is incremental. If you wait until the next version comes out, or the next upgrade, or the complete interface, or … you will miss many opportunities to reap incremental benefits. "All or nothing" is a losing proposition. Take small steps down the path of technology and you will gain big returns for yourself and for your practice.

Want to meet Rosemarie Nelson and get tips on boosting your medical practice revenue, tips on productivity and compensation and more? Join us May 2 & 3 in Newport Beach, Calif., for Practice Rx, a new conference for physicians and office administrators.

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 at www.mgma.com/consulting/nelson.