Most practice owners face the tangled problem of over-worked staff and under-satisfied visitors. Though many steps are taken to ensure patient satisfaction at the chair-side, the experience of checking in and checking out has always remained a pain to the patient. This becomes worse with over-burdened employees who juggle managing patients and maintaining paperwork.
A lot of this work is mundane and redundant and do not require a capable human resource. With today’s technology, they can be automated with considerably less cost. Imagine how your practice would change if your front office employees could dedicate much more time to managing patients? Or even to marketing efforts to help expand your practice.
Automation with practice management systems
An efficient practice management system can transform a dental practice into not only a clinical success, but also a smooth running business operation. Task automation is key to a modern practice management system.
A variety of tasks like routine documentation, record keeping, information transfer, eligibility checks, ERA postings and even marketing campaigns can be automated. Several elements of patient engagement like confirmation calls and reminders can be automated.
Utilizing an integrated practice management system with advanced automation ability is almost like hiring a new team to handle routine tasks, with negligible increase in cost. Every practice, regardless of its size should opt of automation, though the savings increase substantially as the size of the practice increases.
Automation features to look for while choosing a practice management system:
Business rule manager
One of the biggest challenges any practice owner of a large practice faces is not in deciding what strategy to take. It is in implementing it. Policies and rules that are rolled out are often relaxed or bypassed at several points that it becomes difficult to initiate change for progress in the practice. Management policies are decisions made to standardize the organizational workflows of the practice. These are policies that bind practices, requiring them to adhere to a uniform structure. Few practice management systems feature a business rule management module to set up a rules engine for alerting users in the event of a non-compliant action.
As we discussed above, a lot of work that takes up the time of your employees is routine procedural work. This can be easily managed and automated across locations using a central workflow manager. The triggers, outcomes, frequency and the schedules can be defined for the workflows, allowing you the complete freedom to utilize existing workflows and processes more effectively. This flexibility is particularly important because the closer your newer system is to your existing practice, the better your implementation will be.
One of the tasks, that should take up a large percentage of the time of practice managers but rarely does, is marketing. Active regular marketing efforts are often forgotten between tight schedules and day to day problem solving. However, it is important to note that your patients are receiving your marketing communication and they are noticing your consistency. Automated campaigns across web, email and social media for new patient acquisition enable your practice to stay competitive with low additional work-loads, while maintaining high levels of responsiveness to your patients across all platforms.
A simple reminder about the appointment time is a proven method to reduce missed or dropped appointments. This creates high impact on your profits because, all those wasted hours which are incurring all your overheads is utilized in active production, when those slots are actively re-assigned. But, the problem every practice faces is in figuring out who can manage all that communication. Automated patient communications for clinical follow ups and appointment confirmations automate this process and update the records accordingly.
Many practices suffer from cash-flow trouble due to mismanagement of the necessary documentation. Automation can not just save valuable time and effort, it also reduces errors in processing and brings predictability to your cash flows.
Eligibility verification: Automatic eligibility verification
ERA auto posting: Based on a set of remittance posting rules, auto post ERA’s and only have manual intervention to handle exceptions.
Collections and payment follow-ups: Send details of defaulting patients automatically to collection agencies and ensure quicker collections.
Patients are the life-line of your practice. The more you know about them, the better your communication with them becomes. The more active and engaging your conversations are, your patients stick to you and refer more patients. However, this is one area that most practices have mostly ignored. Patients are not files to be processed and need individual recognition, attention and care. Several aspects of this process involve something as simple as a courtesy text or a reminder. Automation can ensure that the right data about patients is collected and made accessible to your team even before their first call. Automation also helps in collecting patient feedback, making sure your patients always feel you listen to them.
Online and custom forms: Customize and integrate patient intake forms on the web and automate the capture of patient information.
Patient surveys: Automatically email patient surveys after appointments and prompt them to rate the practice experience online.
Reports and dashboards
Most practice owners are well aware of the benefits of reporting and follow-up with every team member and every aspect of their practice. However, even when such policies, they break down due to inconsistency and the difficulty in imposing this on the team. A practice management system with automation, makes this process consistent and passive, making implementation as easy as setting it up. View reports and personalized dashboards that are generated automatically on the basis of defined rules and triggers of locations, providers and modules regularly and manage your practice better.
Automation is a part of the modern day technology and the healthcare industry is no exception. In dentistry, especially, it gives the means to enhance small to mid-sized, solo or group, practices to reach their full potential.