Putting Ease in Visiting the Dr’s Office

I opened my mail today and found a bill for a no-show fee from my dermatologist. Not happy. After multiple tries to cancel, I finally resorted to leaving a voicemail on their machine. So, in my fury, it got me thinking (insert Windows 7 self here) … what if health care providers entered the 21st century?

I know that many physicians are moving online. It makes sense! For me, the second place I look for physician recommendations is online (the first – family/friend recommendations). I ask these questions: are there online reviews of the physician; does the practice’s website look professional; does the physcian take my insurance? So after I get through all these question, I look for the “Contact Us” box, pick up my phone and make the call.

As I dial, I start to wonder, is there another way of doing this? Maybe. Below are a few things healthcare providers can do to increase efficiencies, reduce cost and improve service.

  1. Online Appointment Scheduling: This allows for patients to make appointments off-hours, based on availability of our physician. Additionally, this allows me to cancel the appointment with ease. It’s like booking a hotel really!
  2. Text/Email Reminders:  After easily making my appointment, I would receive a confirmation email of my appointment! Better yet, it sends me an Outlook calendar with a reminder of paperwork I may need to fill out. Also, a few days before my appointment, I receive a text message reminder rather than having an automated machine leave a voice message on my cell, or having someone call me (see cost-savings and maximizing efficiencies)
  3. Pre-Visit Paperwork Online: I saw this once and absolutely loved it! After I scheduled my appointment, the receptionist told me to go online and fill out my paperwork to save me the 30 extra minutes I needed to arrive. Instead, I filled out all the forms about my health history online! On the day of my appointment, I was in! No cramped hand from writing in small boxes! Double win.
  4. Online Bill Pay: This is an easy one and lost of HCPs are already doing this. It  makes everyone’s lives easier!

Some of you may be thinking – well these are quite expensive ventures. I disagree. The number of people who are currently working in doctors’ offices can be reduced because work will be transitioned from appointment work and computing data.  Also, online scheduling and confirmations means less likelihood of no shows, so more patients in the door. We’ll maximize utilization of staff, increase flow of patients and reduce redundancies. Plus, we won’t have to wait on hold for 15 minutes listening to elevator music.

What do you think? What are things you wish your doctor’s office would move online?

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Posted on September 9, 2010, in Public Health/HC, Web/Tech and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I’d love for our office to operate as you described. I’m guessing one day it will. But… let me give you a glimpse inside a meeting where we discuss just one of these points (number three).
    There are three of us in the meeting. We all have graduate degrees. We think we’re pretty smart. To varying degrees, we like and and are intimidated by computer technology.
    So, we want our clients to be able to fill out forms online. We’re a small group, so we have IT people on contract. We discuss privacy with them. They tell us the encryption program that’s the industry standard isn’t compatible with our – what? I’m not really sure I remember and I’m not sure I fully understood at the time. The IT people aren’t in house, so we can’t just ask. But, we’re pretty sure that what looked like a modest software expense is now looking like a much larger expense. This one change won’t bring noticeable savings, at least not quickly. There are three other items on the agenda. We’ve scheduled an hour and used up half of it. We move on to more pressing concerns.

  2. Hi Gbe! Thanks so much for your comment. You’re right – this isn’t an easy fight. For a change like this, it will require an infrastructure change. As more and more options become available, cost will be more competitive and reasonable, for practices like yours. There will not be fast cost-savings, but what usually is? It will take time (and $$) to implement, but I’m confident that we’ll start seeing more and more practices moving in this direction. I’m sure that there was a time when we all said that computers would cost too much and not result in immediate savings, because of training time and networking needs.

    Appreciate your thoughts! Please keep me updated on how your team is using technology.

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