New Technology - R U Ready?

Once upon a time, paper-based records lived happily in the office. Then in the 1990s, Microsoft huffed and puffed and starting blowing the paper away. Doing a ‘back up” became policy and procedure and we couldn’t live without our floppy disks .......... Today, we use technology as a practice improvement strategy like never before.

Practitioners can access patient records over the internet in a matter of seconds from satellite locations, telephony systems are now a force to be reckoned with – from caller ID and VOIP options to transferring calls directly to the Doctors mobile. The ‘need for speed’ has increased and we have
seen dial-up internet expand to ADSL2. These technologies add value to a practice by improving access, flexibility and productivity.

Practice Managers also need to determine if new technology is a benefit to the practice. For example with SMS reminders, managers need to ask, does this practice have a high rate of no-shows or DNAs and/or do we routinely confirm appointments?

If yes, then using SMS is a valuable and cost effective tool. If not, it is just another expense. When implementing SMS reminders, ensure your software manages it efficiently, patients are aware of the facility with the option to opt-out (ideally as part of the patient registration process) and that the practice privacy policy is updated. Ensure front desk staff have received appropriate training and actively use it.

Implementing any practice improvement strategy requires compliance with relevant legislation, national privacy principles, accreditation and medico legal guidelines. Policies and procedures can get sidelined in the excitement of implementation, often being your only defence against a medico legal claim. It is important to note here that Practice Managers may also be subject to a medico legal claim and as such should ensure adequate documentation is in place.
So, when considering introducing new technological strategies into your practice, follow the yellow brick road rules: research the path, educate the travellers, watch out for ‘witches’ and make sure that what you achieve at the end is what you had planned for.

Author: Deana Scott