5 Technologies That Are Finding Their Home In Modern Clinics

In a doctor’s overscheduled life, the one thing that has elevated premium is ‘time’. Hospital visits, clinics, surgeries, and paperwork are just a few of the things that fill up a doctor’s day. With little or no time left in hand after doing the most important thing that they do, that is to look after their patients, managing a doctor’s diary is no mean feat. However, given the time that we are in, technology is making itself quite comfortable in the doctor’s clinic and helping that ecosystem become more organised, sorted and productive, which, at the end of the day, is making the life of the doctor easier to manage. In this blog, we take a look at five technologies that are making their home in modern day clinics and helping them function better, smarter and with greater efficiency

Appointment Management System

Managing multiple calendars for appointment management is a time-consuming task, one that is prone to the errors of overscheduling which leads to poor time management. Modern day clinics are leveraging appointment management applications that give them a bird’s eye view of the doctor’s schedule and helps them plan, schedule and organise patient appointment better and avoid overlaps. Since most doctors usually have more than one clinic to run, with the help of such a system scheduling and re-scheduling of appointments can be done with greater efficiency and each clinic can keep track of the daily appointment schedule without the burden of unnecessary overlaps.

Patient Data Management

In order to enhance the quality of care and improve patient outcomes, patient data management systems are being leveraged not only by large hospitals but smaller clinics as well. Having a central data repository that contains all the relevant patient information can be a huge boon for the doctors. There are so many times that the doctor and patient’s time is rendered unproductive because the patient is not able to provide some relevant report or health-related information at the time of the appointment. Having a record of all reports, x-rays, blood work, scans, lab reports, and other such test results and patient history etc. in one central database that can be accessed anytime, anywhere ensures that the time spent with the patient is productive and constructive and unnecessary delays are avoided at all costs.

Smartphones aka mHealth

Since smartphones today are being used for everything from managing your banking and finance activities to shopping, why should healthcare be left behind? Doctors today are using their smartphone for a lot more activities than just checking their emails. Healthcare applications that allow them to manage their practice, access patient data and health records, check their clinic’s finances, referrals and resource utilisation etc. are witnessing increased adoption. With the help of technologies such as the cloud, all the information that a doctor could want to ensure that his/her practice is running smoothly is now readily accessible at their fingertips through their smartphone. Utilising such integrated healthcare management applications is helping doctors manage their time better as they can access any piece of information that they want, when they want, irrespective of where they are.

Big Data Analytics

Big Data has generated a lot of hype and the healthcare industry is no stranger to this technology. While for a decade or so, big data adoption was done primarily by larger medical outfits and pharma companies to improve their outcomes, accelerate innovation and drive research, big data analytics is now making its home in modern day clinics as well. Such clinics are utilising data analytics to meet their analytics and reporting needs and improve patient outcomes. For example, with the help of big data analytics, clinics dig deep into patient data and lab results to identify trends in a year when a particular ailment strikes more viciously than others. It can also help them identify patients who are ‘at-risk’ for these ailments and help them take preventive action. Data analytics is also being used in clinics to analyse the relationships between treatment plans and diagnostics, identify potential treatment plans, establish benchmarks for quality, optimise operational workflow management and also create data-driven patient population lists.

AI Diagnostics

While computers and Artificial Intelligence cannot replace doctors, they most certainly can help the doctors by providing them with clinically relevant data in real-time to better patient outcomes. Diagnostic AI systems are already in use in some modern day clinics and use biometric data clubbed with the patients’ health data to assess the conversation between the doctor and patient and make notes and suggest treatment plans. AI systems also send pop-up notifications to the doctor’s phones when they see that a particular medication might not work for a person for some reason such as a genetic trait. This allows the doctor to change the prescribed medication quickly. These systems can also help doctors identify which patients are more likely to require certain medications in the future and assess the risks associated with alternate medications etc.

Just like hospital management systems have made hospital operations better and have significantly helped in improving patient outcomes, adopting technology in the modern day clinic is only going to improve efficiencies, help doctors win the race against time, and enable them to keep their focus on the singularly most important facet of the entire healthcare ecosystem – the patient.

Adoption of Technology by Clinics and Small Hospitals – Why and How?

New technologies and innovation are being adopted in all sectors nowadays. The healthcare industry is catching up with this trend too. The growth of technology is enabling faster and efficient diagnosis and treatments for the patients. This means major competition for the smaller players such as clinics and small hospitals. If they still want to be a part of the growing market and retain their businesses, they need to become a part of the technological whirlwind too. Digitisation on small or big levels will help them retain their customers and provide better patient care, quality, and value.

Let us look at the various problems faced by small and medium-sized hospitals –

Limited Infrastructure and Resources:
Small hospitals face a lot of ground level problems. They function with limited resources. Their small budgets allow them to hire only a certain number of doctors, paramedical staff, and technicians. A lot of times, individuals need to take care of multiple roles to share the burden of work. The infrastructure at smaller clinics and hospitals is set up on a very basic level. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), out of the 57 countries facing the crisis of limited resources in the health sector, India’s rank is 52nd. In another 100-bed hospital at Jhansi, after 4 pm there was only one nurse to cater to all the 100 patients. The impact of deficiency or lack of efficient resources is seen to affect the overall functioning of any hospital. It puts the personnel under pressure, affects the morale of the health workers, and also affects the overall quality of care.

Unavailability or Ignorance of Information:
With the increasing demand for modern healthcare services, it is vital for doctors and physicians in both big and small hospitals to be able to provide high-level consultation and medication to their patients. In smaller hospitals, this is missing due to their ignorance towards professionalism or the lack of information. Poorly functioning sub-centres, PHCs and CHCs result in people having to depend on the bigger hospitals. Overcrowding in hospitals, lack of outreach, unavailability of standards and norms are some of the other problems that give patients no choice but to not trust their services.

Lack of Organisation:
Larger brands of hospitals are more organised and function uniformly across all departments since they make use of high-quality techniques, equipment, and technology. They avoid paperwork by making use of Hospital Management Systems so that all the relevant information is backed up in a single place. They avoid hard copies of all reports and rely on a single online source of information for faster and timely access. All such things are missing in small hospitals because they, in most cases, do not leverage technology to increase their operational efficacy.

What do hospitals need?
So what can help the small and medium-sized hospitals to change the way they have been functioning? They need to adopt a technological system which can help solve these problems.

  • An easy to use Hospital Management System (HMS) can be implemented so that all the people involved in the hospital, including physicians, doctors, nurses, caretakers, laboratory personnel, pathological department, etc. can understand it and make good use of it.
  • The HMS should be capable of providing the schedules and availability of the physicians within the hospital.
  • The HMS should have scalable architecture and configurable workflows so that tasks such as admissions, bed management, nurse management, insurance management, transfers, returns, eligibility, etc. can be undertaken systematically while ensuring that a record of each of them is maintained.
  • There should also be an option of maintaining a detailed medical history of every patient, which can be available whenever required. This would also help doctors make broad or specific reports for the patients and also use them for decision-making. Doctors will not have to spend hours going through paperwork since all the information will be readily available. Integrated functioning of this HMS will help segregate all the data together in one place.

MARS Plus is one such Healthcare Management Systems, which has been created considering the specific needs of Indian Healthcare system. The interface is designed such that it can be setup quickly depending on the size and requirement of the hospital or clinic. It allows a lot of customisations to help the hospital gain maximum benefit out of it even at low costs.

With digitisation and modernisation, inculcating the smartphone for keeping health records, communication between doctors and patients and sharing of data can help. A lot of apps available in the market today provide options to doctors and physicians to manage their lists of patients, appointments, records, files, budgets, and finances. This can help them save time, become more efficient in terms of data storage, improve their performance and, thereby, have a positive impact on the hospitals as well as the patients they are dealing with. The key is to try to integrate all the aspects of health care management using a single solution to meet all needs.

Adopting technology will provide great scope to small hospitals and clinics to come at par with what rest of the players in the health sector are doing. It will bring about a change in the way they have the functioning and allow faster facilitation of processes and treatments.

Financial Management Best Practices for your Practice

Physicians across the country are starting their private practice every day. While doing this, physicians find themselves not only consulting with patients but also find themselves donning many hats in order to run the practice successfully. From being the administrator to the HR to the finance guy, a doctor pretty much has to focus on all aspects of the practice to make sure it is running profitably and that patients are positively engaged. This challenge becomes greater when a doctor has multiple practices to run. Since financial strength is critical to keep a practice running smoothly here are a few finance management best practices that physicians should follow:

Assess all Charges

For proper financial planning, you need a comprehensive view of the charges of your practice. So, it is essential to identify every service that is performed and capture it in an electronic health management system. All vendors, nurses, technicians, staff should be trained to fill in the EHR documenting what services they provide and ensure that proper coding of the services has been done. You have to make sure that no revenue is left on the table owing to improper procedure documentation or wrong diagnosis codes.

Ensure Productivity

The mathematics here is pretty simple – the more productive your providers are, the more financial success your practice will see. Making sure that you have clear and efficient processes in place that enable productivity by ensuring that the entire healthcare ecosystem is connected across a common platform, requires minimal typing to fill and update records, has a central repository that stores attachments such as x-rays and reports in multiple file formats, are just a few ways to ensure this. Additionally, using a healthcare management system, you can foster collaboration by allowing electronic sharing and tracking of reports, lab orders, prescriptions, patient referrals to save time and increase the productivity of the staff. Medical practices also should ensure that the physician’s time is leveraged productively by making sure they are not double booked with a proper appointment management system that gives a consolidated look at the physician’s multiple schedules across multiple clinics.

Provide Clean and Accurate Insurance Information

Providing clean and accurate insurance information forms and very important part of good finance management practice. Making sure that all

insurance information and processes are in place and that all insurance related information is gathered the first time around should be on priority to ensure that the initial submission happens smoothly. Even the smallest mistake can lead to insurance claim denial which can lead to delayed payments which, in turn, increases costs by impacting the revenue stream. To streamline this process and also to identify areas of improvement in processes and systems it becomes essential to conduct periodic audits.

Warrant Effective Collections and Correct Accounting

Having an effective billing system in place forms the crux of a good finance management system. For this, the billing department of a medical practice should be educated clearly on the collection policies and the processes for the same. Along with collection of money that is entitled to the practice, billing departments also have to be properly guided on how to work on claims denials, follow up on aging claims, the process of collecting claims from patients, how and when to send claims to the collections department and when to write off a bad debt. All practices should have simple processes in place that are straightforward enough to understand and implement so that there is minimal resistance during documentation which is essential for compliance.

Implement Correct Accounting and Compliance

You cannot talk about finance management without speaking of proper accounting and compliance. Given that the current healthcare ecosystem has to navigate a rather treacherous compliance landscape, it becomes all the more essential to maintain proper records of all income and expenses. All inflows from multiple clinics, referrals, endorsements, consultation fees, transactions that happen on a daily basis should be properly documented. This will not only ensure that the end of year audits are completed without issues and taxes are filed correctly but also guarantee complete regulatory compliance.

Maximize Revenue Opportunities

Good finance management for medical practices should also look at avenues to maximize revenues. Evaluating contractor payer rates, negotiating best rates with vendors and maintaining cost structures become important components in maximizing revenue opportunities. Further, reviewing costs such as supplies, phone contracts, operational expenses and liability

insurance periodically helps in weeding out unnecessary outflows and increasing revenues.

Paying close attention to finance management aids the success of any medical practice. Ensuring that day to day operations are conducted smoothly are critical to implementing long-term financial goals and also to ensure long-term viability of any practice.

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