Do you believe in the power of information? Do you believe media such as TV, radio, newspaper, magazine hold a lot of power by providing information to people? If your answer is “Yes,” we are on the same page and you may find this article very interesting. Now, have you ever thought you can use the power of information to be a better doctor? Have you ever thought you can use the power of information to improve your practice? Let’s talk about it and see how we can achieve this.
Every day in your office, you use the power of information. As an example, during the first visit of a new patient, the doctor asks a bunch of questions to the patient. He extracts as much information as possible to understand what is going wrong. The more accurate the information is, the easier it will be to establish a precise diagnosis. This also means it will be much easier for the doctor to provide accurate treatments and obtain better health improvement results for his patient. This process started with information given by the patient.
Another example is insurance. Let’s assume you are involved in an auditing process for some insurance claims. The only thing the auditor wants from you is information. That’s it; that’s all. No more and no less. He wants information about the diagnosis of the patient, on how you established his frequency of care, what kind of treatments you were providing, etc. Information runs your practice and your life every day.
Providing information is what computer software does the best. Good chances are that you already have a computer system in your office; but, are you using it the right way? Are you using it to improve yourself as a doctor? Are you using it to improve your practice overall performance?
Providing information is what computer software does the best.[/pullquote]
I am positive, a good computer and software system can help you to improve your patient health, improve your practice, and can provide you a better quality of personal life. This is a huge statement, but I will strongly defend my position for the rest of my life. There is a good reason why I use the verb “can” instead of “will”. Because the computer system will not do it by itself. You, as a doctor, will have to do it, using the information system.
I could probably write one hundred pages on how to use your system more efficiently to achieve these goals. For the purpose of this article, I will share a few scenarios on how you can use the power of information for an overall improvement.
Scenario 1: Let’s say you are working with a paper documentation system. Today, you have 40 patients coming in. You enter in the treatment room for the first patient. He is in the treatment room, waiting for you. You ask your patient a few questions to establish the subjective part of your documentation and to find out where he stands with his chiropractic care. Although this patient has been under your care for 3 weeks, he says he is not really improving, he is still in pain and you can feel he is starting to have some doubts about his chiropractic care. You are very surprised about the patient’s statement. To find out why this is happening, you are trying to read your notes from previous visits, but your writing may not be very clear to a point where you can hardly read it yourself. And, for some reason, you cannot find anything that could give you a clear answer as to why this is happening.
This scenario can be very different with an automated EHR system. While waiting in the treatment room, the patient answers a pesonalized subjective questionnaire using a simple Touch screen. This patient action will feed you with valuable information. When you enter into the room, you press a key to display the doctor’s section of the system and you can easily read the subjective documentation on the screen. As a bonus, you also have a note from your CA saying that this patient made a complaint at the front desk about his pain and lack of improvement. At a glance, you see the patient’s frequency table, which indicates if the patient follows your care recommendations. Although you have recommended 3 treatments per week for the first 3 weeks, you are instantly informed by your computer system that this patient only came once last week and he missed his 2 other appointments. You press another key and your patient’s X-Rays display, full screen. Instantly, you see (thus, remember) severe cervical and thoracix subluxations. No question, no doubt. All this precious information is giving you all the answers you need. Then you turn around and tell your patient, “Gary, you and I realize it is difficult to resolve your pain and improve your health. Unfortunately, you could not make it twice last week and you missed 2 important treatments. At this early stage of your care, it is important to get 3 treatments per week in order to get better health results and obtain improvement. Can you make it 3 times this week? “
Scenario 2: You are not really happy about how your chiropractic office goes, particularly with patient visits. It was much better a few years ago. Is the problem related to the bad economy? You can help a lot more people, but it seems very difficult to grow back to where you were or surpass it. You have enough new patients, but you still do not grow. Your bills are coming in fast each month, much faster than your insurance checks. You have many discussions with your CA and nothing important seems to be going wrong. You are slowly losing patience and, at home, you constantly think about this situation. This is not fun for you, your staff or your family. If you do have an automated EHR system with an integrated statistic and graphics module, the scenario may be much different. These graphics will give you very important information. You select your graphic section and look at a few of them to see what is really happening. Compared to last year, you see that the percentage of patients who missed their appointments is slowly increasing from 5% to 15%. Worse, you see that the percentage of patients who leave your practice after a treatment without any other appointment goes from 10% to 30%. These statistics graphics are telling you that more chiropractic commitment and patient education are needed. So, maybe the problem was not related to the bad economy at all. This kind of information is crucial to maintaining your practice to its best possible potential. Please get it, one way or the other, but get it.
You can have that peace of mind, if you know that your documentation and billing were done real time and accurately.
Last scenario: Your personal life. Are you working 50 or 60 hours a week? Are you still in your office 1 hour after the last treatment, trying to keep up with billing and documentation? My father used to tell me, “If you work hard, it is because you do not work smart enough” Now, I understand what he meant. Good organization is the key to the success of any business, including health businesses. Everyone agrees that balance in life is important. This means spending our time efficiently between work, family, vacations and activities. The better you are at using your computer and software system, the more time you will have for you. This is not a mere statement, this is what many doctors experience every day. Five minutes after your last treatment, your office door should be locked. While at home, you should never have negative thoughts about your office. You can have that peace of mind, if you know that your documentation and billing were done real time and accurately. Then you are not scared about any possible auditing. You and your staff will be happy. This is how a powerful information system will help you to get your life back.
The power of information is much stronger than most people think. The biggest marketing companies are very careful about which information is given and how it is spreading out. Are you doing the same thing for your office? Information is a powerful tool you can use for your benefit. As everything else, it has to be well planned and well implemented in every aspect of your practice.
Claude Cote is an expert in EHR systems, insurance billing and chiropractic clinic management for 22 years. He has installed EHR system in 17 countries over 5 continents and nationwide in USA. He is the President and Founder of Platinum System C.R. Corp (www.platinumsystem.com). For comments or questions, please email to [email protected].