Time-saving, safety and security: Technology to cope with COVID-19 protocols in your practice
June 8, 2021 By mindZplay Solutions Staff
Practitioners today are deeply concerned about protecting both themselves and their patients, but new COVID-19 sanitation and screening protocols are a big addition to an already heavy workload, particularly for independent practitioners. Minimizing patient contact and risk is a vital but daunting task for practitioners already struggling to keep up with their day to day activities. Recording new documentation requirements, sanitizing every surface and keeping up with new protocol developments is a lot to handle even for bigger clinics. This is why now, more than ever, an online practice management system is essential to keeping your practice running smoothly.
Managing appointment scheduling, patient intake forms, and COVID-19 screenings all manually is not a practical concept anymore. Efficiency has always been important, but in healthcare today this concept is critical. If you have never used a practice management system, now is the time to make that change.
There is too much paper, too much time, and too much direct patient-practitioner interaction required to manage a clinic the traditional way. If you are looking for a practice management system, or just seeking opportunities to get more out of the one you have, here are some places your business can benefit from an improved and more “COVID-19 safe” digital workflow.
Let us begin with your very first interaction with a patient: booking the appointment. If you provide online booking, you are both saving your own time by reducing the number of calls you take and making the booking process more convenient for your patients. While this is not strictly COVID-19 related, it is a part of most practice management systems and convenience is a key factor when it comes to keeping your patients (and potential patients) happy.
Allowing patients to take their time filling out intake forms on site, while traditional, is now a major concern for massage therapists who must thoroughly disinfect their entire space between patients. In addition, practitioners now have to minimize the number of patients in their clinic at any one time to ensure that social distancing is maintained – increased patient time on site completing paper intake forms translates to additional risk for both patients, practitioners, and clinic staff.
One of the benefits of a paperless work environment is that it provides you with the ability to have patients fill out any required intake forms online instead of at the clinic. This not only keeps your day flowing smoothly, it also allows patients to fill out things like health history, consent, and COVID-19 pre-screening forms before they leave home. Having them do this in advance reduces contact, making the process safer and more convenient for all concerned. By reducing patient time in your clinic, you are freeing up valuable time that can then be used to keep up with the necessary COVID-19 sanitization protocols, to squeeze in additional treatments, and / or to take care of general administration duties.
If you are currently doing patient pre-screening manually by phone or by e-mail, you should know that a good practice management system will automatically save completed forms in your patient’s digital file for you – saving you time, paper, and physical storage space. (An uncluttered environment is both more efficient and more welcoming to patients.)
Be sure to review the forms available when choosing software, to ensure that they include the correct COVID-19 forms for your area. Requirements may vary from region to region, so a generic form is often used by default. Be sure to ask the vendor’s support staff for assistance locating the correct form for your region.
Given the reduced number of patients you are able to see with the new COVID-19 restrictions and sanitation steps, it is critical to ensure that every patient that books with you arrives at the clinic, and is moved through as efficiently as possible. E-mail and text message appointment reminders can not only save you time by eliminating follow-up telephone reminders, but also greatly reduce the risk of patients forgetting their appointment time (a leading cause of no-shows.)
Something else to consider is delivering treatment receipts digitally via e-mail, as opposed to printing paper copies. This method is considerably more convenient for patients, and it is safer for them too, as it removes the need for them to take anything physical from your clinic home with them – cutting out an additional risk factor. It also reduces your use of paper and ink, saving you both time and money.
Saving yourself time is important, but when trying to retain patients in a difficult climate, it is also useful to think about patient convenience. Submitting claims to insurance companies via direct billing, for example, is now a much easier process for practitioners to complete than it is for patients.
Whether you have an existing system or are looking into practice management for the first time, incorporating services such as direct billing to your patient’s insurance companies into your digital workflow can be a major benefit both for yourself and your patients. This helps you to retain your existing clients by preventing them from seeking out another practitioner who offers direct billing. Remember, attracting new patients and holding onto current ones is critical to weathering the storm presented by this pandemic.
While the current COVID-19 situation is exceptional, in this modern age, we are fortunate to have some truly excellent tools at our disposal to help us manage our work day while keeping ourselves and our patients as safe as possible. That said, there is no substitute for the wisdom of experts. If you are considering going digital, be sure to contact the support team for any software you are considering. It is always a good idea (and a big time saver) to have someone who already knows the software to help set you up for success by putting you directly onto the right path.
mindZplay Solutions Inc., a provider of massage therapy websites and practice management solutions. To learn more, visit massagemanedger.com.
This article was originally published in the Fall 2020 edition of Massage Therapy Canada, and published online November 2020.
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