There are many benefits associated with having a computer office network, regardless of whether you are ready to implement electronic medical records (EMR) or not. For example, what may begin as a helpful suggestion from an employee can blossom into a practice-wide tool which can improve overall productivity.
ProtoQue is a program which was developed in response to a problem we were having with our phone triage: we noticed that many patients were not called back in a timely fashion. This program, which is web-based, lets operators register calls automatically. The patient is then subsequently passed off from there to either medical records or a medical assistant. This program manages the ‘chain of custody’ so that the patient doesn’t slip through the cracks. The issue remains open until the problem is resolved. Every time a patient receives a return phone call, a time stamp is created, so our attempts to contact them are documented. The supervisors can use this application to monitor information flow, delegating calls to additional staff if the team falls behind, regardless of where they are located. We no longer have patients waiting until the next day to have their concerns addressed by our staff. Even though our EMR system, like most, has a messaging feature, we still find this program to be more robust and have continued to use it for over three years.
In addition to the phone triage program, we have designed some in-house programs that help us manage specific tasks, and which would not be possible without our computer network:
- The first helps calculate our eyeglass prescription capture rate, which is broken down by location and individual doctor.
- We also have an optical lab tracker program, which tracks jobs in real time, so an optician can tell a patient precisely when their order will be ready.
- Another custom application completes work-orders, and is located on a network that is accessible by IT, Human Resources, and Facilities. If supplies are needed, or a piece of equipment is damaged, an employee can complete a work-order and send it on to the right person. This facilitates full accountability while the chain of custody among the departments is being managed.
- Our Human Resources staff is working on an application that will let new employees enroll using our own electronic interface.
- A new PQRI Tools program which resulted in a significant federal incentive bonus. It attaches to the practice management system and identifies missed reporting before billing.
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