Guest Post, William McClain, MBA
If you are a practicing physician today, your world is being buffeted and reshaped by a dizzying confluence of disparate external forces. The federal push for EMR adoption, HIPAA security rules, practice needs for greater operating efficiency and productivity, “retail consumerism”, increasing market competition and the steady advance of medical and information technology are just a few of the influences changing the profession as you know it. Practicing the noble calling of medicine has never been more complex or challenging.
These forces of change touch virtually every aspect of how your practice operates, including how patient information is captured, entered, stored and exchanged. The combination of federally mandated security rules, Meaningful Use requirements, the need for greater productivity, efficiency and patient convenience, plus innovative new software technologies is now making the age-old clipboard and paper registration process a dinosaur. Add to that list the fact that 90 million e-consumers in our country are projected to be tablet users in the next two years, as reported by eMarketer.com.
So what does all of this “background noise” mean for you and your practice? Clearly, there are compelling, manifold reasons for migrating your practice from the risk-laden and inefficient pen and paper registration process to a secure, integrated electronic solution.
Paperless registration can provide substantial benefits, including: secure and exchangeable patient information; elimination of costly, redundant and error prone data re-entry; HIPAA-compliance; and enhanced patient convenience for initial registration and periodic updates.
Virtually all paperless registration software programs offer benefits for your practice. However, it is important to understand that not all paperless systems are created equal. Your evaluation of the software options available today should be as evidence based as your clinical decision making.
When you consider a paperless registration system for your practice, be sure to look for key “differentiators” that will optimize functionality and value to you, your staff and your patients.
Below are some important attributes you should look for:
- Is the software “system agnostic”, i.e. can it interface seamlessly with any existing electronic medical record (EMR) system, or are you forever tied to a single EMR product?
- Is the software totally customizable to your practice, i.e. can it precisely replicate the paper registration forms you use now, or must you and your staff change your normal processes to accommodate the software’s “cookie cutter” template?
- Does the software provide your patients with the convenience of secure off-site registration from home, office or laptop to reduce their time in the waiting room?
- Is the registration software internet independent, i.e. can it continue to function smoothly during internet failures, or does it fail when your internet service fails?
- Does the software provide secure data encryption both at rest and in flight, i.e. while stored and while being transmitted or exchanged?
- And finally, does the software provide additional functionality that can add value to your practice and your patients, such as in-office flat screen messaging to your patients and revenue-generating promotional capabilities to attract paid advertising by commercial interests such as pharmaceutical companies, retail drug stores and home medical equipment providers?
The clipboard and paper registration process is outdated, and will inevitably be replaced by more streamlined and cost-effective and secure paperless systems. Therefore, it is essential to conduct appropriate due diligence to make the best decisions for your practice and your patients going forward. Hopefully, the ideas offered here will help you to frame your evaluation process most effectively.
(William McClain, MBA, is in Marketing & Corporate Relations for DigitalPatient™, Inc. , a Dallas-Ft Worth practice-centered medical software company dedicated to providing effective, cost-saving solutions for today’s medical providers. For more information go to Digital-Patient.com)