If you are not automating some part of your day, then you are way behind most other people or practices. Even if you do not own your own practice, you need to be automating as much of your day as possible. Obviously not everything can be automated, but there might be more than you think.
Any routine task that you delegate to anyone else that just needs a functioning brain, should be automated. What am I talking about?
The boring stuff that must get done. Appointment reminders. Checking insurance authorization. Inputting data into the EMR. You NEED to automate any or all these tasks for your medical practice. Luckly, you do not need to be a computer programmer to automate your day.
The Big Things To Automate In Your Medical Practice
Think about the things that are important to your business but take a lot of time and manpower to do. Let us start by looking at high level topics for what should be automated in your medical practice. Here are the main ones:
- Setting up appointment reminders with ability to confirm or cancel the appointment
- Insurance authorization checks
- Reminders for paying bills
- Reminders for follow-up visits
- Employee payroll
- Data entry
- Reputation Management
- Second touches for missed phone calls
Setting Up Appointments
Almost every electronic medical record can allow patients to book their own appointment.
Have your schedule listed online and make sure you have a EMR system that allows patients to input data. However, do not fall for third party integrations. ZocDoc will make it easy to put a schedule on your website. However, in my opinion, it will be detrimental to your business.
Our old EMR only allowed patients to put in:
- Date of Birth
- Phone Number
- Reason for appointment
Our new EMR not only can do the above, but it also asks for all their demographic information, including insurance.
Before the patient even walks in the door, they are strongly encouraged to fill out all the paperwork online. With this new EMR, we have pharmacy, allergies, medications, next of kin…basically everything you would want in the medical record before their visit. All done by the patient themselves.
Setting up, changing, or canceling appointments takes up a lot of my staff time. About half of our appointments are booked outside of regular business hours. Do not lose out on this opportunity. Automate scheduling in your medical practice.
Once you work with a bad EMR that does not do real time insurance authorizations, you realize how significant this problem can be.
Our new EMR, the patient already typed in their insurance information ahead of the visit. In less than 20 seconds, we can click a button at the time of check in and know for sure that their insurance is active and approved for our clinic.
No more calls to their insurance company. Certainly, no more waiting on hold forever. Gone also are the denials from accidentally typing in insurance ID number wrong.
Reminder To Pay Bills
Our practice management system automatically sends out patient statements. If the patient does not pay, they get another automatic statement in about 30 days. First, these reminders are done always by text and email.
We do not have to keep going into the billing software asking for reminders to be sent again to patients. It is all automated.
Once a bill approaches 90 days past balance, then our billing team does another reach out to collect on the payment.
For those of you in private practice, a bit of advice. Money should be collected at the time of service. However, if money is not collected up front, then you should be automating bills being sent. These bills should also be sent via text and email. Forget about mailed bills. They cost too much, are too slow, and patients often move. Plus, you can see “read receipts” on who opened your text or emails for their bills.
No one reads the mail anymore. Only use snail mail for threatening to send to collections.
Follow Up Visit Reminders
Our pediatrician is very sweet and kind. However, I have no idea how she pays her staff to call every follow up to confirm their appointment.
My god that must take hours. Specifically, it must take all day for this one employee to just call and leave voicemails for all the follow-up visits.
Send out email and text reminders. Undoubtably, you need to automate this. Our reminders are sent out 7 days and 24 hours before the appointment.
If you have chronic no-show patients, send them a warning letter. However, be sure to have them sign a no-show fee for all future visits.
Employee Payroll Automation
I use QuickBooks for my payroll together with OnTheClock.
OnTheClock is an add on that allows me to track my employee time. The application also allows me to make sure that they sign in from their workstation and not their car.
Hours can be sent directly to Quickbooks.
I review those hours. Then, I send out the paychecks.
It really is that simple. Taxes are automatedly taken out of our account based on payroll.
What used to take my hours to do payroll, now is done in about 10 minutes every 2 weeks.
Total cost for OnTheClock = $3 per employee per month.
Automate Data Entry Into Your Medical Record
Our office was embarrassing. We were having patients fill out paper forms on a clipboard. Then, we would have those paper forms entered into the chart by one of our employees by typing everything they just wrote by hand on the paper.
The waste of paper, time, and resources was astounding.
Once we switched to a new EMR, now we hand patients an iPad, and all of this is done by them while they wait for their check in. Automation in our medical practice saved so much time for checking patients in.
The nurse looks it over before the visit to ensure that everything looks good.
Take the workload off your employees. Automate or allow the patient to put in as much data as they can.
We can argue all day about if patients should have the ability to review doctors offices. I think they should, but I do think that there should be special rules.
Accusing your doctors office of “killing” your mother on a Google review should be something that is not allowed.
Accusing your doctors office of having smelly carpet…go for it.
Of course, you cannot hide from your online reputation. You need to take full advantage and control of it.
Every patient should receive an automated text to leave a google review. No one anymore cares about yelp, or HealthGrades or Facebook reviews. Without a doubt, go for google reviews. That is the only thing that currently matters.
Automate your patients asking for reviews after their follow up visits. You can find businesses for $100 a month that can do this for you.
Missed phone call, second touches
I really love how some companies when you call and there is no answer, they have a second touch. More specifically, they reach out to you via text after the missed call.
Implementing this not only gives a better patient experience, it also automates your practice to non phone call means of communication. This will save your staff a lot of time. It is much quicker to answer a text message compared to a phone call.
Phone lines get busy. As a result, your staff will miss phone calls. Most importantly, have a way to reach out to those people you missed.
Free Software To Automate Your Medical Workflow
There are a few software programs to help automate your day. However, they really are meant for tasks that you can click or type the same things repetitively.
Stepwise is a program that if you keep doing the same clicks over and over again, it is perfect for you.
AutoHotKey requires more programming knowledge and is a bit more difficult to set up.
FastKeys is like stepwise it seems but I have not used it since stepwise is so easy to set up.
For those of you who are willing to do a bit more coding, GitHub has all types of programs that people have made that you can use to help automate your day. The project I am working on now to automate my medical practice involves a program that can scan PDF’s looking for important information. Here is the link on GitHub.
Automate The Boring Stuff
If you are new to programming or interested, consider reading Automate The Boring Stuff book.
I’ve learned how to do a bit of coding with python and keep finding interesting things to automate during my daily life.