Ever wonder if you’re using technology to its fullest capabilities? Or, perhaps you regularly ask yourself, “How can I manage my clinic more efficiently?” To boost operational efficiencies, remain competitive, and lower costs—oh, and to keep your sanity in check—you may want to adopt some strategies that will put technology to work for you. On that note, check out these nine time-saving tips:

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1. Adopt a secure, reliable EMR.

What’s good for rehab therapists—in terms of efficiency and profitability—should also carry over to patients. And having a top-notch electronic records system is the first step in not only streamlining workflows and improving bottom lines, but also improving patient care. In particular, adopting a secure, reliable EMR gives you the ability to document—and subsequently, bill third-party payers—faster and more efficiently, which in turn allows you to see more patients throughout the day. And, for those systems that can “talk” with one another, EMRs provide for HIPAA-compliant transfers of patient data—something that will become increasingly important as health care transitions to a more collaborative model.

2. Allow for mobile patient payments.

Consumers can now pay for goods and services simply by pulling up their smartphones at the point of sale. And soon, your patients may no longer need to ruffle through their wallets or purses for that hard-to-find Visa or Mastercard. In fact, mobile payments could one day replace traditional physical payments (e.g., cash and credit cards) as we know them. And that could certainly make your life easier as a biller or outpatient clinic owner. However, it’s important to know which mobile payment platforms are best suited to your practice with respect to your day-to-day operating costs as well as your overall transaction and sales volume.

3. Provide telehealth options.

Technology’s role in improving patient care delivery will only continue to grow—and one tech trend that’s positioned for big gains in the coming years is telehealth. In fact, this increasingly popular care option is already proving highly beneficial to infirmed patients as well as those who live in more rural, underserved areas. Now, if you’re currently looking to hop aboard the telehealth train, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, to date, CPT codes for telehealth therapy services have not been developed—making it difficult for PTs, OTs, and SLPs to receive reimbursement for those services. But, that all could change later this month when a work group tasked with creating new telehealth CPT codes convenes in New Orleans.

4. Harness the power of handheld technology.

Smartphones and tablets provide remarkable power in the form of convenience and portability—and when you have cloud-based technology and customized clinical software at your fingertips, why wouldn’t you take advantage of it? Many therapists rely on these on-the-go tech devices for quicker, more efficient documentation. According to this Becker’s Hospital Review article, providers are also turning to clinical apps “that will allow physicians more interaction in the patient care experience”—thus enhancing patient engagement.

5. Manage documents from the cloud.

Downloading attachment after attachment—and trying to find the appropriate updated files to send back and forth to colleagues—is truly inefficient in terms of workplace collaboration. And what about those annoying computer crashes and power outages? Well, they can really throw a wrench into things—not to mention make you look ill-prepared—when you need that important file, pronto. Stop working like it’s 1999. Instead, adopt a secure, cloud-based document management system that lets you easily—and seamlessly—upload external documents and securely email and fax them directly from the application (bonus points if you can find a system that allows you to store patient insurance information and intake forms as well as create easy-to-read reports on things like top referral sources).

6. Make use of cloud-based collaboration tools.

You can waste a lot of valuable time checking in, circling back, and following up with colleagues via email. Plus, considering how cluttered most people’s inboxes are, there’s a good chance your messages will get ignored or lost in the shuffle. So, to hold employees accountable—and ensure everyone’s on the same page regarding deadlines and responsibilities—your practice can turn to online project management tools like Asana, Basecamp, and Slack. Each platform allows you to assign tasks to employees—and delegate further responsibilities as they come up—along with established deadlines. Employees can also receive alerts when someone starts a discussion, uploads project collateral, or indicates when they have completed a specific task—thus creating seamless project flow without overwhelming anyone’s inbox. One important word of caution: make sure you use these platforms for workplace collaboration only—not to exchange or store patient data (that would be a major HIPAA no-no).

7. Customize your customer contact experience.

Staying in touch with your patients (through things like email newsletters, social media, and direct mail fliers) has never been easier. Plus, from a business standpoint, delivering routine, relevant content can also help keep your practice top of mind. Still, we get it—you and your staff have busy schedules. Fortunately, you can turn to a number of programs to streamline this process. Take the complexity out of newsletter creation and dissemination using programs like Constant Contact and MailChimp; schedule your social media posts in advance through programs like Hootsuite and Buffer; and turn to companies like FedEx Office to print your direct mail fliers.

8. Motivate and reward patients through gamification.

Even the most dedicated patients occasionally lack the motivation to complete their home exercise programs, especially if those programs become monotonous and routine. To shake things up a bit—and provide a little extra incentive—some healthcare startups are toying with gamification to help providers reward those patients who follow through on their prescribed home exercise. In particular, Reflexion Health employs a video feedback system that helps correct the movements of patients who struggle to perform various in-home PT exercises. Additionally, the Pact mobile app allows users to establish—and commit to achieving—personal goals to exercise several times each week, and those who hit their goals receive monetary rewards.

9. Follow up with patients through online surveys.

As a private practice owner or therapist, you may think you provide exceptional customer service. But, how can you truly quantify whether you’re appealing to patients’ comfort levels—and wallets—on a large scale? Instead of turning to consultants, create customized online surveys through SurveyMonkey or SurveyGizmo. The responses you receive will give you a good idea of how your patients value you—and in which areas you need work. Plus, when you give respondents the benefit of anonymity, they’re much more likely to provide honest feedback. And as the industry transitions to a value-based paradigm, patient satisfaction will become even more important (it’s part of the Triple Aim, after all). Once you gather a good number of responses, you’ll start to pick up on trends that will allow you to better cater to your patients’ wants and needs.

What strategies have you employed on the technology front to create greater efficiencies in your practice? Are there certain approaches that tend to work better in health care? Why? Give us your two cents in the comment section below. Who knows—your feedback could create an “aha” moment for one of your fellow rehab therapists.

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