Years ago—maybe even decades now—patient satisfaction in health care was simply icing on the cake. Today, it’s the icing, the cake, and the serving platter. In fact, keeping your patients satisfied is the only way to ensure you receive payment in this new pay-for-performance era—not to mention, it’s the absolute best way to improve word-of-mouth referrals and boost your practice’s presence online. In other words, patient satisfaction is pretty darn important, and if you’re using a cloud-based electronic medical record (EMR) platform—a perfect example of patient engagement technology—then you’re one step closer to higher patient satisfaction levels. Here are some patient wish-list items that top-notch cloud-based EMRs provide (inspired by this HealthIT FAQ):
We’ve all been to an office that runs like a terribly oiled machine—think stacks of paper everywhere, an unanswered phone ringing endlessly, a harried receptionist frantically trying to keep up, and a general feeling of mayhem and pervasive stress. While no one wants to encounter this awful atmosphere in any industry, it’s especially frightening to find this level of chaos in a healthcare provider’s office. That’s because it’s definitely not conducive to healing; it can even be dangerous.
That’s why adopting cloud-based technology that streamlines your clinic operations—and reduces stress for your staff members—can positively (and dramatically) impact your patients. With the right cloud-based EMR platform, providers can ditch error-prone paper charts, because patient information is securely stored—and easily accessible and searchable—within the cloud. That means your front office staff can easily verify patient information in the system, and your clinical staff can review legible patient notes to prepare for an upcoming session—before the session begins. This can greatly reduce the risk of injury and unnecessary interventions. Plus, from the patient’s perspective, he or she gets to interact with competent, calm healthcare professionals who expect the patient’s arrival and communicate effectively with him or her—as well as one another.
There’s little that peeves a patient more than showing up to an appointment on time—only to wait. While occasionally being a few minutes behind schedule isn’t anything to fret about, repeatedly running late is damaging to your reputation and infuriating for your patients—many of whom have to rearrange their otherwise full schedules to be there.
With a cloud-based EMR’s integrated, intuitive scheduling functionality, however, providers can thoughtfully book patient appointments—and send automated appointment reminders to ensure patients are showing up on time. That way, providers have a full schedule that still leaves enough time between appointments to wrap up any remaining documentation—although cloud-based EMRs designed for rehab therapy workflows should enable providers to complete most (if not all) documentation at the point of service. Plus, patients feel well-cared for and less rushed. And if an emergency does occur—causing a backup in your schedule—your front-office staff can quickly access patient contact information for your upcoming appointments so they can start rescheduling those appointments immediately.
Smoother Intake Process
You know what else decreases patient wait times? A smoother intake process. The best cloud-based EMR platforms also enable providers to embed a customizable intake form on their websites, so patients can complete the necessary paperwork prior to arriving for their first appointment. This is not only easier for patients—who will have access to all the information they need to complete their medical history at home—but also for front office staff, as they won’t have to manually enter the patient’s handwritten information into the system. Instead, the intake form—and all the patient’s important demographic and medical information—will automatically appear within the EMR.
Technology is advancing rapidly, and as smartphones and tablet devices become ubiquitous—even in our school systems—more and more patients are expecting healthcare providers to step up their game. In other words, if a provider is still documenting with pen and paper—something that, according to our recent industry-wide survey, a whopping 16.1% of rehab therapists are still doing—then patients may wonder what else he or she isn’t keeping up with (for example, patients may question whether the therapist’s understanding of the musculoskeletal system is outdated as well). And that doesn’t inspire confidence. So, even if you’re not ready to turn your clinic into a modern mecca of technology, simply using iPads or laptops to document in your top-notch cloud-based EMR can go along way toward demonstrating that you understand the value this type of technology offers—and that you want to pass that value on to your patients.
Collaboration with Other Providers
Speaking of all things modern, in today’s era of collaborative health care, it should come as no surprise that patients expect their providers to work together to ensure they’re receiving the absolute best care possible. After all, it no longer makes sense for providers to operate in silos when sharing information among members of a patient’s care team and adopting a more holistic care approach can result in better outcomes and lower costs. Thus, adopting a cloud-based EMR that fosters collaboration is a huge value-add—especially if that system is on the fast track to becoming fully interoperable with other documentation platforms.
Comprehensive Outcomes (a.k.a. Progress ) Tracking
We all know collecting outcomes data is important—in terms of both ensuring providers deliver quality care and receiving payment in the new pay-for-performance environment. But patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) can be absolutely instrumental in encouraging patient engagement, thus boosting patient satisfaction and, in turn, outcomes. First, the act of asking patients how they’re progressing functionally—and then reviewing their answers with them—is incredibly beneficial. After all, everyone wants to be heard. Providers then have the opportunity to use the information they’ve gathered to communicate progress from session to session, thereby further engaging the patient in his or her care. It really doesn’t get much better than that—unless, of course, in addition to offering a fully integrated outcomes tracking solution, your cloud-based EMR provides easy-to-digest outcomes reports that clearly show patient progress. In that case, it’s pretty perfect.
Bonus patient satisfaction points go to providers whose cloud-based EMRs integrate with billing software or an RCM service. That’s because patient information will automatically transfer to the billing software—or dedicated biller—so claims are cleaner. And cleaner claims mean faster reimbursements and fewer billing headaches for patients.
How else has adopting a cloud-based EMR platform improved patient satisfaction in your practice? Tell us your thoughts in the comment section below.