Editor’s Note: Daniel Kivatinos is the COO and cofounder of drchrono, an integrated EHR platform that connects doctors, patients and health data to improve patient care. Daniel drives direction, brand vision, and business strategy for drchrono. Follow him on Twitter @danielkivatinos
For urgent care clinics, efficient patient care remains the critical goal to provide the best possible care to the largest possible number of patients in the least amount of time. Imagine being able to walk from room to room in your urgent care clinic with only an iPad loaded with custom forms which can handle anything that might happen that day. This is what a truly mobile EHR looks like, and in a dynamic medical environment like an urgent care clinic, it’s more necessary than ever. If your clinic is lacking in this sort of efficiency, it’s worth looking at your software to see if you’re operating as effectively as possible or if you’re losing time in outdated systems and workflows.
A skilled urgent care doctor can move from case to case seamlessly, no matter what may walk in the door. However, despite the best intentions and skills of providers, there are a number of factors that can slow doctors (and practices) down. Outdated EHR systems, clunky clinical tools and immobile computers can make quick transitions between patients and efficient visits difficult. If your clinic is lacking in efficiency, it’s worth looking at your software to see if you’re operating as effectively as possible or if you’re losing time in outdated systems and workflows.
Traditional EHR systems are bound to a desktop computer, which may only be located in one room of a small practice, or which may require doctors to wait for login screens to load, enter repetitive personal information, and turn their backs to patients in order to chart or input data during every single encounter. If a doctor has to return to the clinic’s stationary EHR between visits, it increases wait times for patients and reduces the number of patients each doctor can see per day. Urgent care visits are also often more time-critical than other specialties, making any extra time added due to software inefficiency especially noticeable.
While the rest of the world is more mobile than ever, many urgent care clinics are still stuck in the past. Not only does a suboptimal patient encounter frustrate patients and providers, it can harm a clinic’s profits: the more time that’s wasted on inefficient processes, the fewer patients you can see in any given day and the lower your ultimate earnings. While urgent care clinics work to improve their efficiency through traditional triage methods and new methods like virtual waiting rooms, few are examining how data mobility helps streamline a doctor’s day.
Urgent care clinics also lose time when they have to struggle to make their clinical software and practice management tools work together. If you’re constantly switching between applications and processes to do speech-to-text, open imaging tool, refer patients, fax referrals or write prescriptions, you’re wasting time. Additionally, the unique needs of every situation presented in an urgent care practice makes it imperative that all these systems work together seamlessly. This raises the question: can any mobile system handle the intricacies of urgent care practice needs?
If you are considering improving clinic efficiency and introducing mobility to your physicians and staff, it’s time to take a hard look at what’s available in the cloud-based EHR marketplace as well as other solutions for your clinic. Mobility should starts with the initial patient encounter. Patients should easily find and book an online appointment with urgent care providers near them on mobile or web. Integrated virtual queue system will also reduce wait times and patient’s anxiety level in the clinic. It’s also important to allow patients to check-in online using patient portal wherever they are or enable the clinic front desk with self check-in kiosks on iPads which will reduce staff involvement. This allows urgent care clinics to benefit from higher appointment fill rates, happier patients and higher productivity.
On the clinical side, providers should be able to carry out all necessary patient care tasks natively within their EHR mobile apps on iPad, iPhone or other mobile devices. For example, urgent care providers need to be able to document patient encounter, order labs and receive results, e-prescribe both regular and controlled medication or refer another provider with the touch of a button wherever they are on their mobile device such as iPad and iPhone. Mobile EHRs also allows urgent care physicians to provide patient care on-site, in the clinic or over secure telehealth technology. Effective mobile solutions can improve both patient care and practice efficacy. As an added bonus, being able to document on the go means the providers can save time and improve their work-life balance.
Ultimately, mobility can be considered the “secret sauce” of a truly effective urgent care practice. If you’re looking to save time and increase revenue, it may be worth your time to track how long it takes your providers to move between appointments, chart, and do necessary tasks like e-prescribing. Seamless mobile technology can help reduce the wait time and lag time added to every appointment, and should be one of the first resources urgent care clinics look to if they’re seeking to improve efficiency, profits, and patient satisfaction.