Empower Your Practice

Journal for Practice Managers

How to Use Electronic Health Records to Optimize Patient Care

Utilise Electronic Health Records to Optimise Patient Care

Aside from solving the issue of data security, having your patient information in digital format means that you can optimise the daily workflow of everyone in your clinic. Let’s take a look at some of the greatest advantages of providing healthcare with the help of the plethora of digital tools now available to you.

Keeping Your Patients in the Loop

There’s a lot of activity that goes on behind closed doors to help patients benefit from your expertise as much as possible. Given all that’s happening, it’s quite easy to get lax with keeping people abreast of their situation. Whether it’s an upcoming appointment or new lab results, you need a way to make sure that your patients know everything they should.

At the very minimum, you should be able to:

Automated Appointment Booking Confirmation

It’s easy to use an electronic health record to send out automatic booking confirmations. As long as you have filled out the record to contain some contact information, then a good practice management system will handle this step for you.

Medesk helps to manage the work with patients. The platform tracks the entire history of interaction with them: from the attraction channel to the profit received.

Learn more >>

You should only need the following to inform patients correctly of their appointments:

  • An email address for detailed content such as:

    • Pre-investigation preparation, e.g. nil-by-mouth
  • A mobile phone number for basic content and verbal communication such as:

    • Appointment date, time and location via SMS
    • Telephone consultations and non-urgent lab result discussions
    • Guaranteeing online bookings with unique SMS confirmation codes
  • A landline phone number for other situations such as when:

    • Patients do not possess a mobile phone, e.g. the elderly
    • Patients are based abroad and you do not want them to incur charges for incoming texts

Read: The Role of Practice Management Software in Patient Retention

Scheduled Appointment Reminders

It’s good to provide patients with a confirmation that their appointment has been booked properly and it’s even better to follow this up with a reminder. Patients may not attend an appointment for a variety of reasons, not least of which that they simply forgot all about it! So you must have a way of keeping your cancellations and no-show rates nice and low.

Here’s how to get the most out of scheduled appointment reminders:

  • Use the contact information in the patient’s EHR to generate confirmations and line up reminders
  • Find out whether your patients best respond to emails or texts
  • Try a range of schedules, e.g. reminders sent 1 week and 1 day ahead of the appointment
  • Provide a way for patients to contact you, e.g. your clinic phone number in the text/email content
  • Offer a means of rescheduling, e.g. a link to the patient portal on your website

Read: Online booking is one of the major trends of the year

Open and Transparent Data Sharing

Sharing useful information about a patient’s health is a core part of your daily routine so it’s vital that you get it right to support the best possible patient experience.

Here are some examples of how you can easily share data with your patients by using tools inside their electronic health records:

  • Copy patients into referral letters via email
  • Offer appointment histories and the option to cancel via a patient portal
  • Create digital copies of repeat prescriptions to avoid unnecessary physical visits
  • Compile full medical histories to send whenever patients request it
  • Download NICE guidelines for those who want to understand your recommendations in greater depth

In Medesk each patient’s data is stored in an individual Electronic Health Record. This allows you to track the treatment process and to maintain complete continuity of care.

Open detailed description >>

Quick and Convenient Document Production

EHR Patient Retention

Patients really don’t want to be kept waiting. Whether they are nervous about some impending test results or they have their own personal lives to attend to, it’s your job to make sure that your patients have the smoothest possible experience in your clinic. The completion of paperwork is often the limiting factor when it comes to providing a great patient experience that keeps people coming back to you time and time again, so why not make this step as efficient as possible?

When you combine all of the information contained within a properly filled out electronic health record with the data that is most pertinent to the document in question, you can actually make paperwork pretty straightforward to put together.

When you are preparing a repeat prescription, it’s often the case that the patient does not need to attend the clinic for a consultation at that exact time. Depending on the pharmacy, the patient may not even need to come to the clinic to pick the prescription up. If this is true, then why should creating a repeat prescription take more than a few seconds of your time? In Medesk in particular, everything on a prescription can be generated automatically in the case of repeats and in just a couple of clicks in the case of new ones.

Here’s an outline of how a prescription is generated from information already present in a patient’s EHR amongst other places:

  • Personally identifiable information (PII) is taken from the patient’s record, e.g. full name, date of birth, and address
  • Clinic information is added from your profile within your practice management system, e.g. clinic address and phone number
  • Logos, company information and a place for you to stamp can be hardcoded into documents in advance
  • The name, credentials and GMC/NMC number of the prescriber will appear depending on who is generating the prescription

Read: How to Organise Your Electronic Health Records and Produce Perfect Documents

Boost Your Business Performance

To progress from merely surviving to actively thriving in private practice requires you to understand how your clinic works as a business. While treating patients is always going to be your primary goal, you can’t help anyone if your clinic isn’t successful enough to stay open in the first place. That’s why the health of your patients and the health of your business actually go hand in hand.

While your electronic health records are focused mostly on your patients’ health as the name would suggest, you can also use this space to manage your relationship with them. As well as the improvement in the quality of communication as explained earlier, you can use a practice management system to track a patient’s financial standing with your clinic.

Use the dedicated invoicing section of a patient’s profile to manage the following:

  • Record payments and refunds, keeping track of the overall payment history
  • Add discounts for qualifying patients, e.g. members of your loyalty scheme
  • Automatically produce actual invoice documents to send by email or post
  • Provide receipts and credit notes for patients who need them
  • Generate reports showing all unpaid invoices over time so you can chase them
  • Automatically sync issued invoices with accounting software like Xero

Read Case Study: How Practice Management Software Creates a Healthy, Transparent and Dynamic Culture in Our Clinic

Make the Most of Your EHR in 5 Takeaway Points

You only get out of a system what you are willing to put in. Electronic health records are only ever as useful as you make them, so putting in enough information to pre-empt your patients’ needs is vital to the success of your business. The more data your records contain, the better your practice management system will be at supporting an excellent patient experience. If you take nothing else from this article, then familiarise yourself with the 5 key points below:

1. Combine your EHR with your schedule to generate automatic appointment bookings

2. Make schedule reminders to reduce no-shows and cancellations

3. Be open and transparent with your patients: don’t ever keep them waiting in suspense

4. Optimise your document production workflows

5. Keep on top of your progress as a business as well as a healthcare provider

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