Empower Your Practice

Journal for Practice Managers

How to Run a Paperless Clinic: Interview with Marites Cross, Part 2

Here’s the second part of our exclusive interview with Marites Cross, managing director of East Anglia Ultrasound Services. She outlines the benefits of staying on top of your schedule with the help of the most effective time management skills and tools. Learn how her practice finally found a way to go digital.

1st part of the interview is here

Your practice has recently switched from being wholly paper-dependent to going almost exclusively paperless with Medesk. What’s the story behind your decision to go digital?

The doctor should not bear the burden of administrative workload and drown in documents, while he can see more patients and treat them more carefully. The Medesk electronic medical record structures the data in such a way to improve the quality of medical decision-making.

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Do you know the cost of all that paper, the printing and the ink? It’s a lot of money. As the owner of the business, I have to analyse the cost of all of these office supplies and I need to think of ways to reduce these costs. I had been searching for practice management software for a long time, but I couldn’t find the right application until I sent an email to you guys.

Since you were so helpful, I thought that we should go with it as the easiest way to put everything including our images into the cloud.

Medesk has allowed us to become eco-friendly, and it saves us time that was previously spent on pulling out all the patient records and filing them again. It means that we are working more cost-effectively.

I have been asking our receptionists and sonographers about how they have been finding the transition to this new patient management software, and they reported it to be easier and quicker. We’ve even been asking our clients, and they’ve said it’s great, too. It’s more efficient than working with paper, and it’s more secure as it can’t be lost. The only thing that leaves the system is when we send patients emails, but it’s their responsibility to protect their emails and not share the content.

If we had carried on working with paper, in 5-10 years we would probably have ended up with a whole room full of paper and cabinets.

Since we now can go with a paperless solution, why not? You save space, you save time, the environment and your information are protected and yet accessible. That’s why we went digital.

The field of ultrasound, as well as medicine in general, is making increasing use of digital tools and technologies. How you do expect these developments to change your clinical work and practice management over the next 5 to 10 years?

I am expecting that patients will no longer need to make an appointment with their GP to get a referral. They will be able to do that online. Since online booking is already available, it should become possible to do this for all GP surgeries and even hospitals.

Also, all patients should be able to access the results of their tests and any recommendations made by their doctors. In this way, they will be able to receive treatment with no delay. This would be more cost-effective, and new technologies will allow medicine to become more preventative in nature rather than having patients waiting for another two to three weeks after seeing the GP to get an appointment with a specialist.

O9VWHA0 photo: freepik.com

If a GP can tell a patient that they have the results of their examination, they can just send it to the patient rather than using up another appointment for this. It’s a quicker channel of communication, and it’ll prevent any situation in which results can be lost.

Using cloud storage for images and other records, a GP can just type the patient’s name and see everything about the relevant patient, procedures and test results. It would be great to have such a connection to NHS and private doctors by means of an accessible centralised system.

Is there anything specific that you believe all great private practices have in common?

Specifically, it’s about better service that’s provided quickly. That’s the only thing that really matters.

Practice management requires a whole range of skills that ordinary healthcare practitioners may not be aware of when they switch over to running clinics. What are the biggest mistakes that a practice manager or clinical director can make?

The first one is that they invest too much in the latest technologies even when they can’t really be used efficiently to generate income. They do this just to say: “We have the latest technology,” but they’re not utilising it as they should. You can’t run a business by having all these healthcare software systems if they're not generating income. What’s the point?

Hiring staff with limited skills is not that useful. You must make sure that you’re hiring staff that have a wide range of extra skills and can multitask.

For example, you don’t want to hire a sonographer who can only do Obstetrics ultrasound scans. You need someone who can do more than Sonography, and an extra skill like taking bloods would be beneficial, too. However, having said that, as long as the new staff member is willing to learn, you can send them for more training.

Your role is a busy one that must require a great deal of time management to get everything done at work while maintaining a good work-life balance. How do you manage this?

I juggle my responsibilities by being organised and by making sure I have a day off to recharge. If you are physically and mentally drained, you can’t do anything well. You need a rest.

I learned previously that if I’m working all the time, I can’t relax, and I have so much on my mind. I used to become too preoccupied late at night with what I had done or hadn’t done. I learned that if you don’t have enough rest, you can’t function efficiently at the particular time you need to.

Of course, if I’m off, I have to spend that quality time with my family. It’s hard at the beginning, but now I’ve learned how to balance it.

Many people have a life philosophy that guides them. Do you have a favourite quote that you would like to share with our readers?

It’s a simple one by Mark Twain: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started”.

That is the best quote as if you don’t start, you can’t progress. People have so many ideas, but they are just talking about them. I have had acquaintances who have seen what we have done at our clinic and are now calling me to ask for advice and everything. I say: “You’ve been thinking about this for however many years, so start!”

I think of it like driving a car: if you don’t start the car, it’s not going to move.

1st part of the interview is here

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