There are many aspects to running your own practice – you have to manage people, tools and the business side of the clinic. Technology is becoming an important part of practice management in all areas. However health IT is not always a blessing for doctors and their patients. If you mismanage technology, it can create even bigger problems than before.
Most dental practices already use EDR software, PM systems, patient portals and a variety of other backend tools to manage different areas like finance, employees etc. But have you thought about the technology you use for coordinating patient traffic? Patient traffic coordination may not be a big issue if you have a small office with a single doctor. But the bigger the clinic, the more pressing the problem.
Patient Traffic Coordination
Coordinating patient traffic inside your clinic is a problem of communication. If you have a dozen examining rooms and multiple specialists, how do your patients know where to go next? How do you inform patients and doctors about important details like location or medical data? Many practices have a staff member perform this role of coordinating people. You can see them running around trying to get doctors and patients into the appropriate rooms.
Relying on a ‘roaming’ staff member to coordinate traffic wastes a lot of time and creates room for errors and mistakes. The patient has to wait until someone tells them which room to go into and where it is. Then there is another wait until the dentist or hygienist comes in. What happens if the employee forgets something? They have to go back to the front desk or the computer to get that information again. Patients also view it as unprofessional to see people running around in the clinic.
Communicating with Doctors and Patients in the Clinic
Providers have long relied on pagers, radios or other devices for communication. Setting up the systems can take a long while and they are often expensive. Some of them are not suitable for a small office either. For example, hospitals may have a PA system to broadcast messages but can you really use that in a medium sized clinic?
Luckily communication technology has improved quite a bit from old school systems. What you should be looking at is an intra-office paging and communication system, not wireless radios. These modern systems come in many types of devices including smartphones, tablets, wearables and computers. You can use text messages, instant messages or concise pages to communicate the necessary information.
Benefits of Intra-office Communication Systems
One of the biggest benefits of such a system is that you’re not limited to the amount and type of data that you can send. You can use a combination of audio alerts and text to get relevant details to the right person. For example, you can use one sound to alert doctors that their patients are already in the room and another to let them know if the next patient is late and so on.
You can also use these systems to broadcast messages to several computers or mobile devices at once. Depending on the system, you may even have the ability for two-way communication between doctors and other employees. For instance, the dentist can request patient records with a text message. The office manager can send the required information right from the desktop to the tablet inside the examining room.
Using the right technology means that you save time, reduce the probability of mistakes and create a professional atmosphere within the clinic. You no longer have people running around or shouting to communicate. All it takes is a click of a button!