Scheduling patients for elective procedures requires care and coordination. If your medical practice is already busy, patient scheduling can place a strain on your office staff and medical resources, which can jeopardize your high standards of patient care.
This delicate balance is why many elective surgery centers and other medical practices opt for an electronic medical records (EMR) system.
An EMR platform streamlines and organizes the administrative details of your medical practice, improving your efficiency in multiple areas of operation. How can using EMRs help you schedule patients for elective procedures? Let’s look at six unique ways.
Efficient scheduling is crucial to any medical practice. Many patients have come to expect a smooth, simplified scheduling process. But elective surgery requires more than just scheduling the patient into a time slot; it requires coordination across the entire medical team.
An effective EMR solution will streamline this entire process, allowing you to:
- Reserve rooms and equipment
- View the schedules of individual providers
- Identify appointment types on the calendar
- Perform block scheduling
- Receive confirmations from patients
- Track patient flow
- Manage your waitlist
Perhaps most importantly, an EMR platform will organize and centralize these activities, allowing even the busiest teams to work in harmony.
Managing Medical Resources
To book elective procedures, you’ll need to align the schedules of patients and caregivers and secure the appropriate rooms, equipment, and resources. Operating rooms and surgical equipment may be limited in smaller practices, calling for careful planning to track and optimize patient flow.
An EMR solution allows you to schedule patients while monitoring the use of your facility’s medical resources. Your calendar will allow you to quickly identify appointment types and view the activities for your day, week, or month.
This overview can prevent you from accidentally double-booking a particular room. It can also facilitate the cleaning and sanitation of operating rooms and equipment.
Patient no-shows can create huge problems for your elective surgery practice. Not only do you lose the time and revenue from that day, but you may also have to go through the entire scheduling process again to get your patient back on your calendar.
An EMR system can reduce no-shows by sending automated reminders via text or email. Patients will receive a reminder for their upcoming appointment and be prompted to submit a confirmation to let you and your staff know that they’re still planning to arrive for their procedure.
These confirmations then feed into your scheduling system, allowing you to better monitor patient flow and make appropriate reservations of rooms and equipment. If no confirmation is received, the system can alert your staff to make a direct phone call to the patient to resolve any issues.
You can also use your EMR platform to send emails that provide instructions on “next steps” to your patients, which can alleviate anxiety about upcoming procedures and reduce cancellations.
Answering common questions beforehand can increase patient knowledge and raise their confidence in your medical practice.
Organizing Patient Data
What kind of filing system do you currently use for your patient records? Paper-based filing systems are increasingly becoming a thing of the past — and for a good reason.
Paper records make it easier for unauthorized people to gain access to your patients’ sensitive data. Plus, they present a practical problem for medical offices, which have to spend time and energy storing, filing, and retrieving patient records as they are needed.
An EMR suite can help you store relevant patient data such as:
- Medical history
- Clinical notes
- Medical and insurance forms
This data is digitally stored in a centralized location so that authorized personnel can easily access patient data when they need it, all without compromising confidentiality or data security.
How does this improve your scheduling process? Organizing patient data can help you save time and reduce errors by having patient records available literally at your fingertips. No more time will be wasted sifting through file drawers or discovering that the data you need is stored in another location.
What if your practice already uses paper charts? The best EMR systems make it easy to scan documents and convert them into electronic records. At PatientNow, for example, we provide a platform called BarcodeNow, which allows you to scan documents as each patient is scheduled or perform a one-time batch scan to save even more time.
Coordinating with Labs and Pharmacy
Patients typically need some type of after-care following elective procedures. EMR suites make it easier for patients to receive this ongoing care by integrating with laboratories and local pharmacies.
When lab tests are performed as part of elective surgery, an EMR system will allow you to have faster access to data, improve patient satisfaction, and ensure accurate results.
Eliminating pen and paper scripts also takes the guesswork out of filling prescriptions. An EMR solution allows prescribers to select medications, double-check for adverse interactions, and send this data to the patient’s pharmacy digitally, ensuring that the prescription is filled promptly and accurately.
This rapid turnaround allows you to optimize your patient flow since patients will have faster access to pain relievers and other medications after their procedure.
Allowing your patients to recuperate at home minimizes the time spent in your practice and can potentially increase the number of patients you see.
Using Data to Define Trends and Opportunities
Finally, your team can use an EMR suite to track patient data and practice-wide statistics. This data allows you to identify trends in elective procedures and find new opportunities for improvement and growth.
For example, you may discover that more elective procedures are scheduled during the first half of the year. You can then adjust your staffing or scheduling considerations to better serve your patients and reduce strain on your team.
Enhance Your Scheduling Process with PatientNow
An EMR system can improve every aspect of your scheduling process, but it can also do so much more. Powerful EMR solutions from PatientNow can help you market your medical practice, improve productivity, and increase patient satisfaction using cutting-edge solutions.
Learn more by signing up for a free demo, and explore how PatientNow can enhance the life of your practice and improve the care you deliver to your patients.