Better patient outcomes and a healthier bottom line – that’s what orthopedic clinics across the nation want to see.
So, why does it seem that many orthopedic surgeons are forced to choose between the two?
Can’t a clinic make money AND produce verifiably better results for the patients they serve?
It is possible, but today there seems to be a disconnect between these two objectives.
What’s the problem?
For most practices, there are two issues at play: the volume of patients that a surgeon cares for and clinic technology that hasn’t advanced sufficiently to keep up with that volume.
Even though the volume of patients that the average orthopedic clinic is serving has increased, there are some basic elements of orthopedics that have not changed. They are the role of the surgeon, physics, human anatomy, and the goal of treatment – a return to health.
So if those are the things that haven’t changed over the past centuries, what has changed?
- Level of Competition
- Tools for Communication with Patients
- Means of Acquiring Patients
- Meaningful Use
- Regulations and Compliance
- Medical Records and Recordkeeping
- Diagnostic Imaging
- Surgical and Clinical Procedures
So while a surgeon is using his/her time to diagnose, document, and operate, his or her staff is doing a dozen other things that have been loaded onto the plate of the clinic by patient expectations, legislation, institutional procedures, and insurance requirements. In fact, there are more staff required for an orthopedic clinic now than ever before. Why? Because there is more administrative work that must be done.
- Schedule Appointments
- Manage Technology
- Check In / Check Out Patients
- Marketing Efforts
- Imaging for Diagnostics
- Manage Finances
- Request Medical Records
- Verify Benefits
- Manage Staff
- Order Imaging
- Communicate with Hospital
- Physical Therapy
- Surgery Coding
- Communicate with Patients
- Record Keeping
- Make and Track Lab Orders
This is just a short list of the tasks that must be done in addition to the surgeon’s role of diagnosing, operating, and documenting.
Fortunately, this laundry list of administrative items can be more effectively managed by leveraging modern technology and hiring a healthcare IT consultant that understands the processes involved in an orthopedic clinic.
For a clinic to stay in business long term in today’s climate, there are three things it must have.
- A surgeon who knows what he/she is doing.
- A staff that can efficiently help patients through the process and move paperwork through the system.
- Technology that supports the flow of paperwork, meets the expectations of patients, and enhances the options available to the surgeon.
If a clinic is missing one of these elements, or if one of these three elements is deficient in any way – that orthopedic clinic is going to struggle.
Today, greater than half of the doctors in the USA are using Electronic Medical Records. The problem is, 39% of doctors surveyed wouldn’t recommend thee EMR system they are currently using to another physician, and according to a survey of 17,000 EMR system users, 23% of medical professionals would like to trade their EMR system for something different.
Why is there such a high dissatisfaction rate?
Is it the EMR solution they are using? – Maybe
More likely, it’s the hassle.
EMR systems – like any application – have to be implemented, optimized, tailored, maintained, and monitored by a professional healthcare IT consultant to be most efficient. If these systems are not managed correctly, a percentage of their benefit is lost, and doctors and staff alike are left wringing their hands in frustration.
Another element to consider within the EMR question is the role of the physician in the setup of the system. If workflow transformation and workplace efficiency is the goal, the orthopedic surgeon and top staff have to be involved in the process to ensure best practices and positive workflows. It is this collaboration between the clinic’s staff and the IT professional in the implementation stage that will set the EMR system project up for success. The better your EMR system works, the more efficiently your administrative tasks can be accomplished. This efficiency will then drive lower wait times, more surgeries, and better patient outcomes.
Patient communication platforms allow physicians to stay in contact with their patients. This is not only important during the diagnosis stage, but it is critical for follow up, education, and ongoing patient care.
Patients expect that your orthopedic clinic can communicate with them in a secure, modern, electronic format that is simple to use, meets their needs, and enhances their mental and physical health.
- Patients are looking for online access to their personal health information.
- Patients want to be able to make appointments online.
- Patients don’t want the frustration of paper forms – everything needs to be online.
- Patients want a clear channel of communication with their physicians that doesn’t include long delays or answering machines.
- Patients want to be able to track each step of their health care plan online.
If your clinic can provide these avenues of communication, education, information, and collaboration to your patients, you will have better patient outcomes as a result. Why? Because informed people are happy people and happy people follow doctor’s instructions much more closely than those who are unhappy with the level of communication they are receiving from their physician’s office.
Communication with Hospitals and Dealing with Referrals
Faxes… Lots and lots of faxes.
But businesses are moving quickly away from fax technology.
So why is medicine clinging so tightly to it?
As we have already stated, slightly less than half of USA physicians are still using paper health records for their patients. So, they have to fax things unless they choose efficiency and make the migration to EHR.
But for the rest of physicians, there is no need to trouble yourselves with antiquated and costly fax technology. After all, why receive a referral or a scheduling change from the hospital and print it only to input it back into your EHR manually?
That makes no sense and costs you money.
There is a better way.
An IT solutions specialist can set up your systems in a way that allows a fax to be automatically driven to the right patient’s file – making the process that much more straightforward for your office. This process results in higher security and lowers costs.
Disaster Recovery & Business Continuity
You have a lot invested in your orthopedic clinic. Why risk it all?
You’re aware that a data breach, fire, flood, major building maintenance issue, extended power outage, criminal act, or human error could negatively impact your clinic’s ability to continue in operation.
Protecting your internal data and your patient’s EMR has to be a high priority.
How are you going to do it?
With EMR, the process is relatively simple. You partner with a healthcare IT specialist who sets up redundant backup systems that meet strict security protocols and comply with HIPAA legislation.
Did you know?
The Ponemon Institute estimated in 2013 that every incident of unplanned downtime costs a healthcare facility $7,900 for every minute their system is down. That number has only been on the rise in the past five years. If protecting patients and keeping them moving forward in their recoveries is essential, then keeping your systems available – even in a localized disaster – has to be a priority. A day of downtime for your office means another day of waiting for your patients.
If you still haven’t migrated from paper records to EMR, this may be the biggest reason for you to switch. Sure, no-one expects it to happen to THEIR clinic. But accidents happen, and so do fires, floods, and storms. Having geo-redundant backup enables you to continue to serve your patients – even if your facility is impacted by unexpected adverse circumstances.
When it comes to HIPAA compliance, disaster recovery is a crucial element. It falls under the Administrative Safeguards section of the HIPAA Security rule. A clinic in compliance with that rule will have a fallback strategy to enable continuous availability of essential systems and data. The following fallback plans are demanded by this legislation.
- Emergency Access Procedure
- Emergency Mode Operation Plan
- Disaster Recovery Plan
- Data Backup Plan
HIPAA Compliance and the Privacy Rule
The “Privacy Rule” or the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information is a grouping of standards that were put in place to protect the Personal Health Information of a patient. The Privacy Rule covers any information relating to a patient regardless of medium – electronic, oral, or paper. The following private patient information is covered by these standards:
- Medical Condition – past, present, or future
- Payment for Treatment
- Date of Birth
- Social Security Number
- Medical History
Orthopedic Surgeons, surgery centers, and clinics are required to follow the Privacy Rule and ensure that all of this confidential patient information is secured against hacking, internal and external theft, along with accidental exposure. IT security protocols must be put in place along with physical policies and safeguards including secure access areas within the facility.
If a hospital, clinic, or physician’s office gets hacked and Personal Health Information is exposed, HITECH requires that the organization affected by the hack notify the patients whose information was compromised. There is no legal way around notification and penalties are imposed on the organization that was breached. These penalties are levied according to the violation. Each violation can cost the healthcare organization anywhere from $100 to $10,000 to a maximum of $1,500,000.
Orthopedic Information Technology Services For Your Practice
Reliable IT Healthcare is an organization dedicated to helping Orthopedic clinics, surgery centers, and private practices meet and exceed legislative compliance requirements while leveraging cutting-edge technologies to transform the way your organization works. Each IT solution that is implemented, configured, automated, integrated, managed, and monitored by our team works with the next in a seamless harmony that supports your daily efforts to bring better outcomes for your patients. Among many other solutions our IT consultants will help your organization meet today’s demanding IT requirements with:
- Application Development
- Dynamic Clinician Workflow
- Technical Architecture & Design
- Technical Project Management & Implementation
- Technology & HIPAA Assessments
Our team will work diligently to ensure that your system stays up to date with regular maintenance that won’t negatively impact your daily workflow. We will work quietly in the background to ensure that every appropriate update, upgrade, and patch is in place, providing your Orthopedic clinic with an IT system that enables productivity and security while driving value for your IT investment.
Reliable IT combines hosting, storage, servers, backups, monitoring, management, updates, patch management, support, and many other additional solutions such as DRBC and VOIP collaboration, all housed within our HIPAA-compliant, SSAE 16 II SOC 3 Data Centers. We offer a Program Management Office (PMO), including a dedicated project manager and detailed project plan for every onboarding.
By leveraging our cloud hosting solutions, you gain the confidence of knowing that your IT systems and your ePHI meet the highest standards required by the HIPAA Security and Omnibus Final Rule.
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