Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Increasing ROI through an EMR - a guide for Indian doctors

Doctors love buzz words and acronyms and money – and this article by Aditya Patkar of Plus91 has lots of them !

ROI or Return on Investment is a very popular term these days , with everyone investing in the share market. Doctors too , need to maximize their ROI – and they have done this traditionally by investing in their clinic and practice.

As a doctor , you invest in the real estate, the interiors, furniture and fittings, medical equipment, and your staff. Your clinic is now doing well. So what more can you do to increase your return on the investment you have made? One option is to improve your productivity by using technology effectively. Of course this requires an additional investment , but this is miniscule compared to your sunk costs – the money you have already invested in your clinic
How does investing in technology help you improve your ROI ? Both by increasing your patient base by improving patient satisfaction ; and by improving the efficiency and productivity of your clinic , leading to savings in time and money.

The plus points of an EMR are:

a. Better Management of Time – All medical reports are safely and securely stored in one location for easy search and recall, allowing quick patient registration process, easy look up ; efficient retrieval of older records; and easy creation of bills and receipts.
b. Better Management of Space because of less Paper . You now have more space, because you don’t need to store old paper records which eat up valuable real estate. Also, because it’s easier to manage your appointment schedule, patient flow is improved, so that there are fewer patients waiting impatiently in your waiting room .
c. Better Management of Money – The EMR allows you to track your most profitable streams of income; and also allows you to keep an eye on your expenses. It allows you to analyse ledger reports across income and expenses; and keep track of who refers your patients to you .
d. Better Management of Patients – Integrated SMS and Email features allow you to communicate efficiently with your patients. Not only does this add to patient satisfaction, it allows you to manage your workday more efficiently by reducing no-shows . Studies have shown that if patients are reminded about their appointments in advance, they are much more likely to turn up on time, thus improving your efficiency !

Let’s look at some more examples of how technology can improve your life.

1. You have recently invested in a new smart phone. A good EMR system will help you make your smart phone clinic smart ! You can get SMS alerts about your appointments; and emails of your patients’ reports or images. You can also use the camera on the smartphone to take images of a medical report or your patient; and store it with the EMR instantly !
b. You have invested in an Internet connection, and you can now use the power of the Internet to maximize your efficiency. Your EMR system allows your patients to access their records remotely, so that they don’t need to waste their time and yours by crowding in your clinic.
c. You take pride in your clinical acumen and have finally developed the perfect medical form to help you collect your patient’s clinical details , so you can improve your medical decision making. With the help of an EMR, you can use this form as a “smart template” ! The EMR allows you to capture medical data and display it in graphs and tables, so you can analyse the medical data you spend so many hours to collect more intelligently.
d. The EMR is intelligent, and makes it much easier for your staff to enter patient data, so that you can look it up easily later on. How many of your patients have diabetes ? How many stay in Colaba ? How many were referred by Dr Shah ? How many had their annual check up done over 1 year ago and need to be sent a reminder that they need to come back for their next annual checkup , thus helping you to keep them in better health and also improving your profitablility ?

Let’s look at a real-life success story of how a radiology clinic improved their efficiency by investing in an EMR.

1. Many imaging clinics lose patients , especially if they are small because of over crowding. Patients get fed up waiting for their scan ; and for their reports. Using a good EMR system like Ultrasite from Plus91 allows the clinic to create a streamlined flow of patients. Faster and quicker report generation using the EMR system means less waiting time for patients.
2. A good machine generates images, but the reporting using these images is what creates productivity. You can now directly import or attach digital images into the EMR, hence minimizing the time required to separately print them from the machine.
3. Government rules require each and every sonography machine to be registered and the clinic to generate Forms and Reports for all sonographies done for pregnant women, as per the PNDT Act. This can be long and tedious with doctors investing manpower, time and stationery in creating this. The Ultrasite EMR system allows you to automatically generate the PNDT Form F and the final report as part of the normal ultrasound reporting process. This saves time and resources , increasing ROI. Since the formats are strictly followed as per the Act , the EMR ensures you are always in compliance with the Act.
4. All radiology clinics today have a PC , which is used primarily just to print images or make reports using MS Word. Not using an EMR means you are under utilizing a vital resource that you already have!

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