However, with growth and advancement comes new obstacles. In 2018 alone, more than 15 million medical records were breached, and more than half of the violations were committed by repeat offenders. Over the past few years, more providers have transitioned to cloud-based services with the hope that it offered increased security from breaches. But, almost half of all healthcare practices using this technology aren’t confident that they can ensure the safety of patient data.
For those in the healthcare industry, you might look at these numbers and think this is just how things are these days. However, for consumers, these statistics can damage their trust in the system and, more importantly, in you, which is precisely why you need these best practices:
Utilize Patient Portals
More providers are offering patient portals to their consumers for easy communication. When offered, over half of patients access their medical records online, but most don’t utilize all of the tools available to them. Without education and training on how to use the portal and demonstrations on how data is secure, many patients choose not to access this vital tool.
Some patients may never use the portal. However, most patients can see the benefits, if they’re shown. Of course, if a patient doesn’t have web access, you might not be able to overcome that obstacle. With the right education, the portal can help your patients have a better understanding of their health-related information like medications and diagnoses. Many people enjoy better overall health when they use these online tools.
Break Into Telemedicine
Access to patient care remains a significant obstacle for many Americans. Services like telemedicine can allow you to conduct visits remotely through secure applications. The advantages of services like this for your patients are endless, some of the highlights being decreased travel, minimal wait times, and less time away from work, family, and other responsibilities.
When you think of telemedicine, you might only think of doctors conducting visits. However, social workers can serve rural communities through the use of virtual visits, too. They can offer mental health care and explore resources with those who might not receive care because of financial constraints or lack of reliable transportation. These professionals can even offer group meetings where all of their clients are together in one location and use technology to connect with the practitioner.
Invest in Resources
You are a subject matter expert in your specialty, but it’s impossible to know everything about every condition or treatment. You need to invest in resources that are at your fingertips so that you’re prepared no matter where you might be when you’re evaluating a client or their records. Consider digital decision applications such as Epocrates for potential drug interactions. You should also use the tools that are built into your electronic health record (EHR) software. Many EHRs are full of templates, algorithms, and care pathways that can help you make decisions about your patient’s care and treatment.
Resources are not just for your patients. Healthcare practitioners like social workers, doctors, therapists, and nurses can grow with online education. You can also connect with experts in your field around the globe when you get involved with online networking groups or sites like LinkedIn.
Use Tech to Manage Your Finances
Technology isn’t just for patient-facing applications. You can use these advancements in your back office for medical claims auditing, financial tracking, and billing. Your financial team can better manage your finances when bills and payments are exchanged electronically, and patients can quickly pay for services online. You will also have real-time access to critical information that affects the bottom line of your success.
Create a Strategy
When using technology, we often jump in feet first and forget to create processes. Be sure to form a team who can work collaboratively to develop internal standard operating procedures. You may need to recruit experts outside of the office to be sure your systems allow for future growth. Don’t forget to include your marketing plan and a social media strategy to keep your practice easily accessible during online searches.
Don’t Forget Security
Patient data must be HIPAA compliant whether it’s in paper or digital form, or your practice will suffer the financial consequences through fines. When you’re discussing possible new mobile technology, be sure to address physical and technical safeguards, administrative processes, and documentation requirements with each vendor. Ensure that all data is encrypted and understand your contract before you sign. If your information is breached, come up with a process to archive legacy records quickly.
Setting Yourself up for Digital Success
You went into the medical field to help others. Today, the possibilities are truly endless in how you can achieve your goals. By using these best practices, you will have a strategy, security, and spend your hard earned dollars in the right places to grow your practice.
Devin prides himself on being a jack of all trades; his career trajectory is more a zigzag than an obvious trend, just the way he likes it. He pops up across the Pacific Northwest, though never in one place for long. You can follow him more reliably on Twitter.