Technology is making significant improvements in many different areas of our lives, and medical facilities are not being left behind in the huge advances that are being made. Today medical offices have so many options in regards to how they run their office and many of the advances that we are seeing are saving companies not just money, but time as well. Many medical offices are moving to web-based medical software and many large software companies are jumping in to try to take advantage of the need medical offices have. One company that has made a huge advancement in this area is Medical Office Online.
The claims by this company are that it is easy to learn, easy to set up, is HIPAA compliant, and is able to integrate medical scheduling software, electronic medical records, and medical billing software. This is a great way to bring your office to a stage where they no longer rely on paper as their main source of information. Some of the services offered by web-based medical software include the following: electronic medical records, medical scheduling, e-prescribing, medical billing, electronic claims filing, electronic remittance, messaging, and patient access. This can all be offered while still being able to meet strict HIPAA regulations, as well as important OSHA guidelines.
There are significant benefits to this type of system as well. With a web-based system, offices are fully paperless and information is easily accessible from anywhere. It is often inexpensive and fully integrated. These types of software offer regular offsite back-up of data as well as government level data security and encryption. The software is easy to use, fully HIPAA compliant, and works with portable computers and wireless web devices. It also has other features that offer ease of use such as entering data through many different options, including typing, select lists, stylus, or even voice recognition.
Other important features offered by this type of service include online appointment scheduling, easy and automated appointment reminders, custom web forms which can be convenient for any number of different tasks, early check-in capabilities that can reduce wait time and increase patient satisfaction, patient signature capture, and allowing a medical office to have all of their systems under the same software instead of having to use several different software programs for different aspects of their duties. This type of software works great for single office facilities and especially well for multiple location facilities making it easy to coordinate and update calendars and appointments and schedules.
This type of service greatly benefits a medical office, but not to be overlooked are the benefits that patients themselves receive from this type of software being used at their health care office. Patients can privately and securely access their own medical records over the internet using their home computer. Patients also benefit from being able to access medication lists and information regarding such medications, verifying existing appointments or requesting time for an appointment, checking on the status of their insurance claims, sending secured messages to their provider and getting quick access to their test results. There are many benefits to be taken advantage of with this type of software and is worth looking into.
Many medical offices choose between having patients schedule appointments through their office, through a service over the phone, or through a free automated medical appointment scheduler. The first two options obviously involve a person speaking to someone to set up an appointment while the third requires giving that information to an automated system. This type of service might save time for many health offices, however the question is raised in regards to how compliant this type of method can be with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) that was passed in 1996, which is a privacy act.
With our current society it becomes increasingly clearer that privacy and protection of our information is something that must be in the forefront of each of our minds. Marketers are constantly seeking ways to gain access to our personal information to allow them to be able to target consumers with their products and services. Sensitive medical information without a doubt ends up in a data file as well as a paper file in most offices, and is seen by hundreds of people in the medical field, the insurance industry, and many other businesses related to the medical field every day.
With all of these people having access to information that is clearly very private and personal to each of us, it is important that medical offices review every decision that they make against the standards set by either HIPAA or their state laws. Free appointment schedulers collect patient information and often these types of systems do not meet the strict privacy guidelines that protect each of us. Many of these services collect data online which is then sent to the medical offices' patient record software. There is a risk to security with using programs like these that is not always possible to completely eliminate.
To avoid having issues with HIPAA compliance, medical offices can use any number of scheduling software in combination with either a receptionist to set up appointments or an answering service which is under the same strict constraints as the doctors' offices in regards to patient's privacy and meeting the high standards set by both HIPAA and state laws. In most cases, generic appointment schedulers are not able to handle important medical information that must be collected during appointment scheduling to ensure that the right doctor is seen, that enough time is booked, and that the patient receives the right level of care.
Many different software companies have seen a need in the medical professions for ways to make scheduling appointments and arranging call backs in the most time efficient manner as possible and with recent technological advances, medical offices and insurance companies are finding that they have a huge amount of choices available to them. With a little time and research into the available options, it is possible for medical offices to ensure that not only are their needs being met, but that they are respecting the privacy and wishes of their patients. Avoiding an "easy" answer such as a free appointment scheduler is the first step to ensuring that this takes place.
Medical offices have many different options in regards to how they alert their patients in regards to an upcoming appointment, including by mail, by phone – either in person or automated, and through email, or they may choose not to contact their patients at all. These are all options that many different offices choose to use. When assessing the different options available, clinics and offices must consider the cost of the choice they make and the impact that this will make to their business.Healthcare professionals need to remain competitive and looking at all of their options is a good way to do this.
Healthcare professionals first have to look at the impact of not alerting their patients to upcoming appointments. Studies have shown that the number of patients who miss appointments decreases dramatically when there is a method to remind them. When a patient misses an appointment, the healthcare provider loses any potential revenue that might have been gained, as well as having no opportunity to reschedule the appointment. This can result in large losses for medical offices and with consumers who are making more educated choices, healthcare professionals need to ensure that they are able to meet the most cost effective ways to meet their patients' needs.
Patient appointment reminders were traditionally done by a postcard; typically these were handwritten and sent out to patients, which took a lot of work and manpower to accomplish. Drawbacks from this method include possible human error resulting in missed appointments and potential customer disappointment in quality of service. With this type of service, cancellations are usually done via mail as well and are often not received with enough time to reschedule the appointments. This method is extremely labor intensive and expensive, and often these same drawbacks can apply to calls to patients that are made by office staff.
With recent technological advances, many healthcare professionals are turning to automated options to ensure that their patients are reminded of upcoming appointments with enough time to cancel the appointment and allow the healthcare office to reschedule, thus reducing the loss of potential revenue. Using automated options is becoming increasingly more cost efficient and user friendly. Files are uploaded on a daily basis and an automated system begins making calls to patients. Pre-recorded phrases allow the system to be efficient and reduce the amount of possible error. This system even allows for patients to hit an option to systematically cancel their appointment if they no longer need it which saves time.
There are numerous benefits to healthcare professionals which make choosing a method to alert patients to upcoming appointments a necessary task. Benefits include eliminating inconsistencies and improving the efficiency of the process which can deliver advantages across an entire organization. Choosing the right option can cut down on the number of missing appointments, maximize doctors' time, allow nurses and personnel to focus on patient care, and pay for itself in a very short time. In a very competitive market with thinner margins and better educated consumers, the automated options available to healthcare offices these days are helping to highlight the need for efficient medical appointment reminders.
In order for medical offices to streamline their appointments, they utilize a system which reminds patients of their upcoming appointments via their own patient appointment reminder system. Traditionally, this is done by placing a telephone call to the patient to confirm their appointment. At this time, the patient can confirm, cancel, or reschedule the appointment. This process enables the appointment setter with information regarding possible changes to the schedule. It also reduces the chance that there will be a vacant opening during that day. If a patient cancels or reschedules the appointment, there is ample time for another patient to fill that time slot.
Different and easier methods of providing medical appointment reminders are now being used which do not require personnel to place these calls. These methods are automated and can provide the same service without taking up time which could be better used by personnel in the office. This is achieved through use of a simple program which utilizes information which is entered by personnel regarding contact information for the patient. The system acknowledges that the patient has an upcoming appointment and sends out the appointment reminder via telephone, email, or text messaging. All of these have added a different aspect to the patient/medical office interaction.
One form of an automated appointment reminder uses information collected from file data for the patient. The contact information is retrieved and the system places an automated telephone call to the patient to remind them of their appointment. During the telephone call, the patient can choose what they would like to do regarding the appointment. They choose this via a menu provided by the automated system. They can choose to confirm, cancel, or reschedule the appointment. This information is then submitted to the appointment setter for proper classification.
Another form of delivering the reminder utilizes the contact information much like the above mentioned method. The difference is that this variety of automation uses email to deliver the reminder. Within the email, the message will contain information such as appointment date and time, location of the appointment, and the doctor being seen. The email will also contain information regarding changing or canceling the appointment. This information usually provides a telephone number or email address to contact with information concerning the cancellation or rescheduling of the appointment. Appointment setters use this information to update the schedule and fill any appointment slots made available as a result of this correspondence.
The most advanced of these automated systems uses contact information to determine whether or not the patient uses a cell phone that is capable of accepting text messages. If the patient can accept text messaging, the system sends an appointment reminder via text message. The text will include a brief reminder along with contact information if the patient must cancel the appointment or reschedule. If a return is not sent by the patient, the appointment is confirmed or the patient may be instructed to send a chosen text back to the system which confirms or cancels the appointment.
Appointment reminders are something that any medical, or other type of business that makes appointments, needs to take advantage of. The reason for this is simple. Human beings are forgetful creatures. Most people will write down the time and date of the appointment and while some will even write it on their calendar, most people record the information on a scrap piece of paper which they promptly use. As soon as the paper turns up missing, the person forgets that they have even made the appointment in the first place. Another reason that some people miss their appointments is because they keep meaning to call the office and reschedule but they keep forgetting, or telling themselves that they have plenty of time.
Missed appointments cost the medical community thousands of dollars every single month. There are two ways that the missed appointment cost the facility money. The first is that for the amount of time that the physician was supposed to be busy with the patient, they are now not getting paid anything. There is no patient to see and nobody that they can charge. Not only is the facility not making any money, they are in fact losing it. The staff still needs to be paid for their time, the heat is still running and the lights are still on. One or two missed appointments a week can really cut into the facilities revenue.
The purpose of the appointment reminders is to jog the patient's memory and remind them that yes, they do have an upcoming appointment. While there is a chance that the patient will no longer be able to make the appointment at least they can cancel it, which gives the office time to try to book another patient for the place. The trick with appointment reminders is that they need to be done far enough in advance that the patient has time to cancel, but not so far in advance that they forget about the appointment all over again. Experts recommend that the patient appointment reminders should be sent between 24-72 hours in advance.
Another way to help inspire patients to remember that they have an upcoming appointment is by charging them in advance. Currently there are several automated medical schedulers that help the patient use the internet to book their appointment and then charges their credit card. Having already paid for the appointment, the patient is far more likely to remember. If a medical office is interested in pre-charging their patients for appointments, they are going to have to make sure that the virtual receptionist program that they use has a feature called signature capture, which helps eliminate the chances of the patient saying that they were fraudulently charged.
It is not possible for a medical facility to send out patient appointment reminders quickly, accurately, and inexpensively. The best way to do this is by installing an automated medical scheduler program. In addition to handling the monotonous task of sending out patient appointment reminders, the program will also help the patients book their appointments, prevent the facility from overbooking and overextending themselves, and can also make transferring patient files from one facility to another much easier. The most important thing that office managers need to keep in mind when they are looking for a new virtual receptionist software program is to make sure that they get one that is both secure and been programmed to recognize medical terminology.
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