IT’S TIME TO ENGAGE. INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY HELPS YOUR PRACTICE AND YOUR PATIENTS
BY JAMES RITCHIE
If you’re going to be an eyecare provider today, it helps to have a knack for information technology — or at least a healthy respect for it.
Technology keeps patients engaged with your practice, which can boost your bottom line. Communication solutions help you parse data and make decisions. Online portals, meanwhile, allow patients to perform such tasks as viewing their medical records, filling out forms and requesting appointments.
But patient portals are about more than marketing and freeing up staff time. They can help optometrists receive federal financial incentives for meeting the government’s Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements for electronic health record adoption. To receive the full amount, a practice must ensure in 2014 that at least 5 percent of its patients are engaging with their data through a portal.
You can find patient-engagement solutions sold on their own or bundled with other modules, and they’re available in the cloud or as traditional software.
One thing’s for sure: The days of the low-tech eyecare practice are fast coming to a close.
1. Demandforce’s marketing and communication platform is optimized for mobile technology and can help practices get noticed online.
2.Through its online portal, Uprise by VisionWeb lets patients complete questionnaires before appointments, access medical history and lab results, obtain educational materials and treatment instructions and request appointments.
3. RevolutionEHR offers a portal allowing patients to access account balances, optical orders, diagnosis codes and other information.
POINTS TO CONSIDER
You want a patient-communication system that can communicate with 100 percent of your patients — it needs email, text and automatic voice capabilities. — Dr. Michael Arnell, WebSystem3
Since optometry requires both a medical and refraction-specific optical and contact lens ordering and inventory system that is intimately tied to invoicing and vision insurance plans, an eyecare-specific solution is a real advantage. Anything else is loaded with workarounds and a corresponding loss of both effectiveness and efficiency. — Ian Lane, VisionWeb/Uprise
The most important thing is to have something that fits with the workflow of your office and automates processes rather than adding work. — Aimée LaFont Leifer, Demandforce
If you make sure your patient portal is intuitive, they will go there naturally, and everything will work the way it’s supposed to. — Cindy Braden, RevolutionEHR
A vision-specific system will make it easier to determine insurance eligibility before the patient comes in by asking detailed vision-related questions. — Arnell
Some optometrists are seeing that if they spend two minutes now explaining the portal it can save them three five-minute phone calls later. For example, patients can check their optical orders online instead of calling every day to ask if their frames are in. — Braden
It’s crucial to figure out how your patients want to be contacted and find ways to communicate with them that fit into their lives. — Leifer
Patient portals are offered either as already embedded with an EHR system or as a standalone add-on to an existing EHR. Eyecare practices really need to do their due diligence when considering how a standalone add-on would work with the rest of their practice. — Lane
WHAT ECPs SAY
DR. ROBERT BASS | Solo practice, Manassas, VA
“If you’re not keeping up with these solutions, then when it’s time to retire, you’re not going to have a practice to sell.”
“When you’re communicating with younger patients, they don’t want a piece of paper. They want a text or email. Their phone is their life.”
“The major companies all seem to do a similar (patient communication) product. Look for customer service. When I need to do something, my (software) company calls and says, ‘Let’s get online and do this together.’”
“I wanted data and better communication with my patients. They found patients I had lost in my system and recalled them.”
Uprise by VisionWeb