Dealing with patients and their medical complaints is your area of expertise. However, running your practice in an optimal way to support your patients is not necessarily your strong point. Patient management requires a different skill set that you may not yet have although you can certainly acquire it. Even if you are a seasoned practice manager, there’s plenty you can learn from the world of digital client relationship management (CRM). Let’s take a look at how you can combine healthcare provision with CRM techniques by means of an intuitive, integrated practice management system.
In particular, we are going to focus on:
- How to choose between a cloud-based solution and traditional installed software
- What client relationship management actually is in relation to patients
- What distinguishes electronic health records from electronic medical records
- How practice management solutions and EHR tools differ
- How doctors and other practitioners can benefit from patient management solutions
- The best ways to utilise practice management software in your clinic
Is It Okay for Patient Management Tools to Be Cloud-based?
A fair amount of people have their reservations when it comes to using cloud-based services in healthcare. This is true despite the fact that the very same people are happy enough to do so in their private lives, whether this is through the use of DropBox, fitness apps on their mobile devices or whatever else. As long as you as pick a secure and reputable practice management system, it being cloud-based only ends up being an advantage. Let’s examine what it means to choose a cloud solution over a more traditional out-of-the-box patient management software.
Cloud-based patient management tools allow you to:
- Carry out your work from anywhere in the world
- Get started from scratch in moments without the need to download or install anything
- Spread out the cost of IT services by paying monthly
- Not have to store your data on your own premises
- Safely store encrypted data in a way that means it cannot be lost
How Patient Management Benefits from a CRM Approach
Healthcare is rightly thought of as a different, special area of human endeavour where the same rules don’t apply. That said, there is plenty that can be learned from other industries and applied in an appropriate way. This is never truer than in the case of patient management where many of the approaches adopted in other spheres for managing clients can be used. Such approaches include optimal ways to track communications with patients, keep them up to date with the latest developments in your clinic and in their medical conditions and much more.
Medical CRM tools are typically split into three categories which overlap in the best software options:
- Electronic medical records (EMR)
- Electronic health records (EHR)
- Practice management systems and platforms
Choosing the Right Tool for Patient and Practice Management
When looking at EMR, EHR and practice management software options, you need to pick the solution that covers as many of your requirements as possible while providing a high enough level of functionality in each case. Given how these three categories of solutions are split up in most cases, it can be difficult to understand which is the right tool for the job. Here’s a breakdown of what each type of software does and how it could relate to the task at hand.
Electronic medical records software can be easily recognised by the following characteristics:
- Allows you to manage patients’ health records
- Data gathered can not be shared with other providers in a simple way (unlike with Medesk)
- Permits you to create electronic prescriptions
- Includes appointment scheduling and a patient portal
Electronic health records software has a few additional tools to make your life easier, such as:
- Allows you to share healthcare data about a given patient with other providers
- Permits data analysis for a wide range of clinical criteria
- Contains searchable diagnostic and pharmaceutical databases like ICD-10, BNF, SNOMED CT and more
Practice management solutions include all of the above and also allow you to manage patients as individual people. This is helpful for clinical and non-clinical staff alike. After all, everyone wants to be able to communicate with their patients better. Improved patient engagement through excellent communication ultimately results in healthier patients, a more successful ongoing relationship and therefore a much greater number of referrals through word of mouth.
What Does CRM Contribute to Patient Management?
The world of client relationship management has a great deal to contribute to patient management in healthcare. The best practice management solutions all have an aspect of CRM built into them and you can quickly judge how good a given software is by how much thought has been put into its communication features.
If a solution clearly makes interacting with patients an integral part of its feature, then it’s obvious that there are healthcare professionals involved in the development and this can only be a good thing.
Top Tips for Patient Management
CRM tools bring with them a whole array of best practices, many of which can be applied directly to medicine and your clinic. Other techniques derived from CRM can be used in all sorts of aspects of your work, including note-taking and similar tasks that may not at first glance appear to have much to do with patient communication. Let’s look at some top tips on how to manage your patients as people and get them coming back to your practice time and time again.
Track Your Patients to Discover More of Them
It has long been possible to track visitors to your practice website and understand what pages they have been reading. More recently, it has become possible and indeed vital to link this tracking with your online booking system. For example, Medesk works with Google Analytics to allow you to find out what kinds of prospective patients visit your website and go on to make a booking.
Tracking patients before they even become your patients includes the following benefits:
- Evaluate the effectiveness of your website in terms of patient and clinic information
- Understand what parts of your online booking process don’t work well enough
- Learn what kinds of patients are attracted to your services
Learn from Customer Service Best Practices
Given that the way you interact with your patients has such a massive effect on the success of your practice, it makes perfect sense that you want your communication with those in your care to be as smooth as possible.
Put your patients first and make sure they can contact you and make appointments via:
- Live chat even if it is manned by software not people
- Callback request options where patients can leave their verified phone number
- Online booking for services, locations and individual doctors
Gather Patient Data for Clinical and Business Reporting
It’s crucial that you collect as much data about your patients and all associated activities as possible. If you can segment this information as you go along, then it’s even better because you’ll understand exactly what’s happening in your clinic for specific patient subgroups, certain business key performance indicators and just about anything else.
Use colour-coded tags to capture key information and benefit in the following ways amongst many others:
- Learn exactly who your patients are and what they want
- Focus your marketing efforts to attract these specific types of patients
- Realise what your best referrals partners and acquisitional channels are
- Understand how your doctors are reacting to specific clinical issues
- Provide relevant information for CQC officers on request
Keep Your Patients in the Loop at All Times
If you can provide your patients with as much information as they can effectively absorb and in the timeframe they expect, then they are going to be happy with you. After all, there’s nothing worse than going to the doctor and coming out of the consultation even more confused and upset than you were when you went in.
You can avoid this and make sure your patients are satisfied with your services by:
- Reminding receptionists to reach out to patients through automated tasks
- Sending out documents, test results and more straight from consultation screens
- Automating appointment confirmations and reminders by text and email
- Generating and sending links for online consultations in a single click