As a physician-entrepreneur, running and managing your own practice can be extremely time-consuming. A 2018 study on physician burnout by the Medical Journal of Australia found 32 percent of the doctors surveyed reported high levels of emotional exhaustion and 35 percent reported increased cynicism. However, another study done by The National Academies of Science and Engineering determined that technology that improves clinical work efficacy and efficiency, like a practice management system, can have beneficial effects on clinician burnout and well-being. Common to many healthcare professionals running a private practice, the business management side can start to take up more time than the reason you started the practice to begin with: the patients.
Physicians and healthcare professionals open private practices to foster deeper connections with their patients — to remember them, their families, and their health histories, and to build a level of trust that many seek from a doctor-patient relationship. A mountain of paperwork shouldn’t detract from your patient care. With a practice management system that integrates with the tools you need, your business can run itself behind the scenes so your patients can take centre stage.
How to improve patient care? Here are four ways you can streamline your business and free up more time for patient care.
Centralise your business operations with a practice management system
The benefit of running your own practice is the ability to spend more time with patients, get to know them and their health, and build a trusting patient-doctor relationship. You’re also able to prioritise listening to your patients’ needs and feedback to create the best patient care experience. This keeps those patients coming back and motivates them to refer friends and family.
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re already running a practice, the first step to running a successful business is thinking about it through a centralised lens.
By running your practice through a medical practice management system, you can manage all of the components of your business through one integrated tool—giving you a 360-degree-view of your practice so you can keep all of the parts moving and running smoothly. This makes it easier to identify areas to improve operational and administrative efficiency, freeing up more time to invest in growing your practice and enhancing patient care.
With software built specifically for healthcare professionals and private practices, a healthcare management system helps you automate tasks to check patients in and out, manage insurance billing, keep track of patient charts with electronic health records, manage patient communication, handle accounting, and stay compliant—all through one practice management system that integrates programs across all touchpoints of your practice, simplifying your operations.
Automate email updates and marketing to grow your practice
Communication and trust between patients and practitioners are more important than ever. Consistent communication about health and safety guidelines, as well as regular updates and announcements, help build a rapport with your patients that establishes another layer of trust—especially if you only see a patient a few times a year. Tools like email marketing software help you establish active and regular communication with patients that in turn builds trust and loyalty.
While word of mouth is a common way to generate new business in the healthcare industry, solely relying on patient referrals limits your reach and can slow your potential growth. With an automated email marketing program, you can broaden the type and level of communication from your practice—from advertising promotions and reaching out to potential patients, to notifying existing patients of announcements, sending reminders, and sharing satisfaction surveys to keep a pulse on the patient care experience. All of these tactics combined grow your business and build customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Furthermore, the insights that you can glean from an email marketing program can help you better understand your patients. Information like open rates, clickthrough rates, and unsubscribes help you understand what messages resonate with your base. From there, you can segment your audience and refine your messaging to make sure that you’re sending the most relevant and helpful information to your patients at all times.
By using email marketing software, you’ll spend less time managing communication across different touchpoints of your practice, giving you back more time to focus on in-person and phone patient care communication.
Give patients the tools to manage their own appointments
Providing patients with the tools to manage their own appointment scheduling cuts down administrative tasks and reduces friction, especially if you’re a smaller practice without support staff. With appointment software that integrates with your payment provider and your practice management software, you can automatically collect payments and send any pre- or post-appointment paperwork and registration.
Whether those appointments are in-person or virtual, a medical practice management system for appointments is key to a medical office that runs smoothly. Your practice management software will likely have an online booking tool, or you can integrate with other online appointment software like Square Appointments or Acuity Scheduling (which integrates with Square Payments).
Regardless of the program you choose, another benefit of an online appointment program is the autonomy and ownership you give to your patients. When customers have more autonomy to book and manage their own appointments, you reduce the chance of no-shows and late cancellations.
By using software that also remembers patient information, payment history, and payment data, you can minimise dual data entry for your patients, which can create a difficult customer experience for them, increasing the risk of patient churn.
With all of those pre-appointment tasks handled, you can focus all your attention on your patients throughout the visit.
Make payments easy and integrate with accounting tools
Figuring out the best moment to take payments can be difficult, especially if you’re running your own practice with a small support staff (or none). With a secure payment solution that offers a variety of payment options and integrates with your practice management system, you can figure out the best payment option to ensure a quick and seamless transaction for you and your patients.
For telehealth appointments, you’ll already have the information you need through your integrated appointment booking software to take secure payments online. If you prefer to invoice patients after their visit, Square’s invoicing software connects with your telehealth and practice management software to make resolving invoices easier for both you and your patients. With a payments provider that integrates with your accounting software, all your payments will be accounted for automatically.
By integrating all your payments with your practice management system, you can easily identify which touchpoints patients prefer, and adjust your practice as needed.
Wearing two hats as a small business owner and a healthcare professional is challenging, but with the right tools that give you a centralised view of your business in real time, being a business owner can take a back seat when your medical practice runs smoothly. This allows you to spend more time on patient care, building relationships, and growing your practice.