By Justin Bazan, OD
Cloud-based electronic health records and practice management systems empower ODs to be practice CEOs. Manage with the perspective that comes from being outside the office.
MANAGE OPERATIONS FROM AFAR. Review patient records, finances and orders from vendors from your living room couch.
MONITOR WORK OF SUPPORT STAFF. Spot-check invoices and other business documents remotely.
ALLOW STAFF OUT OF OFFICE TO WORK. Absent opticians can still place spectacle and contact lens orders and other orders to vendors.
ODs who are practice owners have more than their patients to manage–they have staff and office efficiency to maintain. Accomplishing those things–whether near or far–has gotten easier thanks to cloud-based electronic records and practice management technology. I use the accessibility of the cloud to ensure smooth operations for my patients, even when I’m nowhere near my office, increasing efficiency.
Opportunity for Flexible Schedule
Cloud technology allows me to manage office operations, such as maintenance of patient records, and review of finances and orders from vendors without leaving my home. The amount of time I am in the office is based on whether I have an associate available to help manage the patient load. Seeing patients is the one thing I can’t do from my living room couch! Other than seeing patients, there aren’t any other duties or work that require me to be physically present.
I’m currently in the office 40 hours a week seeing patients. When I had one to two associates working, I dropped down to as little as 16 hours in the office, with more of my time focused on working remotely.I now spend six to eight hours a week working remotely. Typically it is split between two mornings during the week.
Fully-Integrated, Cloud-Based Practice Management/EHR: Uprise
Uprise is a fully-integrated, 100 percent cloud-based, practice management and EHR solution designed specifically for optometric practices. It also has complete 2014 certification for Meaningful Use, and ICD-9 and ICD-10 functionality.
Its smart workflow guides you through diagnosis, treatment, coding and billing in fewer clicks compared to other systems. And, it was designed to work seamlessly on a tablet or computer, PC and Mac, so you pick the device that works for you. Since Uprise is completely cloud-based, you can log in anywhere with an Internet connection.
With Uprise, all of the tools for product catalog management, patient recalls, e-prescribing, patient education, and code verification are embedded, so you don’t have to set up or manage third-party integrations. Plus, there’s no hardware to install, so you can go live faster.
You get a solution that’s easy to use, looks great and is packed with features you and your staff will love.
Create Cloud-Based Routine
When I am not in the office, but working on the business, I spend my time running reports and checking system efficiency. I split my time between working in our cloud-based EHR and our Google Apps for Business. Typically, I will review our daily, weekly and monthly financial projections. E-mail is our primary mode of communication with people, so I will also review the week’s correspondence to ensure our high level of customer service is being delivered. I also work remotely with our billing specialist, who works remotely herself. We go over insurance issues and accounts receivables. Marketing reports and recalls are also done remotely at least once a month.
Having the ability to access my systems remotely allows me to work comfortably from home. Quite honestly, I’m usually sitting by my computer, jamming music, drinking coffee, and doing so in, lets just say, very casual attire. If I had to spend those hours at the office, it would feel like I lived at the office. Being able to work remotely creates space from the office, which is healthy for me. With the weather turning nice, and our WiFi-enabled parks, you might just see me under a tree working! Surely a much better spot than at the office.
Optimize Business Advantages of Not Having to Be There
From a business management perspective, it is important for an OD not to have to be present in-person every day for his practice to run efficiently. The goal of most ODs is to have the practice become self sufficient so they can just be the CEO providing the direction, objectives and strategy. Once you get your systems working consistently correct, you simply need to monitor and then adjust them as needed. This gives OD-owners more flexibility in the way they want to spend their time. Instead of being tied down to having to be physically present everyday, they have the opportunity to chose when they want to be there–a freedom valued by nearly all business owners.
Manage Support Staff from Afar
I spot-check our invoices. If I find invoicing errors, I will show staff the errors and use e-mail to help resolve the issues. I’ve learned it’s best to have documentation. Our cloud-based EHR allows me to see who did the invoicing, and our e-mail records leave an archive of our communication.
Having the freedom to work from afar is something staff value themselves because it provides flexibility. When a main optician had to unexpectedly handle a personal issue, she was still able to put in a couple hours of work and monitor e-mail from home. This means that the business is minimally impacted and she maintains her income. She values the fact that she does not have to push her workload onto somebody else and that she can continue to take care of the patients. As an hourly employee, she loves the fact that she was still able to work and profit from those hours. Having this ability to work from afar can help to grow and retain staff because it allows you to recognize their desire to provide help, despite not physically being in the office. Staff in the past may have felt guilty about calling in sick or needing to take time off. Being able to get some work done from afar eases their worries.
1) Financial results: daily, weekly, monthly
2) Office revenue exams/optical
3) Number of exams
4) Capture rates
Coordinate Care with Associates
I coordinate patient care and the office’s operations with associate doctors very easily due to our cloud-based EHR. The associate doctors have the same remote access, which enables them to view important data such as scheduling information and patient charts. Our cloud EHR has a great system in which we can message and “task” each other, or send notes to each other about work that needs to get completed. This helps ensure that we are on the same page and important things get done.
Have Staff Also Access the Practice Cloud
When we have a key team member absent because they are too sick to interact with people, they often can work remotely. For example, if our optician on schedule that day isn’t able to come in, we don’t sweat not having coverage. That optician can perform many of her duties from out of the office. She is very adept at handling e-mail and processing orders remotely, making life in the office easier for the rest of us.
Replying to e-mails is huge for us. Our front desk staff, our optical staff and our doctors all continuously monitor e-mail. It is our primary mode of communication.
Scheduling is also all done in the cloud. One does not have to be in the office to ensure the accuracy of the schedule. On social media, some of the best posts are about what we are doing in the office, but they don’t have to be done when we are in the office!
Take Advantage of the Ever-Enhancing Cloud
Our cloud-based EHR has continued to evolve and add features so that management from afar is even easier. For example, our cloud system now has an app that allows me to quickly and easily perform basic functions. Most often I use it to check the schedule on my way in. Sometimes the first appointment slot isn’t filled, and it’s nice to be able to see that while lying in bed. It doesn’t happen a lot, but it is nice when I can hit that snooze button.
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Justin Bazan, OD, Park Slope Eye, Brooklyn, NY, started his own practice cold. He speaks regularly on strategies for marketing your practice via social networks. To contact: firstname.lastname@example.org