Feb 5, 2015

The Physician Portal: Create a Digital Calling Card that Offers the Keys to the Kingdom

The word his its root in the Middle Ages.  Merriam Webster defines a portal as a “door or entrance: especially a grand or imposing one.”  Originally, it denoted the gateway to a city, church or castle.

When creating your physician portal—the  digital doorway to your medical practice, so to speak—make sure that it conveys your commitment to quality patient care and to robust, efficient referrer services that set you apart from the competition.  Savvy medical marketers use their portal to add value to their relationships with referrers through premium services and streamlined workflow—in short they offer up the keys to a very comfortable kingdom designed with customer needs in mind. 

It’s a fact.  Today, much of your cross-practice communication takes place digitally and can be  centralized and automated  within the portal’s digital doorway as an alternative to email, phone and faxing.  Busy referrers will appreciate knowing that you are overseeing the entire exam process—from order to follow up--and are delivering the white-glove service that streamlines their workflow.

So when it comes to a successful portal, make sure you create a welcoming, personalized look and feel—no robo  atmosphere here.  Also remember that offering robust functionality is actually an economy of sorts because once your portal is operational, you can offer extra services that take virtually no additional staff time.  It also goes without saying that ease of use is crucial or your referrers may simply choose not to engage with your technology.

When implementing a premium portal, incorporate it heavily in your marketing plans and encourage staff to showcase it in front of prospective referrers.  Give them a look inside the gate as it were so that  they understand in advance how committed you are to meeting their needs and delivering a high level of service. Remember, your portal can be a very powerful calling card for new prospects. Employ technology that serves dual functions of streamlining operations and inspiring collaboration for tighter referring physician relationships and stronger patient loyalty.

Following are tips from our experts on how to make your portal stand out from the competition as a highly effective sales tool:

Look for a robust and flexible technology that will support your referrer’s workflow and automate as many aspects of it as possible.  This includes patient registration, results-delivery and follow up.  All data should be available in real time.

For registration, make it easy for physicians to request an appointment with your practice online, manage insurance eligibility processes and provide downloadable copies of all forms for both patients and physicians.  Bar-coded forms boost efficiency.   Adding patient educational materials also is a good idea.

For results-communications, supply not only online copies of current reports and images but also historical reports.

Follow up material should include historical data, patient satisfaction surveys and a robust patient portal.

In particular, most referrers will appreciate a thorough eligibility manager to ensure patients receive care in a timely fashion.   Look for one that provides detailed information about covered services, deductibles, co-insurance and more. It should display where patients are in the verification process and process batch claims.  Also make available a history of prior exams enterprise wide and beyond if possible to ensure ordered exams have not been completed elsewhere and may not be covered.

As patients move through the exam process, make sure referrers can see at a glance exactly where they are—did they come in or were they a no show?  Did they successfully complete the exam process? Are further tests needed?  Did they leave satisfied?  How is the exam interpretation process proceeding?

Build in patient engagement by linking your patient portal to your referrer’s digital work area  so that they can encourage sign up and add extra materials as needed.

Throughout the portal adopt best practices while catering to your referring physicians.  Brand your  portal to create a strong impression.  Make sure it is intuitive and easy to use.

Jan 22, 2015

AbbaDox EHR Awarded Stage 2 Meaningful Use Certification

Delivers Meaning Well Beyond the Measures

It’s official—IDS has successfully completed the next major step in its ongoing commitment to creating a seamless, cloud-based IT platform enabling connectivity across the continuum-of-care.  We are extremely pleased to announce that AbbaDox EHR 14 has received certification for Stage 2 Meaningful Use (MU) as Complete EHR Ambulatory software by the Office of the National Coordinator Authorized Certification Body (ONC-ACB) program. 

Our new next-generation EHR adds vital, state-of-the-art patient record functionality and communications to our AbbaDox platform and keeps providers poised for the future, while helping them qualify for Meaningful Use reimbursements today. 

AbbaDox EHR 14 is a fully cloud-based health records system built on our core AbbaDox enterprise technology with capabilities for scheduling, reporting, insurance eligibility verification, broad based communications and more.  Our EHR not only meets but exceeds MU requirements for advanced cross-enterprise, cross-vendor communications and unrivaled data sharing across medical sites and EHR systems.  In part, this is thanks to the AbbaDox platform’s built-in interoperability cloud that accepts and transforms disparate data to enable sophisticated, seamless information sharing across enterprises and vendors.  It’s a virtual data communications translation service in the sky.

With all this integrated functionality, AbbaDox EHR surpasses competing technology when it comes to supporting four of today’s most important concerns:
  • Care Coordination     
  • Transition of Care
  • Population Management
  • Patient Engagement

Using AbbaDox EHR, providers can go well beyond the required numbers, ratios and data manipulations involved in merely meeting measures to achieve what is most meaningful to their business model.  They can accomplish what is important to actually deliver a higher standard of care and what will position them to compete favorably in today’s competitive healthcare environment.  For example, with AbbaDox EHR, an accountable care organization (ACO) can easily support patient record communications across all locations no matter what their IT infrastructures.  Notably, to attest to Stage 2 on transition of care measures, sites need only show successful electronic transfer of 50% of all patient records. Yet, to function efficiently, an ACO needs to accomplish this on a much larger scale, and AbbaDox EHR supports this goal. 

Overall, our new EHR and the AbbaDox platform effortlessly enable the broad access to standards-based information that underlies healthcare reform and that will support the success of healthcare organizations of every type in the future.  Our AbbaDox HL7 cloud currently facilitates seamless, direct communication of information among multiple IT systems and healthcare enterprises without costly onsite configuration.  Now, through a wide range of communication protocols all involved in or eventually involved in MU compliance, providers can enjoy a truly robust way to support Care Coordination, Transition of Care and Population Management.  These include Clinical Document Architecture (CDA), Continuity of Care Documents (CCDs), Continuity of Care Records (CCRs), and Direct Messaging secure email.  The AbbaDox platform’s broad analytic capabilities for historical and real time data also further Population Management goals.

Patient engagement is supported by many of these documents, which can be made available to treated individuals after a medical visit and then forwarded on to other practitioners across the continuum of care.  Our robust, user friendly patient portal, customizable for a particular practice, also supports these goals.

In short, through its MU-compliant AbbaDox EHR, IDS overcomes numerous common barriers to communication and extends its commitment to broad, seamless information access across the healthcare system. 

Jan 6, 2015

RSNA 2014: Much Talk about Talk, Software Soars Skyward

We’ve heard it all before, but once again much of the big buzz at RSNA 2014 was about talking—about IT systems talking to one another with interoperability of data.   At the same time, radiology vendors  had their heads in the clouds and their feet were firmly planted on the ground, as virtual IT offerings expanded in new and exciting directions during the events in the past, interoperability was also on everyone’s minds with the ever-growing emphasis on Meaningful Use (MU).

IDS showcased technology that addressed both trends—its unique  IT interoperability cloud service, which enables HL7 data to flow from a medical IT system to the AbbaDox cloud, where it is transformed into a format compatible with an endpoint system, typically in another customer location. It is then forwarded on as compatible data.  The unique AbbaDox Interoperability cloud enables disparate systems to communicate as a customized, managed, turnkey SaaS solution, with all the inherent benefits of cloud technology.

While other vendors discussed custom interfaces and costly onsite HL7 feeds, attendees flocked to the IDS booth to discuss this unique interoperability offering.

Other IDS interoperability technology also included the new AbbaDox Exchange cross-enterprise image and data exchange platform, which automates radiology report distribution in a format compatible with any referrer’s EHR.

When it comes to the cloud, show attendees saw offerings introduced in a range of new categories with many additional vendors looking at the cloud for the first time.  This is good news for radiologists who want to boost their functionality and efficiency with new IT implementations, while minimizing maintenance and cost—all recognized benefits of software in the sky.

Cloud storage continues to be a major trend, while the lowering of hardware costs are making cloud services prices more affordable across the board.  Also big at RSNA were cloud-based image viewers with anywhere, anytime functionality, often paired up with cloud-based vendor neutral archives (VNAs). 

At RSNA, IDS showcased a truly unique cloud offering—Voice2Dox speech recognition and reporting platform with cloud-based clinical speech recognition by Nuance. Thanks to its unique cloud architecture, this next-generation solution enables immediate access on any PC to user profiles, including universal PACS worklists, custom report templates, individual speech profiles and more.

After logging into Voice2Dox, radiologists dictate reports securely to the cloud.  Users talk at their own pace with voice controlled features and immediate report visualization and feedback.  Thanks to cloud architecture, wherever located, radiologists experience the same comprehensive reporting environment and workflow as in their primary Voice2Dox work site. This includes configurable master routines that ensure consistent reporting standards across radiologists, automatic matching of recommended templates to exams, easy embedding of key images and personalized medical vocabularies.

Voice2Dox reports also can be reviewed, edited and archived from any location.  They can be distributed directly to referring physicians by fax, standard email and physician portal as well as through MU-compliant Direct email as an EHR-ready file.

Also bringing new functionality to the cloud was IDS’ introduction of its cloud-based CRM v. 2.0, which features an innovative interactive mapping function showing all potential and existing referrers located in close proximity to a provider. The feature helps pinpoint strong referral prospects, while highlighting the locations of practices already recommending patients.

Map display can be filtered by medical specialty, current relationship status and user defined fields. It also can identify clusters of underserved regions to target appropriate physicians for new relationships and monitor trends and referral patterns. The new CRM also features advanced new architecture, enhanced database design, intuitive graphical interface, rich analytics and a robust marketing toolset.

When it comes to interoperability, do you feel many vendors are simply talking the talk without substance behind it?  What can we anticipate as the latest innovations as cloud architecture expand into the future?  The sky’s the limit.  What do you envision? 

Dec 24, 2014

Happy Birthday Radiology

Happy Birthday Radiology

RSNA 2014 Celebrates Sharing. . . and Keeping It to Yourself

RSNA 2014 was all about sharing—and not sharing!
This year marked the 100th annual meeting of the Radiology Society of North America (RSNA), and the society celebrated by creating an atmosphere of connection and kinship, while bringing history to life. Attendees shared in the spirit by diagnosing vintage x-ray images, witnessing a re-enactment of Wilhelm Roentgen's laboratory and checking out antique equipment.  A special memory book enabled meeting-goers to share memories of prior meetings.
From an IT standpoint, sharing figured prominently into this year’s event too, with the accent on cross-enterprise image and data communication to meet the growing mandates of healthcare reform.  At the same time, in the face of the myriad of financial challenges recent policy shifts present, one major element radiologists clearly did not want to share was their relationships with referring physicians.  Much of the talk on the RSNA floor was about ways to support referrers and revenues by enhancing service to clinicians.

At the event, vendors across the bustling halls focused on technologies that will help radiologists streamline interaction with referrers—making the life of both physician groups easier.  At the IDS booth, a major focus of excitement was the groundbreaking introduction of a platform supporting the twin goals of sharing . . . and not sharing.  New AbbaDox Exchange cross-enterprise image and data exchange platform supports automated radiology report distribution right to a referrer’s EHR.  With this efficiency and convenience, why would your referrer want to send patients anywhere else?

The new technology also supports the clinician’s ability to data share with any provider who has access to their patient records.  And, because it relies on Meaningful use (MU) Stage II compliant Direct Messaging, it brings referrers one big step closer to sharing in generous MU reimbursement. 

AbbaDox Exchange eliminates the complexity of HL7 data mapping, setup and maintenance as well as the time-consuming user input typical of other image sharing systems.  It blends seamlessly with existing workflow.

The subscribing facility’s images and radiology reports automatically and transparently flow to the AbbaDox cloud platform.  Based on information in the report, they then are forwarded to the referring physician’s Direct email address, along with a link to the related diagnostic quality images. After viewing, the EHR-ready communication can be saved in the referrer’s EHR system or other patient file. The Direct standards specify a simple, consistent way to send authenticated, encrypted health information directly to trusted recipients over the Internet.  Image links that accompany reports will also help referrers meet certain Stage 2 MU requirements.

The new IDS offering clearly was one of an exciting group of groundbreaking RSNA introductions that will keep radiologists positioned to thrive amidst the challenges of the future. Along with a look back, the RSNA 2014 provided a fascinating, not-to-be-missed glimpse of  what the specialty will look like during the next 100 years.  IDS is proud to have been a part of that picture.

Nov 4, 2014

The Customer Comes First

Streamlining the Referral Process with a Physician Portal

It should go without saying—but is too often overlooked.  The easier you make the referral process, the more patients you are likely to have referred. After all, in this age of healthcare reform, almost every medical practice is challenged to make the most of its time, and the specialists who support referrer efficiencies often win big in patient recommendations.   And also remember that once patients enter your office, a satisfying patient experience will reflect positively on your gatekeepers, helping them with their own patient retention.

Today, a robust referring physician portal can help you streamline the patient referral and intake process, in addition to supporting timely results distribution for your completed exams.  The best portals automate workflow for your staff as well as for referrers, so that offering this extra service with a smile isn’t a drain on anyone’s time.

Here’s what to look for in a high-performance patient portal to help support the referral process:
  • Online appointment requests. Enabling your referrers to send appointment requests before their patients leave the office helps ensure compliance with the next steps in care.  Naturally, every physician has a vested interest in following through with patients and helping to support a positive outcomes.  Immediate online exam ordering also helps lock in your new patient relationships to avoid any shopping around for alternate providers.
  • Electronic exam ordering.  Online exam ordering is a convenience for both referring physicians and patients and also helps ensure patient follow through.  Look for a portal that provides easy access to common procedural codes.
  • Insurance verification.  To ensure continuity of care, many physicians will want to take the extra steps to refer patients to a practice that accepts their insurance.  A good physician portal will offer referrers the opportunity to verify patient coverage before referring them to your practice, saving complications and time for all involved. 
  • Patient educational material.  Providing referrers with a selection of downloadable and printable patient educational materials for common procedures will help your referrers explain upcoming exams and provide reassurance.  Materials may be intended to support physician/patient discussion during an appointment or for post-appointment education.  Handouts should be written simply and clearly, avoiding medical jargon and focusing on the benefits of the upcoming exam.
  • Pre-exam instructions. Likewise, portals can provide pre-exam instructions, such as required fasting and special diets, medication avoidance and tips on comfortable dressing. Again provide these in a clearly written, simply laid out flyer.  Supplying these in advance helps streamline the procedure for all involved.
  • Practice introduction.  Welcome to Our Practice . . . Make patients feel at home and committed to their choice of a specialist.  Providing referrers with a short, eye-catching flyer detailing your qualifications, hours and location also will help simplify the exam process and help ensure patients arrive in a timely fashion.  Be sure to direct them to your practice website for additional information.
  • Web Chat.  A web chat feature is particularly convenient when referring practice staff is using your portal so that any questions can be answered expediently. 

Make sure to format all patient education material  as standard PDF  documents compatible with most office printers.  Test all files to ensure they seamlessly download, print and look great.

Keep in mind that all these offerings mean nothing if your referrer’s office staff is not familiar with your portal and how to use it.  Once your portal is up and running, have your marketing representative stop by and provide a brief demonstration—perhaps along with a basket of edible goodies.   Remember many people find new technology is exciting, medical personnel included.  So impress staff with your commitment to leveraging the best new high tech developments at every level, and make sure they are on your team.

Sep 25, 2014

The Customer Comes First

Catering to Your Referrers with Advanced Reporting and Speech Recognition

Welcome to the first installment in our series

Although it’s often just a single sheet of paper or digital document, the referring physician’s final report is among the most crucial factors affecting your referral stream and the profitability of your practice.  If your reports are not timely, precise, well-organized and geared towards your referrers’ preferences, then your entire medical business can suffer. Reports can make a major difference in the success or failure of your practice.

So not surprisingly, a robust reporting platform powered by advanced speech recognition is vitally important in the current competitive healthcare environment.  If you're not leveraging all of today's innovative tools, your competition may have an unfair advantage—and not just on paper.
All speech recognition and reporting solutions are not created equal.  Evaluate systems, and look for key features and functionalities.  The best systems will enhance your own practice’s workflow by providing the flexibility to support each physician’s reporting preferences through customized protocols, terminology unique to your specialty and practice, easy embedding of key images and more.  Faster workflow accelerates report generation and results communication to your referrers.  Through advanced templating, a good system will also support reports that are more precise, consistent and easy-to-understand.  That’s another major benefit for your referrers.
Most medical practices will benefit by minimizing the time and expenses of maintaining and upgrading a reporting platform.   A cloud solution like IDS Voice2Dox will shift this responsibility to your vendor and enable easy anywhere, anytime availability of transcribed reports.  Industry leading Voice2Dox also offers a host of important productivity-boosting features for any medical practice.  Many of these have extra value for physicians who work in multiple locations or provide virtual consultation or teleradiology services.   

Today, a state-of-the-art reporting platform should include:

·      Support for the medical speech recognition engine—or engines—of your choice.  Some practices prefer the flexibility of cloud-based technology, while others will choose an onsite solution.  The best engines will help your practice ensure overall accuracy and correct medical terminology.  Dragon Medical Practice Edition 2 is among the best solutions for local installation, while SpeechAnywhere is a high performance cloud-based recognition engine.  Voice2Dox supports both, and will offer compatibility with a full range of additional voice engines in the future.

·      A broad selection of easily customizable report templates specific to your practice area to enhance reporting efficiency.

·      Powerful and robust template management capabilities to ensure easy access to all templates throughout the practice or department.  This not only speeds workflow but provides all physicians with access to consistent reporting features—leading to standardized reports.

·      Roaming profiles that deliver the same familiar work environment in any location, whether office, hospital or home, and universal PACS worklist compatibility to assure appropriate prioritization of exam reading.

·      For teleradiologists—support for simultaneous communication with multiple PACS and other image viewing solutions on the same workstation.  This will enable use of a single familiar reporting and robust speech recognition platform with all client image viewing platforms for familiar, ultra-fast workflow.

·      Easy Crop and Paste addition of thumbnail images.  Often, a picture really is worth a thousand words for your referral base.

·      Automated reminders about exam specifics such as modality, types of studies, and imaging location to speed workflow.

·      Floating checklists of key report content based on modality and exam type.

·      Advanced editing functions such as drag and drop repositioning of phrases, and report availability on mobile devices for revisions on-the-fly.

·      Built-in Critical Findings workflow to ensure compliance, while allowing workflow to progress.

·      Physician portal for remote signing, editing and archiving. 

·      Automated routine sharing, including public, mentor-follower and explicit share.

·      Automated distribution to ensure reports reach their intended recipients quickly and efficiently.  Choose a system that caters to physician preference with delivery via email, fax, remote printing, referring physician portal and EMR interface.

·      Analytics to track productivity and eliminate bottlenecks in your workflow and radiology team.

·      Affordable transaction-based pricing.

Quite simply, if you depend on referrals, it’s smart to focus on your reporting and to cater to your referrers!  

Sep 12, 2014

The Customer Comes First

. . . Practicing Medicine with a Retailer’s Mindset – Part II

The rules of medicine have changed.  To remain successful, physicians must be concerned with not only quality-of-care but also the quality of the referrer and patient experience. Consider these strategies for leveraging technology to deliver an extra measure of customer service to your patients and referrers.

  • Use state-of-the-art voice recognition and reporting systems to ensure that your patient report is timely and easy-to-read. Choose a system that caters to physician preference with delivery via email, fax, remote printing and EMR interface.  Also, look for one offering automated critical results communications.
  • If your practice provides diagnostic testing, enable easy access to the full test results online, again possibly through a physician portal.
  • Online exam ordering or scheduling is a major convenience for referrers  and immediately locks in your new  patient relationships—avoiding patient shopping for other providers.
  • Take advantage of analytics technology to eliminate workflow bottlenecks, helping boost appointment time turnaround and avoid long office wait times as well as speeding referring physician reporting.
  • Make all patient forms available digitally for completion before an appointment—either through email or a patient portal.
  • Train your team to provide a pleasant patient interaction, from the first phone call to the time patients leave the office.
Also, while a physician contact management system delivers a real boost for referral marketing, you can also use it as a customer service tool. Automating periodic referrer and patient appreciation emails is essentially service with a smile, and a great way to keep your practice top of mind.

Join us next time for a detailed discussion on choosing a voice recognition and reporting platform to optimize interaction with your referring physicians.