352 Inc. / Digital Marketing / November 28th, 2007

Healthcare is missing the boat..

Many, and maybe most, healthcare providers are not realizing the benefit of the web. Clinics and Hospitals are businesses just like any other business in that only the strong will survive. Healthcare providers must leverage every avenue to bring in more patients… and the reality of the healthcare business is that not all patients are created equally and that in order to do well a practice must bring in the right kind of patients. 

Here are just a few areas where I see low hanging fruit: ·        

Scheduling: Patients do make choices and many times, ease of getting an appointment is a good reason to choose one provider over another. Additionally, referring physicians also make decisions on where they will refer their patients. Again, ease of getting their patients an appointment is another good reason to refer a patient to one practice over another. ·        

Registration:  Registration can happen on-line before the patient gets to their appointment. If documents need to be signed, they can be printed and signed before coming to the appointment. I don’t know about you but I can type much faster than I can write by hand. Completing registration paperwork in the lobby is a complete waste of time for most people. Plus, in many instances, this paperwork is either scanned in or manually entered back into an electronic medical record (EMR) system. Either way, it is a waste of time and money for those involved in the processing of the paperwork. ·        

Online Electronic Medical Records (EMR): Medicine is turning into a business of specialists. That means that a patient can be seeing many different specialists at many different locations. In order to complete the circle of care, it is important that Healthcare providers have access to important clinical information related to the care of their patients. Providers cannot depend on the patients to provide this important information. Simply too much can be lost in the translation. And what about the patients? We have rights to our own medical information. Why not make this information available online? Although electronic means to store information are certainly not foolproof, neither are paper methods. Banks have figured out ways to secure financial information and allow financial transactions to be completed with the click of a mouse. The healthcare industry needs to take note.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act was not created to hinder healthcare. In fact, it was actually created to promote better healthcare. Part of HIPAA has to do with privacy and part of HIPAA has to do with security. There are ways to ensure the HIPAA guidelines are met and exceeded, while offering the conveniences of the Internet.

I was fortunate enough to work for a world renowned U.S. based healthcare institution. For nine years I learned how automation can benefit a practice as well as the patients. For 5 years, I was also deeply involved in what was a bleeding edge project to take the process of referring patients and exchanging medical information to the Internet. I know it is possible. I’ve seen it work and I’ve seen it work very well.

Healthcare take note.. You are missing the boat.