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Is Your Head in the Clouds? Well Your Practice Should be in “The Cloud”!

Is Your Head in the Clouds? Well Your Practice Should be in “The Cloud”!

 

How cloud-based EHR & automated practice management will transform your office, save you time, and money.

 

By Adam Stelzer, O.D.

 

If you want to become a better optometrist, you should be using an EHR/practice management system in an effort to streamline your practice and optimize patient care. However, the key is getting the right system because you may risk setting yourself up for extra work, lost data, and even compromising patient information.

 

For years, optometrists have dealt with these frustrations. That’s why it is important to find an EHR/practice management system that is built by developers who understand the direct needs of their fellow colleagues. For optometry, there are solutions available that were built by optometrists, specifically for optometry. These solutions are better formatted for the flow of an eye exam, with short cuts to simplify common norms and medical reference databases, as well as auto-fills to quickly complete common procedures, impressions, and plans. There are even systems that integrate with labs, so you can order contact trials during an exam with the click of one button. You can trust that optometrists have a first-hand understanding about what tools would help streamline an eye exam and allow attention to be given to the patient, rather than data entry.

 

With such rapid advances in technology, we can all see that “the cloud” is extremely useful today and will be indispensable in the future. Soon enough, we’ll find that it will be utilized in every facet of life for securely warehousing all of our data.

 

A major benefit to a cloud-based system is that you greatly reduce the security risk that a local server system inherently has; where information can be stolen, damaged, or corrupted by it’s need for physical storage space. With a high quality cloud-based EHR/practice management system, your information is encrypted, so it cannot be stolen or compromised. It is virtually backed up, so the risk of losing data is greatly reduced. It is also accessible instantaneously from any location in the world. This allows the doctor to complete charts or access reports at any time. Your system needs to be fully secured and HIPPA-compliant.

 

The cloud doesn’t limit you to a room in your office, where you likely have limited storage capacity. Even if you previously saw a patient and charted their exam on paper, you should be able to scan and upload those charts into a cloud-based system. In a system with unlimited storage capacity they’ll be stored within that patient’s profile indefinitely. All of your past and current patients’ records are available to you conveniently within one system, even if they are at a different office location within your practice group. This eliminates the need for paper, boxes, storage, and makes it so much quicker to access.

 

Patients are now looking for health care providers that give them easier access to scheduling appointments online, getting appointment reminders via text messaging, the ability to complete paperwork in advance (eliminating time in the waiting area), as well as the ability to access their data online, and at any time. A modern system can offer a unique link to an online scheduling feature, with the ability to customize available appointment time slots and intervals between appointments, and integrate directly into your office schedule. Some cloud-based EHR/practice management systems can give patients access to a private portal where they can fill out their paperwork and medical history, which can significantly reduce patient check-in times. The patient can even access their prescriptions, invoices, and referrals after their appointment through their portal. This feature gives you and your staff back invaluable time to focus on more important things, such as patient care.

 

One of the biggest cost and time savings is from an integrated patient text messaging feature. You should look for a system that is fully comprehensive, so you can eliminate the high-cost third-party SMS services. With that feature included, it’s as if you’re hiring another staff member to do all of your patient recalls, but at no additional cost. You’ll want to find a system that gives you unlimited text messaging and two-way patient communication that can be done right from within the system. A great system will allow you to maintain and keep unique communication contacts and securely e-Fax them from within the system. This allows you to easily manage your patient information sharing; with pharmacies via e-Prescribing, other health-care professionals via patient referrals, with labs for optical material orders, and with third-party payers and clearinghouses for billing. Communication should be simple and automatically recorded under the patient’s profile.

 

Another major benefit to an EHR/practice management system is the ability to track analytics and generate reports. It is important to consider the analytics feature of a system not just as an “extra”, but as a powerful and necessary tool to help you track the statistics about your practice. These reports can show you the growth of your practice, in number of patients and sales volume, and even help target specific markets, products, or clients. You can also use the reporting to correct mismanagement and check the performance of staff, or even certain inventory items and products. It’s important to get daily summary reports, and a good system will allow you to create customized reports when you want them.

 

If you are not using a cloud-based EMR/practice management system, you need to reconsider your reasoning for not jumping on board. There are systems that are robust, completely customizable, and inclusive of all of the aforementioned must-haves, for as low as $99 per month. Explore your options, and be sure to recognize when a system is over-priced. Many times, you’re just paying for the markup and hidden fees of outdated systems, where those unnecessary costs are pushed onto you, the practice owner. There are great systems that offer new state-of–the-art platform designs with no contracts, no sign-up fees, no charges for updates. A select few will even give you and your staff training, as well as directly assist you in getting your data transferred from another system, at no additional charge. Take the few minutes to do a free demonstration to see how a system can fit your needs. With the right EHR/practice management solution, you can trust that you’ll find yourself less stressed with a more streamlined and efficient optometry practice – at least, it did for me!

 
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“Alexa, How can Amazon Disrupt the Eye Care Industry?”

Amazon has come a long way since 1998 when it was simply an online book store. It has continued to innovate and challenge competitors to evolve and adapt or simply be left behind. Amazon Prime membership has 85 million members and e-commerce sales are more than triple compared to other competitors online. With the recent $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods and approval for pharmacy licenses could change the future of healthcare.  Amazon has the data, infrastructure and innovation to change the pharmacy industry and possibly the eye care industry as well. Here are some ways that Amazon could alter the industry.

 

Telemedicine

Amazon has the platform to develop a telemedicine app to connect customers to pharmacists and doctors. Browsing Amazon’s website and don’t know which contact lens solutions or artificial tears to pick? Simply click on the feature to talk to a virtual provider to help with your selection via the telemedicine app. The health care apps can be used to book doctor’s appointments and even pay for your visit. The app would be customer- centric and convenient and could synchronize with the Warby Parker’s refraction app to enable patients to get glasses.  Consider the information that the app could provide to patients with pre-exiting conditions and direct them to local Amazon location or other company partners.  The virtual doctor could review a health care product or condition that a patient is searching on the website to finalize the sale or prescribe a medication and be delivered by Amazon Prime Now service by an Uber driver.

 

Innovative Technology

 

Imagine using Echo to direct you to a virtual doctor that can answer your questions on over the counter products or prescribe a treatment plan without leaving the house? The system could potentially connect the patient via telemedicine to treat the patient and could pick up the medication at a Whole Foods pharmacy. Echo would be able to provide treatment plans with over the counter products.  A treatment plan could possibly come up on the amazon app and with 1 click put in the product in the cart or either delivered within 2 days to your home or picked up at a Whole Foods kiosk. Not only that, but it would offer great personalization. Amazon is known to produce options based on an individual shopper’s purchase history. Amazon consistently sends emails asking about reviews on their products which would only help them grow their online eye care industry. When pairing this with a patient’s medical history it might become easier for them to refer a patient more detailed eye-exams in-office if they deem them necessary to partnered brick and mortar locations.

Big companies and small businesses could use Echo as a personal assistant to streamline business processes and answer frequently asked questions. For example, it can provide an overview of daily schedule, outstanding balances as well as HR information to let corporate know when a Doctor takes a day off or is out sick and relate the info to daily sales goals. Sales data could be given by Alexa. Data on per hour production can be evaluated and compared to others in the region and industry to set strategic plans and company standards to improve sales and efficiency.  It can also order new supplies and report inventory levels.

 

“Vuzix Corp. will show off a pair of smart glasses that can talk to Amazon.com Inc.’s voice-activated digital assistant and display information to the wearer’s field of view”. This technology can help patients that need low vision devices. It can superimpose text messages and display information that the patient needs to see.

Vuzix Blade glasses  Source: Vuzix Corp.

 

Electronic medical records

Amazon has the potential and resources to build its own electronic medical records system, and they might be working on this as we speak. The medical records could be accessed through the Amazon app. If successful, patients would want to have their records from their doctors’ offices into one system where any health care provider could download pertinent medical history and other information.  Amazon would have access to the electronic records to be able to target patients for other health care services or products.

Amazon web services can pull data from current electronic medical records. If Amazon has access to medical records they can run algorithms to identify similarities and target potential patients with a Doctor onsite or video conference. Consider how this service could transform your business with sophisticated data mining abilities.  It can help strengthen the net profit, optical strategy and understand more about the patient demographics of that office. By having this data, it can provide data that researchers can use to find treatments for diseases or prevalence of getting a disease. It can audit your patient records to detect potential fraud. This feature could be utilized by insurance companies to detect fraud and retrieve unnecessary fees from providers and hospitals.

 

Amazon Business for EyeCare Professionals

Amazon Business started in 2015 and has become a 1-billion-dollar business. Through Amazon Business Eye Care professionals can purchase products at an affordable price and skip many vendors. Small equipment for the office through Amazon Business and even selection of frames at deep discounts for your optical. Need Tropicamide a new near point card or new CMS 1500 forms? Order it through Amazon Business for Eye Care Professionals. Use their service and become an affiliate by referring patient to get artificial tears and other over the counter products for eye care. For business owners to get products quickly another brick and mortar purchase might be in the future for Amazon, possibly  BJs Wholesale Club to be able to compete with Walmart at the store level and provide convenience to the business owner if a product is needed immediately and use the warehouses as storage for inventory. It would also add Gas Stations to its portfolio that requires a brick and mortar location.   According to Business Insider , there as been speculation that Amazon is interested in acquiring Target .

How would Amazon enter the Eye Care Industry?

Amazon could possibly purchase Warby Parker or 1800 Contacts. They both developed a strong online brands with great income potential and have the database that is required to incorporate Amazon’s innovative technology.  Warby Parker has a strong millennial following and growing. They both would have the infrastructure that Amazon would need to successfully enter the industry. Amazon’s presence into the eye care industry would likely increase the speed of online optical delivery or it can have an integrated system that combines online with  the Whole Foods store. Even without a purchase, Amazon has the ability to open optical locations in Whole Foods and expand services online.