How Can You Increase Patient Volume in Your Gastroenterology ASC?
Gastroenterologist Dr. Arnold G. Levy shares what he’s found from his 40+ years of experience and how gastroenterology software helps play a crucial role.
Increasing patient volume can usually lead to increased revenue. But how do you successfully increase the number of patients and procedures without jeopardizing patient care and experience or without adding more responsibilities and work to your staff’s already packed schedules?
An integral part of the solution involves the right combination of gastroenterology software in order to help increase efficiencies in your ASC operations. Such software should be gastroenterology-specific, with your endoscopy report writer in your ASC, with your electronic health record system in your practice, and with your practice management (PM) system ideally all on the same platform. Data and reports can then flow back and forth seamlessly and quickly, helping to improve operational efficiencies and allowing you to handle increased volume.
Of course, other factors are also important in building patient volume, and these factors include such things as building/joining referral networks, adding more types of procedures, generating positive press in your community, growing your presence both locally and regionally, and utilizing various marketing tactics. However, in my opinion, solid technology is step number one and is what this post will focus upon.
Let’s start with three foundational questions to ask yourself. First, what gastroenterology ERW software do you currently have in place at your ASC? Second, does it integrate with the gastroenterology EHR software in your practice? And third, do both your software products integrate seamlessly with your practice management (PM) software system?
If you answered “no” to the second or third questions, it may be time to seek a new gastroenterology software solution at your ASC. The ability to use a endoscopy report writer (ERW) that integrates directly with your clinic’s electronic health record (EHR) system and your gastroenterology practice management (PM) software is the ideal scenario. Why?
Fully integrated GI software helps streamline both clinical and business operations, thereby improving the transfer of data resulting in more efficient clinical and business processes. Excessive clicks are eliminated as data flows seamlessly across all systems (EHR, ERW, PM), saving time for the physicians and time for their support staff. Time saved translates to increased capacity to see patients, and therefore higher patient numbers.
When researching alternative solutions, you should ask about what features the endoscopy report writer offers, such as workflows to produce clinical reports quicker (e.g. Quick Notes) and integrated nursing and anesthesia notes.
Find out about the availability of cloud deployment, as this too can help save time and money when compared to the manual updates and maintenance of your own hosted server farm.
Learn about the ease of use and training. Will the same workflow apply regardless of the care setting? What tools will you have at your disposal to access information, such as your schedule and patient data, when away from the office (such as mobile devices)? What training and support will be provided by the vendor you choose? Choose wisely and carefully.
Overall, an integrated gastroenterology software system with ERW, EHR and PM systems should help provide access to consistent information regardless of the care setting. At the same time, it can eliminate time wasted flipping between separate systems or having to access the information solely from a computer in the office. Once again, having such an interoperable system can give you time back in your day to see and treat more patients.
Next up, and more into the “weeds” of your endoscopy report writer (ERW) software: is it, in of itself, user-friendly, helping you make the most out of your time for each procedure?
Many endoscopy report writer (ERW) systems on the market today take the “ribbon approach” that requires physicians to navigate through their report by clicking on one polyp at a time to see the images. Such ERWs can prove quite cumbersome and slow. However, some ERWs can show all the polyps on a single screen simultaneously, and the images automatically integrate into the report with polyp locations and suggested ICD-10 codes built in. This helps eliminate data reentry and errors, resulting in better use of your time and an overall better user and patient experience.
Your ERW software should be capable of monitoring each physician’s adenoma detection rate (ADR) which not only helps physicians assess their own clinical skills but also helps them improve where necessary. This factors into the ultimate goal of improved patient care, while also improving clinical efficiency. Such data can be benchmarked both within one’s own practice and also on a national level.
What type of gastroenterology software does your ASC staff use to manage scheduling, billing and administrative tasks? And does it help them make the most of their time?
We have already mentioned the business aspect of practice efficiency and the importance of having the an integrated practice management system. Providing such support to your staff is so very important to conducting efficient ASC and practice operations. If staff must log in and out of different systems, or manage cumbersome spreadsheets, or call your main office to get needed information, they will be wasting valuable time, impeding (not their fault) patient flow, and lowering physician productivity.
If you utilize an integrated gastroenterology practice management system, staff can more easily and more quickly access the information they need when they need it. A gastroenterology practice management system that integrates with your ERW and EHR systems will help both improve office flow and enhance the patient experience. Putting such a system in place can help your staff become more effective when it comes to office communications. It can also provide access to automated insurance eligibility and claim scrubbing, which will help speed up the ASC billing process. Plus, for the patient, your staff can create payment plans to provide flexibility and convenience that can enhance their overall patient experience.
Now, what about your quality reporting tools? What kind of information does your ERW and EHR systems capture?
With the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), making the most out of your ASC quality measures can be crucial to your success. With integrated gastroenterology ERW software and office EHR software, you can capture detailed metrics from the endo center and automatically have them sent back to your office. This helps minimize the stress and time of doing this without technology in place, again saving you time to invest in other initiatives focused on increasing patient numbers. Also, a platform with a built-in MIPS dashboard will help you capture data at the point of care, making it faster and simpler to capture such vital information for reimbursement and not take time away from your day.
This brings us to the next topic: key performance indicators (KPI) and what type of gastroenterology software can help inform you on the clinical, operational and financial aspects of your practice.
If you can streamline data collection and analyze your ASC’s performance visually, you’ll find areas in which you excel as well as possible areas needing improvement. You should investigate gastroenterology software that can go beyond superficial data to uncover actionable insights into performance. For example, uncovering trends in the following categories can help you unlock areas of opportunity.
- Your Referring Physician Population: Who sends the most patients and what are their referral trends? Whose patients are the most frequent no-shows? Is there any relationship to referral patterns and the patient’s insurance coverage or participating network for the physician or the patient? Access to this type of information can you help better work with referring providers by identifying the factors that influence referral numbers and finding ways where possible to positively influence those factors.
- Your Staff: Who schedules the most appointments for screening colonoscopies? Is there a difference in same-day cancel rate depending on the scheduler? By looking at this, you can find out which staff members are performing efficiently and communicating effectively to your patients.
- Your Providers: What is the average task completion time? Does the endo room turnaround time vary by provider? This comes down to making the most out of every minute. The time you save can equate to more endoscopies and increased patient volume.
If you use a pen and paper or a simple Excel sheet to track such information, odds are that you’re wasting valuable time. I highly encourage you to research a vendor who provides a robust analytics platform that will integrate directly with your endo report writer system and your office EHR.
What gastroenterology software do you currently have in place to elevate the patient experience and to engage them in their own healthcare?
Without patients, you won’t have a business. Their experience with your practice plays a critical role in your success. Regardless of the location of treatment, high-quality care focused directly on the patient’s needs can make or break their experience. From the moment a patient walks in the door of the ASC to the time they pay their bill, each touchpoint should be optimized while keeping the patient in mind.
With the proliferation of online review sites and social media, one poor patient experience can negatively impact your reputation as a gastroenterologist. You want to do what you can to elevate the patient experience and differentiate yourself from the competition. This is where patient engagement tools can help. What characteristics do the following solutions all have in common? Convenience for the patient and time-savings for you.
A tablet-based kiosk solution, rather than paper forms on a clipboard, can help when it comes to check-in and checkout/discharge processes and should integrate with your other gastroenterology software solutions. It can give the patient the ability to fill out and sign consent forms, and to provide demographics and insurance information. Such a tool demonstrates to patients that you are on the cutting edge of technology and healthcare. Plus, it helps your staff speed up the check-in and checkout/discharge processes by eliminating excessive and error-prone data entry.
You also want to keep your patients both safe and engaged, even when they aren’t receiving treatment. Portals help enable patients to adjust upcoming appointments, send private messages, request refills, review and update records, and view lab results. In addition, an online portal often enables patients to pay online, which can make collections simpler and friendlier for staff and patients alike, adding to their positive experience.
How about no-shows? They can definitely have a negative impact your patient volume. Instituting an automated patient reminder service makes it easy for patients to make changes to appointments without negatively impacting your staff’s workload. The result? Your staff will spend less time calling and more time engaging patients. At the same time, it can help reduce patient no-shows and cancellations, helping you keep your schedule full.
Patient education should be part of the full patient experience as well. For example, some gastroenterology software will give the option to print an endoscopy report which contains the actual images of their endoscopy – a useful tool when discussing results and explaining findings. You can easily share the report with the patient, and they can share it with family and their primary care provider as well. This makes for a stronger patient encounter and a better lasting impression.
As I noted earlier, online reviews can do both harm and good for you as a provider and for your business. Utilizing an automated reputation management and visit survey will enable you to collect and display positive reviews. It also gives you the opportunity to address and adjust accordingly if a negative experience gets shared. It provides actionable patient feedback that helps you improve your business and makes your patients feel heard. Positive word of mouth is priceless.
So what’s the common denominator to helping increase ASC patient volume?
At the core, it’s utilizing and maximizing gastroenterology software and technology. From your ERW, to your gastroenterology EHR system, your PM system, analytics and patient engagement tools, you should seek out and work with a health IT vendor that provides all of these software products in a comprehensive and all-in-one package. In addition, look for a vendor that has a track record of committed product support services. This can help you add efficiency and maximize your resources, providing you the time to treat more patients.
How Can Modernizing Medicine® Gastroenterology (formerly gMed®) Help You and Your Entire Practice?
If you truly want a cohesive solution to help connect your ASC and your office, our gGastro® suite of products is indeed your answer. When combining the gGastro ERW software product, with the fully integrated EHR, PM, analytics, and patient engagement solutions, you can seamlessly connect your ASC and office, which will help you reduce duplicate entries, streamline operations and see more patients.
Arnold G. Levy, MD
Dr. Arnold Levy’s medical career spans 40 years, beginning in Montgomery County, Maryland, in 1977. In that time, he has cared for patients with a wide range of digestive disorders, performed thousands of endoscopic procedures devoted his time to advancing digestive health care as a member of the National Digestive Diseases Advisory Board and the Board of the National Digestive Disease Information Clearing House and as the immediate past President of the Maryland Patient Care and Access Coalition. He also maintains an academic appointment as an Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.
In 2006 as the healthcare provider environment was growing more complex, Dr. Levy joined forces with colleagues across the Washington Metropolitan area to lead discussions on how to address the challenges in their industry. In 2009 Capital Digestive Care was formed through the merger of seven diverse private practices and Dr. Levy was elected President and CEO where he served until 2017.
Dr. Levy obtained his BA in 1968 and MD in 1971 both with distinction and both from The George Washington University, in Washington, DC.