More and more clinics providing primary and secondary healthcare services are switching from paper diaries to online diary solutions.
As any clinician will know, there’s far more to managing a diary than just answering calls and filling appointment gaps, and online diaries are quickly becoming the most efficient, practical option for clinics worldwide.
In today’s complex practice environment, the tools clinicians and clinical staff use have become smarter and more intuitive, making clinics run more smoothly, putting them in a better position to deliver a higher standard of service and care to their patients.
If you’re still using a paper diary, you need to stop and ask yourself why. We’ve outlined eight big reasons for switching from a paper-based diary to an online alternative.
1. Solve diary synchronisation problems
Each day, clinicians book and see multiple patients, any of whom may choose to cancel or reschedule their appointments. Such schedule changes happen frequently. But synchronising paper diaries is confusing, error prone and time consuming.
An online diary solves the problem because multiple users can share information, view live appointments, and make alterations that others can view in real time. If a change is made in the office, an out-of-office clinician can access the diary from any location and view the change instantly. For practice teams working across offices, countries or even time zones, working together is easier.
2. Improve patient management
An online diary comes with a database where the user can record and access patient information quickly and easily. This means that the booking process is faster for patients because, as the user enters patient details into the diary, the system automatically populates empty fields with existing customer information.
The user can access all patients’ or third-party organisations’ details from one screen. Information is presented in a single page, so when clinicians are speaking to patients, they can see if a new appointment needs to be made or a payment is outstanding. Full encryption and backup, which is available in online diary systems, keeps patient records secure.
3. Easily manage external communications
A clinic can assign any number of third-party contacts, such as GPs, insurance companies, solicitors and hospital consultants, to its online diary. These details are instantly accessible for the purposes of billing, letters, e-mails and other correspondence.
Professional-looking communications are easier and faster to produce because the diary offers templates for emails and Word documents. And every time one of these documents is created and sent, it’s automatically added to a patient’s or organisation’s record, enabling more efficient record keeping and saving the clinic time and printing costs.
4. Ease the clinical practitioner’s day
An online diary records all patient information in one place. Practitioners can access notes and appointment records and add new appointments on a single screen. They can view their up-to-date schedules and easily plan their working days.
Different systems offer specialist features designed to meet the needs of clinical practices. PPS, for example, has a Treatment Episodes feature, which manages episodes of care from initial referral through to discharge, and enables the clinical professional to quickly record diagnosis details and outcomes. Practitioners can set limits on cost or number of consultations and set treatment milestones. They can design custom assessment forms to reduce typing and incorporate body charts, diagrams, pictures or x-rays with patient records.
5. Improve marketing communications and grow revenue
Online diaries can automatically send recall notices to patients who are due for an appointment, saving administration time and helping the clinic to generate a regular flow of patients and boost income.
Data stored online can be used by clinics for marketing campaigns. For example, clinicians might choose to group data according to which patients are due for an appointment, which patients use specific services, and which patients are within a certain age group. This helps them to better target their marketing activity or customise client preferences, such as how patients like to receive information.
6. Simplify your appointments and bookings process
With its simple drag-and-drop features and support for cut and paste, the online diary is extremely easy to use, displaying available free appointments at a glance. It helps clinicians or their receptionists to reduce the number of ‘no shows’ through SMS appointment reminders which are easy to send.
Users can view schedule activity, such as the clinic’s calendar, in different ways such as by day and by week. They can also colour code appointments to make schedules easier to read.
7. Reduce manual accounting tasks
Patients can book and pay for appointments online without the need for administrative support. Meanwhile, clinics can profile appointment fees using a comprehensive income module which automatically displays the fee as each booking is made. Within the module, the user can manage tasks such as raising an invoice, taking a payment, raising patient credit notes, or printing invoices and receipts. The system also manages third-party invoices, and records expenses and detailed audit trails. It can even link to PayPal to eliminate merchant fees for payments.
8. Generate detailed reports for informed decision making
An online diary enables the user to run detailed reports which can be used to support more informed business decisions. With these customisable reports, clinicians or other users can analyse a clinic’s income or view customer invoicing details. They can view reports on open patient cases and medical conditions, they can break down appointments by practitioner or referrer, run detailed stock reports and analyse audit logs.
There are many different online diary systems available for today’s clinicians, each with individual features that suit different types of business. These diary solutions, which include PracticePal, PPS, ClinicOffice, Quinec, and BookingBug, can be customised to meet the needs of your practice and help clinicians and staff work together and with patients far more effectively.
If you don’t use an online diary, you might be surprised to learn that set-up is easy. We’ve helped many clinics make the move – quickly. It’s simple and the rewards are numerous. We provide telephone answering and diary management services which has given us great insight to all of these diary systems. One thing they all have in common – they save time and improve efficiency.
For more information on telephone answering services for your clinic, or moving from a paper diary to an online diary, MyRuby can help. Please contact us on 0800 988 0977.