By Ryan C. Wineinger, OD
Electronic health records allow you to personalize an eye health exam by collecting and easily accessing information unique to each patient—provided that you and your staff follow an input/output system. Here’s a plan to do that.
When we reserve a room at a hotel chain where we have stayed before, the reservation system recognizes that we prefer a non-smoking room with a king-sized bed and extra pillows. Or when we orderclothing online, a system recalls our size, delivery address and credit card information, saving us time and effort.We should offer this same level of personalized service to patients in our practice.
Personalized Patient Information Capture:
How It Works
There are at least two places where personal information such as past eyeglasses remakes and preferred appointment times typically get captured in Dr. Wineinger’s OfficeMate ExamWRITER software. No special set-up or configuration is necessary. The capacity to capture patient personal preferences is already built into the technology.
There is an “alert” section for specifics regarding a patient. For example, a staff member could enter notes as simple as “likes Tuesday appointments.”
In addition, there are internal marketing fields that also can be used to identify certain preferences and also can be sorted. For example, “Patient likes one-day replacement contact lenses.” In this case, a staff member can also search for all patients who like one-day contact lenses.
To make it easy for staff to accommodate patients’ scheduling preferences, the software’s “scheduler” lets a provider search for available appointments not only by day but also by “day part.” If the patient only wants evening appointments or only Tuesday evening appointments, the scheduler can be searched accordingly.
Source: Mark Bruskin, senior vice-president, Sales, Eyefinity.
If you have an EHR system in place, you already have the capacity to make that happen. It’s just a matter of maximizing use of your system–and ensuring that you and your staff follow protocols to capture and retrieve patient informationto personalizethe care you deliver.
With electronic health record systems, we easily can track everything from patient exam room preferences to why a pair of eyewear needed to be remade. My office uses OfficeMate ExamWRITER to its fullest extent to better our patients’ experience. Our software allows us to capture patient preferences, then combine that with doctor recommendations to communicate back to staff a complete package of what will benefit the patient.
Customize Information Capture
An EHR can be customized in a number of areas to capture information about specific preferences patients have. This can range from specific orders for the patient, (e.g., Do not dilate, Patient doesn’t like air puff) to specific products. Products can be based on patient lifestyle questionnaires sent via e-mail or in office forms. A few examples that could come from those forms: tinted daily contact lenses, specific sport play that necessitates certain products, or extensive computer/near work. This information is then input to the EHR.
Tag Each Individual Procedure
We label each individual patient procedure. For example, on a contact lens follow up, we have specific procedures for the type of contact lens follow-up it was. Even though there is no charge for those follow-ups, by tagging those visits with a specific procedure we can use the Patient Information Center area of the EHR to quickly get a snapshot of what we saw the patient for over the last year. I can then take that information and drill down to what specific lenses we tried. Another example is a procedure code for medication refills. We can then take a quick look at the Patient Information Center and see that we refilled medications for a patient a certain number of times throughout the year. The Patient Information Center is a great tool to utilize, and when you document everything about the patient, it gives a helpful snapshot of what went on in the last year or over a series of years with an individual patient.
Use Captured Information to Guide Optical Shop Sales
A good example of a way you can use the system to communicate with staff is in the Spectacle Rx area of our EHR. Within our EHR, certain features for a patient’s eyeglasses that were discussed in the exam room can be recorded and communicated to the staff ordering window. So, if a doctor discussed a high-end lens with all the bells and whistles, that information can be entered into the EHR and automatically get communicated to staff when the patient goes into the dispensary for their eyeglasses fitting. This drastically helps the staff with their optical sales because they have a way to know exactly the products the doctor discussed with the patient, and when they reference the doctor’s conversation regarding these products during the sales pitch, the acceptance (capture) rate of higher-end products increases.
Action Plan: How to Utilize EHR to Deliver Personalized Care
Train staff to enter personalized information at the end of each patient interaction. Practice this with simulated cases prior to launching the system.
Train staff to mine personalized information. This starts with a process to capture the additional lifestyle information up front by any of the following: an e-mail form, in-office form or face-to-face communication. Then enter that information in a way that can be easily viewed by those who need it. For example, this information can be inputted into an EHR’s notes section, and you also can use an EHR’s communication tools to share with the dispensary products that are unique to patients based on their vision needs and lifestyle.
Don’t try to do everything at once. Our office has been using an EHR for 10 years, and we still make changes to our office protocols. As technologies continue to change, processes continue to change. Take small steps in any process changes you make and ensure each step of that process is complete before moving onto the next. For example, if your office is capturing patient preferences, but then not inputting them into the EHR, the doctor doesn’t have that information to communicate to the patient. This leaves patients feeling like they went through that process of answering lifestyle questions for no benefit to them. Nothing is more irritating to patients than going through an exercise of futility! If you take down patient preferences, be sure to also input them into your EHR and access the preferences to let patients know you are optimizing the information they gave you.