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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Automate, Automate, Automate

Automation is key, I've come to realize. Automation makes things go better. It allows for the staff and management to concentrate on things that require a human brain, such as judgment calls. At first glance, it may appear that a medical practice is not a great fit for automation. Certainly an auto plant lends itself better to robotic processes, but if you re-analyze your own medical practice, you can find processes that can be automated, and can thus become mindless and effortless. Here are some things that can, and should be automated.
  • Data entry: Forms can be scanned with an OCR reader and the data can be extracted and imported into PM software, all with a key stroke.
  • Communications management: Macro software exists that can reduce complex, redundant tasks to a simple mouse click. Items that come to my mind in this category are call forwarding, voice mail retrieval, and fax management.
  • Document management: This is where an EMR really helps, but even without one the process itself can be automated, only the robot must be a person.
  • Laboratory services: automated lab analyzers exist and are reasonably priced for good ROI. These devices can be run be someone with only a high school degree.
  • History taking: forms, whether they are digital or paper, can assist in data capture that is consistent, accurate, and efficient. Patients can complete the forms themselves or with assistance from doctor or staff. Forms can be automatically imported into the EMR with a simple mouse click.
  • Back-up: of course
  • Billing: charge codes (ICD-9 and CPT) can be captured directly from the digital encounter form and can then be exported automatically into the PM software to be submitted electronically and effortlessly to the clearance house.
  • Bill pay and EOB-check depositing are all ripe processes for automation.
  • Payroll, a no brainer
  • Savings: automated, continuous forced savings. Slow and steady wins the race.
And probably others.
Thanks for listening,
The IU.