Snow Days in a Connected World

Snow Days in a Connected World

It’s a “snow day” today.  Schools are closed and traveling is hazardous.  As I sit here in my living room canceling patient hours due to the winter weather, I started to reflect on how much different things are in my pediatric practice today now that we are living in the connected world. Twenty years ago, a snow day was a nightmare for logistical and business reasons. Today, I feel significantly less stressed.


Let’s start with the office staff.  Texting started early this morning as schools were closed and the snow began to fall. Key staff with close proximity to the office came in early to assess the roads and handle phone messages. When two staff members had near-miss collisions, we decided that in order to keep our patients safe, we would start cancelling the day’s appointments.


I quickly added some additional well visit time slots for later this week, so the staff would have somewhere to add appointments (I love the new OP scheduling slot feature which makes this task so incredibly easy to do). Patients were contacted by phone and text and moved accordingly. It certainly helps to have access to multiple phone numbers, email address and diverse ways to contact families. And if need be, this could have all been done from home. (I do not miss paper and that old appointment book at the front desk at all!)


Our website was quickly updated to inform those who visit the site that our office will be closed due to inclement weather, and the Patient Message Exchange was used to send a blast to all of our patients. Hmmm, I should be tweeting this, but haven’t got my twitter feed up to speed yet. Facebook pages are a great place to post information like this as well.


My biller will be working our A/R remotely from her kitchen (thank you Remote Desktop). My care coordinators will be contacting families (it’s a great time to catch parents since they’re stuck home with the kids). My recall coordinator will be making sure that all of our patients who need a well visit by the end of the year for P4P bonuses are scheduled and reminded. I’m taking calls from my living room and ePrescribing remotely, made appointments for tomorrow, looked at patient information via the mobile app to give appropriate medical advice, and document the phone calls.


Is there always lost revenue from cancelling appointments? Sure.  Some of it is unavoidable. Some of those sick kids will get better and never come in.  But having the ability to quickly reschedule visits and open up additional sick time for early tomorrow morning , will minimize the am
ount of patient visits completely lost. And my staff is working on higher value tasks from home.


In the meantime, I made myself an extra cup of coffee, put on my yoga pants and am working on my NCQA Patient Centered Medical Home documentation…which continues to improve my revenue from one of my major payers.  It just goes to show, snow days aren’t just for kids!