Where have all the patients gone?

Where have all the patients gone?

As the Wall Street Journal, and others have recently reported, Americans appear to be using fewer medical services this year. Is it the economy? Are we seeing less infectious illnesses? Are patients going elsewhere, such as retail-based clinics? It is likely a combination of factors, but many of us need to maintain economic viability in the face of this trend.

As many colleagues are staring at unfilled appointment slots in their patient calendars and worried about their bottom line, I am comforted by the capabilities of my EHR. When I began to see a few unfilled appointments, I had my staff run a query for patients who are overdue for well visits. The slots got filled quickly. Similarly, patients with chronic diseases (asthma, for example) can be recalled and brought in to fill gaps in a unanticipated light week.

Real-time insurance eligibility verification integrated into the EHR makes sure that I have the most current available information on file. We all know that it is infinitely better to bill to the correct insurance company the first time, then to try and clean up billing errors after a visit has occurred. As more patients are moving to insurances with co-insurances instead of co-pays, swiping a credit card to have on file, reduces the risk of not collecting for a visit. The ability to see family balances and the ability to pay outstanding balances on line, maximizes opportunities to capture timely payment.

In these uncertain economic times, having an integrated EHR/PMS solution can be the difference between barely meeting payroll and giving bonuses.