You go to your doctor’s office, sit in the waiting room and wait for your name to be called. Then you go in the back, get weighed -groan- and have your vital statistics recorded. Then it’s on to the exam room to be seen by your doctor for whatever reason you’re there to visit. It seems simple, right? Cut and dried, in and out. However, there are lots of things the non-medical community doesn’t realize go on behind the scenes.
We’re not talking just about patient scheduling. That’s something of which you’re aware because you’re the patient. One of the problems that can trip up so many physician’s offices, clinics, hospitals and urgent care centers is the scheduling of needed personnel. A medical practice isn’t like an auto body shop. While patients and car repairs are both scheduled, there are a lot more emergencies that go on with medicine than with bumper dents. A medical practice, no matter what kind, can easily get swamped if they don’t have enough staff to cover emergencies. The flip side is true, too. It’s not cost effective or good for morale to have medical staff standing around because there’s not enough to do. That’s where a good infusion center scheduling system comes in.
An infusion center scheduling system tracks the trends in any medical office to help predict when staffing needs will be most critical. It also helps schedule patients so they’re seen at optimum times for their needs. What that means is that when a patient who has prescription renewals needing to be filled makes an appointment, the scheduling system will automatically queue the medical office personnel to steer the patient towards an appointment during hours when their pharmacy is open. This allows for better medical care as the patient can go straight from the doctor to their pharmacy to pick up their prescriptions.
Another crucial area for medical practices is the requirement for accurate documentation. An erroneously documented diagnosis can create havoc for the patient, their doctors and their insurance company. In the past, poor handwriting contributed to this problem. Now, many medical practices have gone digital. This creates its own set of problems. When medical personnel haven’t been properly trained or sometimes when they’re rushed, data can be input into the system wrong. Wrong documentation can lead to a missed diagnosis. For the patient, that can be life threatening at worst, a fight with the insurance companies at best.
Sometimes the digital systems themselves are the culprit. If a doctor’s office uses a system with which the insurance companies’ systems don’t communicate effectively, then the codes used by the doctor may not match up with the insurance companies’ system. This leads to the insurance company denying claims and preventing both follow-up care and referrals to specialists. It gets even more convoluted if a patient has more than one doctor and their systems don’t align.
Remember the jars of wooden tongue depressors and cotton balls in your pediatrician’s office when you were a kid? While we don’t see those much anymore, there are still loads of supplies any medical practice needs. Doctors and nurses both still use stethoscopes. There are blood pressure cuffs, thermometers and scales that see daily use and frequently have to be replaced due to wear and tear. Medical practices also need to stay abreast of the latest in available equipment and ensure the staff is all trained to use it properly. Then there are all the paper products, adhesive bandages, disposable equipment covers and sterile needles for injections that every practice needs.
Understanding the behind-the-scenes action in our local medical practices may help us to be a little more patient when we’re sitting in the waiting room.