Better efficiency in any O&P office is about manipulating available technologies and making them work for you, according to Jonathan Naft, CPO, president of Geauga Rehabilitation Engineering and an O&P Business News Practitioner Advisory Council member.
Technological considerations start at what patients, doctors, insurance companies and competitors see without even walking into your facility — on the company Web site.
“Ideally, I started to put myself in my patients’ shoes,” Naft said during his presentation at the American Orthotic and Prosthetic Association National Assembly. “What is it that they want to know when they come into my office?”
Naft also addressed the use of online patient registration as a way to save money and man hours as well as cut down on data errors that can often lead to denials in payment. The use of an in-office patient registration kiosk was also suggested as a cost-saving measure for practitioners’ offices.
“This boils down to time, accuracy and money,” he said. “When a patient registers on paper, one of the staff will need to enter the data into the digital file. Often, the handwritten information is not complete or [is] unreadable. By having a Web registration, the software will ensure all fields are entered, not to mention readable.”
Naft stressed the time factor as well. For example, assume it takes 7 minutes for a staff member to enter handwritten information into your system and multiply that by how many times that staff member performs that task,
“You will be surprised to see that task worth $6,000 to $7,000 per year.”
Paperless filing and electronic scheduling were also among Naft’s recommendations for assistance in administrative and clinical processes.
“Prior to our current methods, we utilized video cameras, digital cameras, PDAs and [computers] to improve efficiency. We were able to put most of our functions on our cell phones, including our patient management software. This improved our operations since the functions become readily available,” he said. “We no longer need to find the camera, and then take the time to upload files separately. While in the room, we can enter codes on our phones, and capture the picture/video, and save it to the patient’s file with ease, all on our hand held device.”
Still the most exciting factor to Naft is the improvement in accuracy when using newer technologies.
“Practitioners, technicians and office staff all rely on each other to ensure the proper transfer of information to … complete a clean file. When one part of the file is incomplete, the end result will affect the patient. When the communication is efficient, everyone’s job duties work smoother and easier.”
As for the cost in implementing these ideals, Naft recognizes the price tag but sees ahead to the payoff too.
“It’s always hard to justify the additional expense of technology,” Naft told O&P Business News. “If you take a close look at the efficiency and accuracy of how information is communicated, you may be surprised at the savings on the back end. One can tangibly measure and account for time saved.” — by Jennifer Hoydicz
There is no question that technology is playing a major role in the O&P industry, both from the patient care perspective and fabrication. When I entered the field 15 years ago some applications existed, but they were expensive and cumbersome. Those days are gone. Advances in computer processing power, significant software development, powerful laptops and portable digital imagers have made the costs much easier to justify.
The results can include more consistent clinical outcomes and higher practitioner productivity. Casts and prescription data can be transmitted instantly and stored indefinitely. At the same time many central fabricators are tooling up to accept a wide variety of file types, eliminating shipping costs and shortening turnaround time. Technology is making it easier and faster to fit patients and get them moving again – and those are benefits worth investing in.
— Seamus Kennedy, BEng (Mechanical), CPed
Co-owner, Hersco Ortho Labs