For more than 20 years, I practiced Family Medicine in the greater Seattle area. Although I was always affiliated with large, multispecialty organizations during that time, many of my professional friends and colleagues are other primary care physicians. Most of those doctors work independently or as partners in small practices. In fact, the majority of all out-patient physicians in America still work in independent practices with 10 or less doctors. Essentially these doctors are running small businesses with all of the inherent challenges of owning and operating a business.
With federal funding through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, many practices are now implementing electronic medical record systems. It’s the right thing to do, but not without its challenges. Many small practices are still holding out waiting for prices to go down or better solutions to emerge. Whether or not you are buying an EMR for your practice, there are other more immediate and tangible ways that you can improve your clinic’s productivity and bottom line.
Take a lesson from Dr. Cody Milhills and his staff at the Milhills Web Medical clinic in Fort Worth Texas. Mihills Webb Medical is a typical, small primary care clinic that specializes in providing preventative services, acute and urgent care, and chronic disease management to patients of all ages. The physicians and staff there were seeking a more efficient way to communicate and collaborate with each other in their clinic. After speaking to Microsoft partner, US Medical IT, they decided to adopt Microsoft Office 365, which includes web-based instant messaging through Microsoft Lync Online. An important consideration in their decision was the fact that Microsoft cloud services are HIPAA-compliant.
Now that the solution has been implemented and staff are using it daily, they couldn’t be more pleased. “Using Office 365 allows me to communicate with my staff in a HIPAA compliant manner”, says Dr. Cody Milhills, family physician and partner at Milhills Webb Medical. “If I need to ask for records from the hospital, I can do that without walking from my office or having to pick up the phone to speak to someone on the other side of the office. I can simply send them a message and they will respond to me promptly”, said Dr. Mihills.
“Office 365 has changed our experience at Mihills Webb because we’re more efficient”, said Terri Andres, practice manager at Mihills Webb. “When we saw the cost of it, it was so cost effective that for all the benefits we got--communication, the HIPAA compliance--that it was really a no brainer.”
When patients arrive at the clinic, front desk staff use Lync to inform medical assistants that a patient is there and ready to be taken to an exam room. Likewise, Lync is used to let staff know that charts have been pulled, or communicate to doctors that a patient is ready to be seen.
“Patients are having a better experience at the doctors office as a result of this technology. Office 365 from a business standpoint has been a winning proposition”, said Dr. Milhills. “Using Office 365 has increased productivity so much that we’ve calculated 30 days saving of medical assistant time, meaning patients are seen more quickly and we can see more patients here at the office, meaning our bottom line is improved significantly”, he said.
Whether you own and operate a small medical practice, or a gigantic multispecialty healthcare organization, you will be amazed how many ways staff productivity can be improved and how your patients can be better served when you incorporate a contemporary communication and collaboration solution supporting today’s need for more flexible and highly mobile clinical workflows. You can learn more by watching the video below or following this link. For a free trial of Office 365 visit www.microsoft.com/office365/trial.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft