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Patient Self-Service: Perk or Expectation?

When is the last time you walked into a bank? Automated teller machines put banking transactions in the hands of customers years ago. Airport kiosks, gas pumps, ridesharing, self- check-out lanes, and bill payment have joined the self-service trend. Most Americans love the convenience, transparency, and flexibility of self-service, and businesses can enjoy the cost savings from using this “free” employee. Is it time for your practice to engage in an activity – or two – that offers self-service? Consider these available options:

  • Self-scheduling is rapidly becoming an expectation, and practices are enjoying an increase in new patients – and a reduction in no shows - as a result.
  • Appointment confirmations via text, email, or other secure software reduce no shows and allow you to fill those last-minute open slots from your wait list, boosting your practice’s profits. (Don’t forget necessary HIPAA authorizations.)
  • Structured self-reported history questionnaires can be integrated into the electronic health record system, saving precious staff and provider time.
  • Requests for referrals, prescription renewals. and other tasks can be efficiently batched and handled asynchronously (through a secure, encrypted transaction), boosting staff productivity.
  • Messages can be received from patients through a secure portal or app, saving time to properly identify the patient and document the message.
  • Electronic bill payment can be offered, reducing the ever-increasing cost of paper and postage.

The list of self-service options for medical practices to offer is growing, rapidly moving from a customer perk to an expectation. Consider taking advantage of these options so that your medical practice stays at the forefront of patient expectations.

About The Author

Elizabeth Woodcock is the founder and principal of Woodcock & Associates. She has focused on medical practice operations and revenue cycle management for more than 25 years. She has led educational sessions for a multitude of national professional associations and specialty societies, and consulted for clients as diverse as a solo orthopaedic surgeon in rural Georgia to the Mayo Clinic. She is author or co-author of 17 best-selling practice management books, to include Mastering Patient Flow and The Physician Billing Process: Avoiding Potholes in the Road to Getting Paid. Elizabeth is a Fellow in the American College of Medical Practice Executives and a Certified Professional Coder. In addition to a Bachelor of Arts from Duke University, she completed a Master of Business Administration in healthcare management from The Wharton School of Business of the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently a doctoral student at the Bloomberg School of Public Health of Johns Hopkins University.

The contents of The Sentinel are intended for educational/informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Policyholders are urged to consult with their personal attorney for legal advice, as specific legal requirements may vary from state to state and/or change over time.

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