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Top Six New Year Resolutions for Physicians

Posted by Teresa Iafolla, Jan 5, 2015

With the year just beginning, you're probably powering through your new year's resolutions this month. Lose a few pounds, dedicate more time to a hobby, spend more times with the kids. What about resolutions for your practice? How do you break nebulous goals like “increase my practice’s revenue” or “improve patient satisfaction and engagement” into achievable steps? We took a few of the relevant healthcare trends for 2015 and turned them into this year's top 6 new year resolutions for physicians. Stick to these and you're guaranteed to improve your patient satisfaction this year.

Get more informed on what’s going on in healthcare.

Besides our wonderful eVisit blog, start following these 6 Healthcare blogs to stay up to date on industry trends and practice tips. Feeling overwhelmed by all that reading? Try using a simple aggregator like Feedly that pulls your subscriptions and online content into one place. Whether you’re browsing the news while sipping your morning coffee or have a few extra minutes to read while waiting in line at the grocery store, you’ll be able to catch-up with a few clicks on your phone, tablet, or computer.

Any website, blog, or academic journal with an RSS feed can be seamlessly added to your Feedly stream. Better yet, it’ll give you the latest research and news without clogging your inbox.

Cater to the newly insured.

A projected 24 million newly insured consumers will be looking for doctors and care in 2015. That means a massive number of potential new patients for your practice. What do we know about these newcomers to health insurance? A detailed portrait is still developing, but research shows the biggest increase in sign-ups was among millennials, aged 19-34.

What does this mean for you? You’ll might need to ramp up your practice marketing if you want to bring in these new patients. You should also consider how your practice appeals to younger demographics, who are more likely to want mobile access to their medical records and expect better patient engagement. Use these insights from a recent Software Advice survey of 297 millennials to plan your patient engagement strategy for the New Year.

Use physician extenders to raise practice efficiency, improve care, and increase your job satisfaction. 

With administrative tasks consuming up to 1/6th of physicians’ time, and a shortage of primary care doctors, many care providers are using physician “extenders” to fill the gap. Extenders are nurses, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists or other trained medical staff who can complete simple care tasks and treat minor injuries. If your appointment schedule is overloaded, or you’re struggling with long patient wait times and piles of paperwork, try hiring an extender or changing your office workflow so that a PA can take over some of your appointments. About 1/3 of doctors report that over half of their patient interactions could be managed by an extender.

Your patients won’t mind either; a recent report from PwC's Health Research Institute (HRI) showed 75% of patients are comfortable seeing a nurse practitioner or physician assistant for minor injuries, physicals, and other simple procedures. Spending the extra time and money adjusting your practice workflow now could lead to a year of better work-life balance, more time spent with your patients, and better coordinated care.

Treat your patients like informed consumers.

While cost-of-care transparency is hardly a new idea, more tools and initiatives are coming out this year that aim to turn patients into informed healthcare consumers. Online platforms like UnitedHealthcare’s myHealthcare Cost Estimator and Castlight Health’s pricing tool empower patients to pick higher-quality and more cost-efficient health providers and reduce their medical costs. New initiatives like Project Data Sphere and the Yale University Open Data Access Project are giving people increased access to clinical trial data from pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturers, allowing consumers to weigh the benefits, risks, and costs of different treatments for themselves.

What does this mean for doctors? For one, take some time to analyze your rates. Are they competitive with other providers in the area? If they’re higher, is it because you’re truly providing better quality services or because you need to be more cost-efficient?

Second, when you’re deciding on treatments for your patients, consider the price of the medication as a factor. Ask your patients about their medication budget and coverage as you’re considering treatment plans. Be ready to compare generic and name brand options, and offer your patients options so that they’re engaged in the decision process. Chances are, your patients will appreciate that you’re treating them like an informed consumer and respecting their wallets.

Implement a telehealth service this year. According to a recent telemedicine survey, 90% of healthcare providers are developing telemedicine programs. Only a meager 8% said they didn’t have telehealth services on their minds. Where does your practice stand? Besides giving you a competitive edge by expanding services and accessibility for your patients, telehealth can improve your patient flow and increase practice revenue. And, with this year’s new Medicare reimbursement codes for telehealth services, barriers to payment are coming down. Start looking into a telemedicine solution now and learn how to integrate it into your practice.

Get on the mHealth bandwagon. With over 10,000 medical and health apps in the iTunes store and 247 million consumers reporting they’ve downloaded one of these apps, there’s no doubt that the mHealth movement is taking off. According to HRI's 2015 healthcare trends report, 86% of surveyed physicians agreed mobile apps will be an important part of managing patient health over the next 5 years. Whether you’re trying to encourage patient treatment adherence, track patient vital signs, or reduce your data collection costs, mobile health apps are a great way to work towards increased revenue and higher-quality patient care this year.

Not sure where to start? Peruse the mHealth landscape with these helpful infographics and then head over to Medical Economics for this indispensable article on prescribing mobile apps to your patients. With 78% of consumers interested in mhealth solutions, you’re almost guaranteed to have happy patients who appreciate your tech-savvy approach to their care.

Resolutions don’t need to be insurmountable goals. Use this New Year as a blank slate for your practice, an opportunity to build practice revenue and increase patient satisfaction.

What are your New Year’s resolutions for your practice? Commit by leaving us a comment!

Topics: mHealth, new year's resolutions, Personal Development, physician extenders, telehealth

Teresa Iafolla

About Teresa Iafolla

Teresa Iafolla is an expert writer, researcher, and content wrangler who has previously worked as director of content marketing for a telehealth company and associate editor for a healthcare publishing company.

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