When patients or prospective patients go to your practice’s website, do they encounter a static, boilerplate site that hasn’t been updated in ages? When they walk into your waiting room, do they find a stack of old magazines or a daytime talk show running on TV?
Now transition from your patient’s perspective to your own. In the exam room, do you scribble a diagram on a scrap of paper to describe a procedure? Do you wish you could do more in the area of patient education — offering more information that they could share and retain easily?
As much as some doctors like to think things like this don’t matter in the important work of practicing medicine, the reality is that out-of-date – or nonexistent – technology does not cut it in 2014.
Patient education is important, but patients want tech-savvy doctors – or at least the appearance that you’re embracing modern technology. According to a recent survey by medical billing software company Kareo, 60 percent of respondents said it was extremely important to them that their doctor use technology as part of their job. The same percentage also said use of technology increased their confidence in the doctor.
Investing in new technologies has been proven to improve patient care and increase practices’ bottom lines, even where you might not expect it – like a rural optometry practice with a high percentage of geriatric patients. Offering high-quality animations of medical procedures in your waiting room or on your website (like this rural practice, for example), sends the message that you are staying current with modern technology and healthcare. Though many doctors don’t know where to start, the good news is that bringing your practice’s technology up to speed doesn’t require a total overhaul or a huge investment.
Here are a few areas that might need a tech upgrade:
1. Your website and Facebook page.
A site that’s little more than an online brochure is a wasted opportunity. According to Pew Research, 72 percent of Internet users are looking for health information online, so why not be a reputable source? Offering high-quality medical videos and resources on your website is easy with internet-based patient education programs that provide the content for you. About the same percentage of Internet users also use social networking sites, so it makes sense that doctors should, too. Why? There are many advantages to your practice having a presence on social media, including that it personalizes the doctor-patient relationship.
To learn more, see Tips to Use Facebook to Attract New Patients and Improve Patient Retention
2. Your waiting room.
The same technology that allows you to play cutting-edge medical animations on your website and on social media enables you to showcase any mix of patient-focused content you want on any screen in your waiting room – a flat-screen TV, an iPad, even a desktop computer repurposed for that use. Online technology can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection, so it doesn’t require you to purchase additional hardware. It also allows you to use the software provider’s content or upload your own, such as patient testimonials or “commercials” to market new procedures you offer.
Why bother with waiting room solutions? Research on the psychology of waiting shows that patients are eager to get started, so even if the doctor is not ready for them yet, they want to feel like their time is being well spent.
3. Your exam room.
Patients and physicians alike have mixed feelings about the use of technology in the exam room. Depending on the type of tech, it can either enhance or detract from the interaction. “In my clinical training and in the literature, [I observed] that both patients and doctors barely tolerate desktop computers in the exam room because of the feeling of too much time looking at a screen instead of the patient — but almost everyone loves tablets,” explains Amanda Angelotti, MD, in a recent blog post, “How technology can save the craft of medicine.”
This simple change in the kind of technology used makes a big difference on whether people feel like it’s a barrier or an enhancement, Angelotti says. “A tablet computer sporting useful diagrams that doctors and patients look at together can enable shared decision-making, which could be the impetus for a stronger connection with the confused patient sitting on your exam table looking for medical answers, but also human reassurance.”
The most successful practices approach technology as a way to improve upon what doctors are already doing, ideally while saving time and improving patient satisfaction.
To learn how we can help your practice bring its technology up to speed, contact us today.