Why Your Medical Office Needs Up-to-Date Technology

Electronic records and online patient portals can boost efficiency and even spur more business.

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By John Knight

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Medical offices are notoriously known for being slow at adopting new technology.

There are a number of reasons for this: Doctors don't have time to learn new systems and tight budgets prevent them from buying new software and hardware. It's also a business in which personal, face-to-face relationships are important. Many patients might not be comfortable about seeing doctors over Skype or receiving a second opinion via email.

Despite the difficulties doctors may face when implementing new technology, it's worth it. Here are a few reasons why health care professionals should consider using electronic medical records, as well as online appointment setting and patient portals.

Related: 6 Hot Healthcare Companies: From Smart Pill Bottles to Smart Diapers, What's Driving Innovation in Medical Tech?

Spurring efficiency.

Say you want to follow up with a patient to be sure she's coming in for an annual mammogram. You must find her paper record, review her medical history, find the contact information and give her a call. If she doesn't answer and forgets to return your call, you then have to make a reminder to follow up.

Storing information in a paper documents can be a waste of valuable time, and you run the risk of losing one. When you have everything in a single place online or on a computer, processes can run more smoothly.

Saving money.

It's not the best use of your funds if medical staffers and support personnel spend all day looking through papers and filing them. Though it may seem like a big expense to update your recordkeeping systems, you'll gain hours of time that would be otherwise lost to less meaningful tasks.

Staffers will be able to focus more on the provision of one-on-one care, which will help strengthen your relationships with patients and could ultimately lead to more business. Also, you won't need as much brick-and-mortar space because you won't have to store so many files. All you would need is a computer.

Related: Championing Patient-Centered Innovation

Tracking medical histories easily.

When you create a system storing a person's full medical history, you're able to better track it. This is important when it comes to appointment setting. If a patient needs a followup appointment after test results come in, the system can automatically send an email. You can also set reminders for patients to let them know when they have to take certain medications or pick up prescriptions. The possibilities are endless.

When you have paper records, you must relying on people, and unfortunately humans can make mistakes. There is a risk involved, which should be eliminated when it comes to your patients' health and well-being. An electronic system is going to be much better at storing information. Plus, there is more accountability when there's a digital trail, which might come in handy when there is a discrepancy in the records.

Offer better service.

Updated technology makes it not only easier for employees but also for patients. An online portal through which patients can make appointments, see their medical history and ask questions is convenient and can save time. Patients will be more inclined to choose you over other doctors whom they would have to call in order to schedule an appointment, ask a question or request a copies of their medical history. Patients can also view their records online and inform you know of mistakes, which can ensure their safety and protect you from making errors.

You may feel like it's too late in the game to pursue setting up electronic medical records and online patient portals. But it's still possible still bring your office up to speed. Many companies specialize in turning an office around and increasing efficiency, speed and patient satisfaction.

More businesses are going high-tech and tapping into the power of new online systems. You don't want patients to become frustrated or feel like they're not receiving the best service possible. By updating your office, you will ensure that they'll stick around and continue to turn to you for care.

Plus, there are government incentives for updating medical recordkeeping to be electronic.

Related: These 3 Startups Are Looking to Get the Health Industry in Tip-Top Shape

John Knight

Surgeon at the Hand and Wrist Institute in Beverly Hills

Dr. John Knight of the Hand and Wrist Institute is a hand and wrist specialist with a focus on minimally invasive procedures. With more than 20 years of experience, he practices in Beverly Hills and Los Angeles. He also posts videos on YouTube. 

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