Striking a Balance: Technology & People

Big data.  Interoperability.  Integration strategies.  Organizational effectiveness.  Buzz words that can make your head spin.  Over the years, I have seen the rise of computer utilization in medical practices.  Yep, I just dated myself big time!  I have listened to the promises made by each new generation of software and I have witnessed the practical day-to-day challenges of implementation.  Just like in sports I have witnessed glorious victories and the agony of defeat.

Computers are really great at processing data and I think they should be utilized to do what they do best.  That said, the promised time savings for both provider and patient have not consistently yielded a better patient experience. The realities of flat reimbursement schedules and rising practice costs lead many practices to take whatever saved time they realize and reduce staff rather than returning any saved time to the patient.  This reality is understandable but it is not sustainable for the practice or for the patient.

People are really great at relationships and providing health care.   And I think they should be used to do what they do best. Your computer kiosk in your reception area may be efficient in checking in your patient but it does nothing to create relationship or foster trust between the provider and the patient.  It may well do the opposite.

As a master of the middle way, it is my recommendation to focus on balancing your strengths.  Have a robust computer system that enhances your communications and ability to process data.  At the same time, have a robust team of dedicated individuals who are present to the patients in all the right ways.  To welcome them, to listen to them, to educate them, and to treat them.  And like your computer system, your staff should also be provided the opportunity to upgrade their skills and abilities.

Creating good, clear and effective communications will save more time (and money) than just about anything else you can do in your practice.  Communications between the patient and the practice, between the practice and other practices, facilities and insurance plans, and let’s not forget about communications between staff members  – all of these communications affect your ability to render care effectively.  Good communications in all those areas will enhance the care and enhance your relationship with one another and all the stakeholders.  Ineffective communications will create a negative ripple effect that adversely impacts patient care.

If you are one of the lucky ones who have found a product that saves you and your staff time and energy – fantastic, keep it working for you!  Now take that time savings and invest in your relationship with one another and with your patients.  I have been consulting healthcare practices for over 25 years and it always comes down to communication.

Communication skills can be learned, they can be strengthened and they can be used to positively impact every interaction.  Do the math on that – every interaction made more positively impactful.  Imagine how that will change your day!

Ready to regain your balance? Contact me now!

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