Undoubtedly you have seen plenty of advertisements and received numerous solicitations from Chiropractic EMR, Billing and Practice Management Software vendors. Their pitches to simplify your life, make your practice more efficient, earn you stimulus funds and do everything this side of massaging your tootsies are hard to escape.
One potential use for software stands out as massive untapped and seldom mentioned resource for your chiropractic business: the ability to extract meaningful data about your patients and practice.
5 Ways You Should Be Using Your Software or EMR
1. Automated Relationship Building. Most practices are in the habit of trying to keep in touch with their patients. To do this, some send newsletters (via snail mail or email) while others send birthday cards. This should be perhaps the first and most basic use for your software; if you are not doing this yet, start. If you don’t like writing a newsletter, pay a college student to do this or find a pre-printed one. But can also be easily expanded to sending an “anniversary” card or email celebrating when the patient first entered your practice. Or reminding the patient that their insurance benefit year is soon expiring. All of this falls into the relationship building category, which often gets tedious, unless you automate it!
2. Improving Consistency of Care. Many software systems now have features that allow you to send text or email appointment reminders. This is great but again, it’s the tip of the iceberg. What about running reports to see when your patient’s last had an exam? Easily done by running a report for the billing codes you use and can easily let you know it’s time to schedule that patient for a checkup. Does your practice use x-ray? How about running a report to determine patients whose x-rays are so old they are clinically useless? Then contact those patients to update their file; chances are if their x-rays are moldy they are either an inactive patient or an active one who slipped through the cracks and can perhaps benefit from some updated films. In this way, your software can help you provide better consistency of care – after all, if you performed an exam initially doesn’t it make sense to perform a follow-up to check progress? If you took an x-ray to help you determine the problem, how long will that be an accurate tool and when do you need to take another. You define the parameters but automating this helps you keep your care more consistent.
3. Promoting Service Lines. Do you offer massage? Sell nutritional products? Offer rehab or exercise instruction? Decompression? Are you frustrated that more of your patients do not take advantage of these services or products? Chances are, you mention them to new patients but what about your existing patients who have been coming to you forever? Some of them may not even know you offer the service. Or perhaps they briefly saw a sign go up when you added it, but didn’t take advantage of it at that time. Why not run a report on all those who are NOT using those services and customize a marketing or promotional letter to them to take advantage of these opportunities or at least speak to you to see if it would benefit them.
4. Re-Activation Cross-Promoting. What if we combine all the above concepts and attempt to re-activate old patients in a different manner? The birthday card may work for some, the reminder postcard that it’s been a while may work for others, but what if you cross-promote some of your other services in an attempt to re-activate patients? Perhaps at this time, they don’t feel the need to get an adjustment as they are doing relatively well. But a massage may sound like a nice treat – whether they need it or not! Or maybe they have been wondering about what children’s vitamins are best and they see that you mention your new product line and stop in to buy some. In this way, you are expanding the number of possibilities that the patient will re-enter your practice outside of just your chiropractic services.
5. Allocating Marketing Dollars. Many DC’s are frustrated by declining insurance reimbursements and working harder for the same or less money. Most of us also don’t have an unlimited budget to use for marketing purposes. Use your software to help you solve both problems and work smarter, not harder! Run reports to find out who your biggest payers are, where your referrals come from, who pays the least in a dollars per visit average and which marketing efforts produced the best or worst ROI. Tracking this data will help you better prioritize your marketing dollars towards what works and help you eliminate or give less time, attention and money to what doesn’t.
As I mentioned previously, I see few vendors promoting their software in this manner when most of them probably are quite capable of doing so. Instead of letting patients (and income) slip in and out of your practice, use your software to help keep you accountable to giving the best care, to maximize revenues from the patients you do have (instead of constantly seeking new patients who will eventually fall through the cracks anyway) and to automate the process as much as possible.
Finally, if you are not on EMR – why not? It’s hardly a matter of “if” anymore but when. While there is no one-size-fits-all system, I do have some definite, admittedly biased opinions on the matter. You may want to see my posts on Should I Get a Chiropractic EMR System or What Chiropractic EMR System I Recommend if you are still on the fence.