As an outpatient rehab therapy business grows, its needs change. And sometimes, depending on the speed and direction of growth, the tools therapists once heavily relied on to build a successful clinical foundation are unable to keep up with, and adapt to, new demands.
Your clinic’s Electronic Health Records (EHR) system is one such tool that can quickly fall behind the growth curve.
In fact, when an EHR can’t keep up with the growing requirements of your rehab therapy team, it can actually slow growth and limit your ability to diversify and expand your practice. One size does not fit all when it comes to EHR solutions, a fact realized every day by physical, occupational and speech therapy teams that continually require higher levels of customization, flexibility and automation from their EHRs.
So, as your rehab clinic grows – as it enhances its value proposition through additional programs, services, staff and locations – how do you know if your current EHR system may be holding you back from your potential as a clinic? What red flags should you be looking for?
Here are five signs that you and your rehab therapy team may be outgrowing your current EHR solution:
1. You Constantly Feel Short-Staffed
When processes and workflows become inefficient, this can definitely affect your bottom line. And when your EHR isn’t equipped to offer flexible solutions to these growth-driven inefficiencies, clinic owners and operators may feel compelled to solve them through additional manpower – particularly by adding more specialized admin and billing professionals.
This feeling of being short-staffed can also affect your rehab therapy team. When your therapists start to feel buried in documentation and administrative requirements related to payer or compliance rules, this will inevitably reduce patient visit capacity.
Unfortunately, it’s difficult to hire your way out of such inefficiencies without it drastically affecting your bottom line.
If this starts to feel like a good solution, however, or if you feel like you’re constantly in hiring mode to make up for issues with documentation errors, denials and so on, this is likely a sign you could benefit from smarter and more flexible automation within your EHR system.
2. Your Team Follows Manual or Redundant Workflow Processes Outside Your EHR
As the saying goes, “when the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.” Even so, some problems eventually exceed the usefulness of your favorite tool, even if it’s the tool you relied on to get you where you are today.
It’s only natural, then, that when a rehab therapist’s EHR tool can’t do everything they need it to do, employees may feel compelled to turn to outside tools to fill gaps in their EHR performance.
This may include the overuse of tools like email for patient and interdepartmental correspondence; Excel spreadsheets for running reports and tracking important tasks like authorizations, physician orders and patient eligibility; phone calls for making appointment reminders; and even Post-it notes for internal communications and reminders.
Not only does it take additional time to work outside your EHR, but decentralizing your daily processes and redundant workflows can make your team prone to errors and inconsistencies which may affect patient satisfaction.
3. Your Cost Per Visit is Increasing
Do you know what the average rehab patient visit is currently costing your clinic? If you don’t, that’s something you may want to remedy ASAP. Cost per visit is a key performance indicator (KPI) that can help you track success and alert you to inefficiencies within your practice.
So of course, if you find your average cost per visit is continually rising, this could be yet another indication that your EHR solution is not able to keep up with changing workflows and compliance needs within your growing clinic.
For example, are inefficiencies in billing making it hard to collect? Have you had to hire more people to solve issues with rejections, inaccurate or incomplete documentation, coding errors, missing authorizations, and so on? Is your rehab therapy staff spending more time dealing with administrative issues when they’d rather be focusing on patient outcomes?
The ideal EHR system will be armed with ready-made solutions that empower you and your rehab therapy team as you encounter potential growing pains.
4. You Can’t Access Clinic-Wide Data in Real Time
As your clinic grows, it’s likely you’ve added various specialties, departments, and perhaps even locations. To reduce confusion and errors while minimizing redundancy, it’s important staff members are able to access important data in real time across all locations.
Such data includes billing and claims, of course, but it also includes patient registration and scheduling. The ideal EHR solution will allow you to, for instance, view patient schedules for all rehab therapists across all locations, making it possible for one person to oversee scheduling, avoid double-booking, and ensure open times are quickly filled.
Being unable to view real-time data can also affect billers posting ERAs and EOBs as well as front-desk administrators trying to collect current balances when patients arrive for their appointments. Being forced to wait on data can slow processes and create confusion that can directly affect the patient experience, making it harder to collect balances while the patient is still active.
5. Your Practice is Becoming Increasingly Diverse
The ability to manage a growing clinic’s rehab therapy specialties (pelvic health, geriatric, pediatrics, etc.), diverse sets of payer mixes (i.e., insurance, Part B, or cash), multiple services (i.e., worker’s comp, at-home services) and varieties of programs can be limited with some EHR solutions.
On top of this, the more diverse your clinic becomes – diversity in services, specialties, locations, patient populations, and so on – the greater your need will likely be to create workflows that are just as specialized and individualized as your team.
In addition, a diverse patient population means diverse patient preferences. Accommodating this often means offering choices to fit individual patient engagement needs like communication preferences for direct messaging, appointment reminders, and medical records access.
If you find that your clinic is experiencing one or more of the above issues and you feel your growth is outpacing the capabilities of your current EHR, it may be time to consider a new EHR solution – one that offers powerful automation and simplified workflows that enable your team to focus on patient care.
Net Health© Therapy for Clinics
Built from the ground up as an “enterprise for any size” EHR solution, Net Health© Therapy for Clinics is a comprehensive, all-in-one EHR system designed to address the documentation and management needs of outpatient physical, speech and occupational therapy providers.
Created by rehab therapists for rehab therapists, Net Health© Therapy for Clinics is a powerful solution for rehab therapy practices of all shapes and sizes in need of:
- Increased therapist productivity, retention and compliance
- Increased revenue and reimbursement
- Improved clinic efficiency and the client experience
- Growing its practice through patient engagement; real-time, data-driven insights; and built-in automation with scalable workflows
To learn more about how Net Health© Therapy for Clinics can support your clinic’s growth while helping ensure your rehab therapy team delivers optimal care to your patients, contact us today to schedule a demo!
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