It's that time of year again, back to school, when parents (like me), who put off their children's annual check-ups call your office hoping to be seen before the official start of the school year.
This post isn't about parents, however. It's about you and your practice. It's about giving your practice its annual check-up. Why is this important? Just as you want your patients and their families to be healthy and thriving, you want to make sure your office is in its peak shape and ready to jump into flu (shot) and sick season.
Here are 4 recommendations to consider to get prepared for the coming months:
1. Adjust provider schedules based on seasonal variability of visit types
In Vermont we have 3 seasons: "Mud", "Construction" and Winter, and we tailor our outside activities to fit the season – just like you should tailor your schedule for the seasons Spring, Back-to-school, and Flu/Sick. Offer more "sick" visits during the Fall and Winter, offer more wells in the Summer back to school. Of course, there will always be an illness outbreak during the summer, so even the perfect schedule on paper won't always work 100% of the time.
2. Review your workflows
Changing from summer well visits to fall and winter sick visits may mean a change in workflow is needed as well. Does your nursing staff have the appropriate flu vaccines in stock? Is your order and fulfillment process different? Is there paperwork to be completed if you offer flu shots to Mom and Dad as well? Do you have a handout, with references, ready for parents who insist on antibiotics?
3. Update your EHR visit templates
Maybe you've been thinking about how to streamline your sick visit templates all summer or since last sick season. Now is the time to update them, before you get super busy with sick visits. Does your office schedule reason-specific sick visits? Scheduling for cough or sore throat could help you streamline your templates and workflows, even if it's incorrect some of the time.
4. Activate your patient portal
Does your EHR system offer a patient portal? Is it turned on? Do you take advantage of all the features it offers, such as online payments and secure messaging?
You can read more about Patient Portal on this blog: 4 Ways a Patient Portal Can Upgrade the Patient Experience
How to limit the number of parents from calling at the last minute to schedule a well visit
This one is easy: recall, recall, recall. From your system, create a list of all of the patients who are overdue for their well visit. Don't recall all of them! Sort the list by age, the last time they came in, and by their insurance carrier. Call, email, text to remind them to come in, ideally using your EHR's recaller feature. Based on anecdotal facts, 3 reminders seems to be the magic number needed to get the greatest returns.
In some cases, your immunization manufacturers will even remind your patients for you. Convince them that creating a list based on a missing immunization isn't enough, create a list of patients missing their 4 to 6 year well visit where they typically receive their second doses of MMR/Varicella, for example.
Just like your patients, preventive care is crucial for the overall health for your practice. Welcome back to school!