In the modern day and age, the ability to book an important appointment has been made as easy as the click of a button on a computer screen or smartphone.
While some practices are hesitant to upgrade to a system which relies so heavily on technology – especially given the high number of elderly patients they deal with who may not be so tech-savvy – the benefits of a fully functioning patient access system (PAS) are immeasurable.
The system itself serves as a multi-functioning online service which provides a plethora of handy, and in some cases crucial, features to make maintaining health records, prescriptions and personal information for patients far simpler.
Before we tackle five ways in which you can upgrade your patient access system, let’s get a better overall understanding of exactly what it is the system will provide for your practice:
- Booking appointments – The primary and simplest use of the service is for patients to make booking appointments as easy as possible. Rather than relying on a receptionist to log the mass level of calls coming in, a patient access system means a click of a button from the comfort of a patient’s living room is all it takes.
- Ordering repeat prescriptions – Similarly, the system also makes ordering pre-existing prescriptions much easier, with the PAS storing a log of every order a patient has ever made. Again, this simplifies the process for everyone, as it means an automated record ensures no errors are made in the medicating process.
- Change address details – With patients constantly moving location, the PAS provides a means for them to inform a practice of a change of address – crucially ensuring no human error is made (for example, the oversight of an address change or an incorrectly copied location)
- Secure patient to practice messages – The system also allows for patients to contact your practice and leave messages that can only be read by you and them at any hour of the day, regardless of office hours.
- View a medical record – The PAS cuts out the middle man by allowing patients to view their medical records whenever they so desire. While a doctor will unsurprisingly have a full medical record of all their patients, this also makes it easier for reception staff to access records at the click of a button in emergency cases.
These primary factors make the use of a PAS integral for the success of a modern day practice. At a time when the relationship between a doctor and a patient is more important than ever, keeping your system as up-to-date as possible is key.
But just how do you do that? Today we’re going to run through five ways in which you can update or upgrade your patient access system, highlighting exactly why each factor could make a huge positive difference to you.
1. More intricate organisation and privacy on medical records
With illnesses and conditions varying from patient to patient, practices have developed methods of separating certain conditions into general health, sexual health, mental health and social care.
This additional feature to the system means the practice can not only organise diagnostics simply, but offer their patients greater privacy – with ‘embarrassing’ conditions not appearing at the top of their record (if it’s not relevant to their current issue).
While a doctor will naturally be expected to have full access to everything on a patient’s list, it does make it possible for them to hide some more sensitive information from other people who could view their record – for example if they have a carer they don’t feel comfortable totally opening up to about their past sexual health.
This upgrade feature also allows a flexible altering of category – with conditions able to be swapped between any of the four sections at any time. Once a category has been switched it becomes private from the list it was just in.
The added restrictions for access of information will serve to make a lot of your patients feel at ease with the system – helping to aid in the transition between the old fashioned written system and the modern computerised method.
2. Twenty-four-hour professional tech support
While you would hope your system doesn’t experience too many faults in its daily usage, it’s impossible to escape the odd technical fault when utilising a system relying heavily on complicated algorithms.
Some providers of a patient access system ensure there is professional tech support available to practices at all hours of the day. The knowledge that a techy will be on hand to deal with any issues you might experience, whenever they come up, ensures you’ll never be more than half an hour without the system at any time.
This feature tags on a slight extra cost to the service, but ultimately pays for itself, with an instant response from technicians, seeing your system back up and running within minutes of going down.
3. Data share between healthcare practices
Until recently it’s been somewhat challenging for practices to transfer data between one place and another – something that’s crucial when a patient moves location or suffers an accident or emergency while on holiday, or away from their hometown.
A new software upgrade has seen this issue eradicated, with the integrated service making it possible for practices to transfer data and records to anyone else using the same system as them.
The upgrade effectively means there is a centralised hub of operations for all patient access systems, meaning there are no extraordinary measures that need to be taken when transferring data.
This particular improvement to the system is currently being backed by NHS England, with the need to try and bring all practices across the country closer together one of their key aims for the coming years.
4. Fully upgraded recording software
For those patients who still don’t feel comfortable with booking appointments online, a state-of-the-art recording software system means calls will not go unnoticed even if they are missed by the reception desk.
This system records every call that is ever made by a patient to the practice, logging exactly who made them and when. This makes it easy to get back in contact with your patients and means, theoretically, appointments will not be missed.
It is the duty of a patient access system provider to ensure this recording source is as up to date as possible and will not fail to record a single call. Several suppliers offer this but Premier Patient Line stand out as one of the best, with an ISO 9000 accreditation as well as being a Panasonic telephony provider with the highest possible accreditation as a Panasonic Alliance Partner.
5. Call logging systems
This aforementioned call logging doesn’t only help practices keep a detailed track of who has been getting in touch with them, but also goes a long way to ensuring you can keep a detailed track of data, which you can break down analytically to stay on top of a wide array of things.
This call logging helps to serve up reports on your network capacity capabilities and overall performance, as well as the cost and quality of phone services. This will help with your overall expenses and makes staying on top of costs that little bit easier come the end of the year.
Certain PAS providers will supply you with a full monthly cost report, detailing exactly how you can reduce certain expenses and boosting the overall efficiency of the practice. These suppliers will also guarantee top range recording devices that are FSA compliant.
These are just some of the improvements that can be made to an already existing patient access system, but there are several more out there. For a full list of prices for each of these upgrades check out this price list from one of the UK’s top PAS providers.