How To Improve Efficiency And Cut Costs With Digital Technology

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How Digital Radiographs Provide Long-Term Savings

Digital technology is the future for radiographs and several companies provide excellent equipment. The typical cost for these systems is approximately $40,000 to $50,000. Several companies suggest that one can buy the systems for less money.

However, when one adds in the cost of cassettes, connecting to the office network and purchasing software to see the images on monitors in each treatment room, the cost easily approaches $50,000. This amount seems high but considering the cost of X-ray film and chemicals for processing and maintenance of the processor, the yearly costs are fairly equivalent to paying for the system in 48 to 60 months.

Dr. Werber and his staff frequently use text messaging and instant messaging to communicate during office hours. Instead of putting a message on a pad, a staff member can immediately type it online and send it to the cell phone of the doctor.
Are paper charts a thing of the past? Using a combination of scanners, paper management software and digital cameras goes a long way toward eliminating paper in patient charts.
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Author(s): 
By Bruce Werber, DPM

   One can add voice mail to the office lines. The message can direct patients with emergencies to call a secondary number, which is call forwarded to the DPM’s cell phone. The cell phone can identify such calls with a special ring. This lets the doctor know a patient is calling and he or she can either answer immediately or let the call go to voice mail.

   The advantage is one can hear the patient’s concern firsthand, not through the answering service operator’s interpretation. The call is logged on the phone and phone bill so one has documentation of receiving the message and having returned the call.

   How many times has your staff interrupted you for a call that was unnecessary but didn’t disturb you for the important call? In our office, we use text messaging and instant messaging for communicating messages and information during office/work hours. Instead of putting a message on a message pad, a staff member can immediately type it online and send it to the cell phone. I can decide to act immediately on the message by sending a reply or deal with the issue later.

   As far as mobile phones go, I recommend a Treo 600, the newer model Treo 650 or the Blackberry. Each of these phones has PDA functions, text messaging, instant messaging and/or e-mail. Certainly, there are other phones with text messaging capabilities but these models provide the full range of communication options.

   This small change has reduced interruptions and saved countless time. It has virtually eliminated phone tag. It has allowed the staff to respond to patient problems almost instantaneously, decreasing patient complaints. This also eliminates the need for a beeper, another significant cost savings.

Streamline Your Fax System

   With the advent of several new services, a practice can eliminate the cost of an additional phone line for the fax machine. These services include ourfax.com, fax4free.com and greenfax.com but the most well known are efax.com and faxaway.com. These services provide a dedicated fax number that a practice can give out. Faxes sent to that number are routed to e-mail. This eliminates the cost of a phone line, fax machine and paper cost for incoming junk faxes, which one can just delete from the e-mail inbox.

   You or your staff can send faxes directly from the computer as a Word file or type them directly into the fax program. An inexpensive scanner or multifunction printer with a scanner can fax non-electronic documents such as referrals or prescriptions. One advantage of using these fax products is that one can store and save these documents electronically, eliminating unnecessary paper in the office. As more and more practices make the move to a paperless office, staff can now attach these electronic files to each patient’s record.

   These fax services are reasonably priced, ranging from free to $20 per month. Even at the highest price, these services are less expensive than having a phone line, let alone the paper and time that you and your staff can save.

Archiving Records: How To Maximize Savings And Save Space

   To maintain old charts, a practice can spend $100 per month or more for storage space. We all keep explanation of benefits (EOBs) for years. Can a practice really find needed records after 12 months or even two months? How often does a practice ever need to find them again? In my experience, our office has rarely needed to retrieve these records yet we spent money every month storing them. The same goes for bills, receipts, message books and old appointment books. It is time to eliminate this drain on financial and space resources.

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