How To Improve Efficiency And Cut Costs With Digital Technology

Author(s): 
By Bruce Werber, DPM

Other Phone Modifications That Can Enhance Efficiency

   An answering service is a significant cost each month for many practices. A combination of call forwarding, voice mail and cell phone technologies can eliminate the cost of an answering service.    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.

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