Improved Visit Planning: Can It Lead To A Higher Level Of Quality Care?

Author(s): 
By Barbara Aung, DPM and Kim Jungkind, MPH, RN, CCM

Emphasizing Easy Access And Use Of Software

   The program requires only a single computer at the front desk and a Web connection to work. There is no need to outfit the whole clinic with computers. The podiatrist typically does not need to touch the computer. Accordingly, he or she doesn’t have to worry about data entry tasks slowing him or her down during patient visits.    However, for offices with computers in the exam room, physicians can access the Visit Planner online during the visit. Web access allows physicians in the individual patient exam room to document the changes. Some clinicians find the computer tablet easy to use and update the patient’s progress but for others, it may be a barrier to the patient exam.    With the system that we utilized in the Arizona-based practice, there is no need for additional equipment and expertise such as computer servers and back-up methodologies.    Some practices may use a Microsoft Access database system to monitor patients. While this approach is sometimes satisfactory, it may require local information technology management and back-up capabilities. Additionally, accessing records from multiple offices is problematic. Many systems require constant programmatic fixes and updates, a process that can be difficult to manage. Deploying this kind of registry can require resources that are unavailable and it is typically not as flexible as a Web-based interactive tool.

Promoting Quality Care, Better Documentation And Improved Office Morale

   Patients with diabetes are particularly challenging to treat and need comprehensive care. Improved visit planning can enhance a practitioner’s ability to deliver care that specifically addresses the patient’s needs during a particular visit. The improved efficiency also allows podiatrists to address more of the patient’s comprehensive care needs and facilitate appropriate referral recommendations if necessary.    Employers, managed care plans and “pay for performance” initiatives are becoming more popular for documenting quality care for patients. PatientPlanner can help podiatric practices meet the emerging documentation and reporting challenges. Indeed, improved documentation may facilitate increased reimbursement.    We also found that implementing this software decision support package improved the performance of the office staff. We saw increased job satisfaction among the staff as they took on more of a role in the care of a patient.    In terms of emerging and future trends, communication through a HIPAA compliant and secure exchange of information is certainly part of the medical communications landscape throughout the United States. It is also important to keep in mind that patient messaging with the podiatric physician may be more commonplace in the future. This information may include patient risk assessments and patient education.    In contrast, retrospective chart review will become a thing of the past. It is time consuming, costly and may not have updated information. Physicians may also be reluctant to participate in voluntary chart reviews.

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