Clinic management systems
Charles Southey examines how clinic management systems can help to maximise the the productivity and profitability of a medical practice
Virtually all of a clinician’s time is spent with their patients. So much of each day is spent ‘in the business’ that very little time remains to focus ‘on the business’. Often essential elements to the future success of a medical practice, such as marketing and strategy planning are left by the wayside, in the hope that they’ll either sort themselves out, or a window of opportunity will miraculously appear to solve them.
Whilst it’s impossible to slow down time, I believe it is possible to make more efficient use of time, and allow technology to help out. One way doctors can make better use of technology to free up more time is to use a clinic management system (CMS).
A CMS provides the tools to run your practice more efficiently. It can help you to take patient notes and store them digitally (i.e. without the need for paper), manage patient contact details, coordinate practitioner diaries and appointments, provide a billing platform as well as providing critical commercial information and access to the metrics that inform, at a glance, how the clinic is doing as a business.
It’s important to be aware of your progress towards achieving your revenue goals, whether stock control is in hand, how many patients missed appointments and how profitable you are. Having information like that, that’s easily accessible at any given moment is a process adopted by successful businesses and those without it should follow suit.
It’s how you use your data that’s important
Accessibility of your clinic data is key. Using the Cloud you can access your clinic information, your patient information and critical data, from anywhere at any time and from any device, quickly, easily and securely. It’s useful to examine the quality of the data you’re collecting, whether you’re collecting enough, or even any. For example, can you use your current system to generate treatment history and which products have been used on a particular patient? By using a system that stores and generates this information on request you can start to see trends and patterns.
Do you have the means to digitally capture and store before and after pictures to complement each patient history? Historically, to get this data may have meant ages getting reports together and using old records. Today this data needs to be quick to gather and easily accessible—and that’s entirely possible. This is the information which helps you grow the clinic. If you focus on aspects of the clinic which are working really well and discover the things that aren’t, by working with that data, you can start to run your practice more efficiently and profitably. For example if a particular type of treatment is popular and the data you are collecting confirms this, you can then focus more attention on that. Likewise aspects of the clinic that are not viable as they are can be re-thought or eliminated.
Having marketing data is vital. Acting upon it is equally as important. Your CMS should offer a true and current reflection as to which marketing schemes are working well and which are not.
It’s well known that half the money spent on advertising is wasted—but one can never be sure which half. You can spend a lot of time, effort and money on marketing, but you need to be sure of what is financially worthwhile. Your system needs to identify where your new patients have come from, for example a self-referral from your website or a referral. That information needs to be easily accessible and in front of you. With this information you can tailor your marketing strategy to your clinic.
It’s worth considering whether your patients know the full extent of your services. If you’re looking to increase the amount of treatments from existing patients, then they need to know what you offer. A process of increasing awareness of available treatments needs to be integrated into your CMS system. In fact everything from the marketing aspects, to e-mail, all needs to be integral to your CMS system so you can start to track your patients’ journey from start to finish.
For patients to be able to book directly via your website is expected, especially in the facial aesthetics field. People want convenience, they want quick and easy options. Your system can have this functionality integrated.
Once you’ve worked really hard to attract patients and to build relationships with them, you want to keep that relationship strong. Up-to-date email marketing informing patients of clinic news and new treatments is an effective way of generating new bookings from current patients. Likewise allowing patients to feedback on their treatments can be a great way of tailoring your practice to patient needs. Your system could even incorporate a satisfaction metric such as net promoter score. This is an advocacy metric which asks your patients on a scale of one to ten how likely they are to recommend you and, if they’re a nine or a ten, whether they would consider being an advocate of the practice.
Financial reports, tend to be created at month end, but you need to be able to assess your financial position on demand. Knowing how things stand today, this week and this month in terms of revenue, cost and profitability, helps you plan for growth.
It’s important to ensure your system is integrated. It’s possible to have lots of different systems that do all these different things, but really to have a proper workflow, you need to have a single system where everything works seamlessly together. Your system should be enjoyable and intuitive to use—from appointment through to invoicing to follow-up. It should be able to give you that data you really need.
With a CMS reports are automated, and generated with very little effort on your part. A system that offers you the vital data and information you need on your practice saves time.
Ultimately you’re a clinician, so you patient satisfaction and professionalism are the most crucial aspects of your business but a CMS system can help you grow your clinic as a business. If you invest in a really good management system that handles the business aspects of the practice, you will then be able to focus on patient care without the distraction of complicated administration.
Charles Southey is Co-Founder of Digital Results, makers of Clinic Solutions, the refreshingly different Clinic Management System. He has been involved in the development of software for the past six years and has worked with dentists, doctors, lawyers, chemists and everything in between.