Electronic medical record implementation has given healthcare providers tools to track and share patient data. But successful orthopedic surgeons are going beyond the EMR to provide better patient experience and leverage data gathering opportunities.
"Everything we do should be patient-centric. We are focused on better ways to enhance our relationship with patients and patient care through new technology," says Dr. Mandelbaum. "The use of EHR is one step, but we have to further develop ways to communicate with patients."
Here are the strategies Bert Mandelbaum, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with Santa Monica (Calif.) Orthopaedic & Sports Medicine Group, is using in his practice:
1. Eliminate (most) phone calls. Unless physicians need to relay substantive information, their office can avoid phone calls and find other ways to deliver information to patients. Emails to schedule appointments and communicate surgical times are more effective and time-efficient.
2. Email patient education material. Patients research their diagnosis and procedures online, whether physicians tell them to or not. But orthopedic surgeons can point patients in toward reliable sources and send educational pamphlets via email.
3. Gather patient-reported outcomes electronically. Dr. Mandelbaum and his colleagues gather patient-reported outcomes with an SOS system allowing them to evaluate patients' reported outcomes and exchange information through the Cloud. "The technology is advanced and enhances our communication and relationship," he says. "We are able to build up checks and balances for the patient-centered approach."
4. Electronically sending images and postoperative information. Advanced imaging technology like the Synergy arthroscopic system allows surgeons to email images from surgery right after the procedure and include videos and pictures. "That's the start of any additional patient education and can prompt communication," says Dr. Mandelbaum. "My EMR system is sending these communications receiving outcomes surveys patients can fill out on their iPhone or iPad and answering quality of service questions as well as reporting patient satisfaction."
Surgeons are using these technologies to leverage their patient relationships outside of the office.
"This is a very dynamic time and I think there will be winners and losers in healthcare," Dr. Mandelbaum says. "The key is to remember the only constant in life is change. There is change from the physician's perspective right now and we have the opportunity to lead and develop innovative approaches to patient care."