How technology can boost your efficiency

Sometimes as doctors, we are the cause of bottlenecks in our own medical offices. After all, we only have 24 hours in a day, and the number of patients we can see, examine, and talk to is going to be limited.

Aniruddha Malpani, MD“When used strategically, technology can help to amplify a doctor’s efficiency and effectiveness.”
-Aniruddha Malpani, MD, medical director of Malpani Infertility Clinic in Mumbai, India

One way that we have traditionally amped up our efficiency is by employing other clinicians—for example, physician assistants or junior doctors—who can help use see a higher volume of patients by assisting with tasks such as taking a history or doing the initial examination.

Today, one of the best ways that we can increase our efficiency and efficacy is by using technological tools. An extremely good example of this is the intelligent use of patient education videos that can be used to counsel patients while also ensuring that patients provide informed consent prior to surgery or medical procedures.

Key Point: Using patient education videos and other multimedia tools is an excellent way to improve the efficiency of your operations while also enhancing the patient experience. These tools ensure that patients receive consistent, high quality information about their diseases or conditions, and the time that you spend with them afterwards is more focused and productive.

Consistent messaging

Conveying complex information to patient after patient is not something that a lot of doctors are good at, or that we necessarily enjoy. It’s easy for this part of our day to become repetitive, monotonous, and time-consuming. While communicating this information to patients is clearly important, if there were another way to educate them that would free up our time to focus on other tasks, most of us would like that idea.

Luckily, there actually is an excellent way to do just that. Cleverly crafted audiovisual tools can ensure that we clearly communicate the information that our patients need, without having to spend that time personally with each patient. You can do this by using interactive services such as[s2If !is_user_logged_in()]…

[/s2If][s2If is_user_logged_in()] virtual coaches or through health games, which patients can also share with friends and family members.

Not only will this approach increase your efficiency and productivity by freeing up a large amount of time, it also will ensure that the information that is provided is consistent and of high quality. Equally importantly, showing patients videos or using other customized audiovisual tools and asking them to sign a verification form allows you to document the fact that you have provided the information.

This high-quality information—which is complete, comprehensive, and based on sound medical principles—can be provided to all of your patients diagnosed with various medical diseases and conditions through a library of patient education videos that you create or purchase. That way, you no longer act as a bottleneck, and you can use the time that you free up to focus on other clinical and operational tasks. When used strategically, technology can help to amplify a doctor’s efficiency and effectiveness.

The trick to successfully executing this strategy is to invest the time and effort needed on the front end to create or procure high-quality patient education videos and other multimedia. While this investment can be costly and time consuming on the front end, once the materials have been created or procured, they can be used multiple times.

High-tech, high-touch care

There is no question that technology can be a double-edged sword. Technology can cause healthcare to become depersonalized—for example, when doctors pay more attention to their electronic health record system than they do examining or talking to the patient.

However, when you combine high-quality clinical treatment with high-tech tools while also letting patients know that you care about them, you can increase efficiency while also delivering optimal care. The result is satisfied patients who experience the best possible treatment outcomes.

Not only can technology save a lot of time for the doctor, it also increases the likelihood that the patient will absorb and retains the information, because audiovisual formats are memorable and interactive. Once the patient has viewed the educational materials, the doctor-patient conversation can proceed at a more highly evolved plane, because the patient already knows the basics and can now focus only on the points that are of special concern to him or her. This type of intelligent use of technology increases patient satisfaction—and the doctor’s professional satisfaction as well.

Some doctors are worried that the use of technology will cause medical care to become depersonalized. Sadly, it’s true that some doctors spend more time looking at the computer screen and entering data into the electronic health record than talking to the patient. Part of this may just be transitional, as the doctor becomes acclimated to a new system. A well-designed electronic health record system should allow the doctor to look at the patient, talk to the patient, examine the patient, and then record his or her findings.

We need to continue to develop high-tech tools that we can use intelligently and judiciously to increase efficiency, improve our job satisfaction, and enhance the patient experience. High-tech tools should complement and enhance the care that we are providing, rather than replace it. Patient education videos and other multimedia tools are an excellent place to start. You will start to see the benefits almost immediately, and so will your patients.

Aniruddha Malpani, MD Dr. Malpani is medical director of Malpani Infertility Clinic in Mumbai, India, medical director of the HELP-Health Education Library for People, and author of a physician and patient education blog. He is an angel investor in Plus 91, which offers customized Web sites for doctors.


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One Comment

  1. teja chandra gudivada
    Posted Aug 2014 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    Yeah very good article..i am trying to implement this concept of audio visual aids as most of my patients are illiterate and very difficult to explain the condition and it’s complications

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