A recent lead story in the Wall Street Journal featured an article on “micropractices.” These are solo physicians who operate without any staff and rely on technology to provide the support work. The principal example was a physician who worked for a medical group owned by the Rocherster, NY Highland General Hospital. When they asked the physicians to increase the number of visits per day to 32 from 28, he quit – and rightfully so. 28 is high – 32 is over the top. The problem clearly was in the inherent inefficiency and management incompetence of the owners. But I digress.
Among the technology based tools used are several that can readily be adopted by “regular” practices. One is How’s Your Health, a web based health survey that patients complete and give to their physician. Practices and businesses can arrange to sponsor and customize the product; otherwise, use is free, Developed and overseen by the Dartmouth Medical School, this could be a good tool for starting an office visit. Patients can fill it out in advance, or you can set up a station in your reception area for patients to fill it out in your office.
There are several related tools available on the Idealmicropractice site. Go directly to “Cool Tools.” These kinds of health surveys are a means of capturing where a patient feels they are as they come for their office visit.
In an unhurried setting, you have a better shot at getting better answers. You want to know what the patient is concerned about, but at the same time want to try to capture issues that you can help the patient identify and work on for their own health, whether blood pressure, weight, stress and so on. By capturing data in advance, you can reduce some of the information gathering time in the exam room and devote the time to action.
I would be very interested in hearing how any of these work for you. Share with me using the “comments” tab below or e-mail me directly at “firstname.lastname@example.org”.