Why Medical Practices Struggle To Grow (and How To Fix It)

Growing your medical practice isn’t easy. More than most industries, it can be extremely difficult to drive change in healthcare. There are so many moving pieces operating independently of one another that it can be a slow and burdensome process. If you’ve attempted to innovate and grow your medical practice, you’ve likely experienced this for yourself.

Barriers to growing your practice include:

  • Internal fragmentation
  • Too many voices at the table
  • Competing opinions
  • Outdated legacy software

Fortunately, platforms built for healthcare can empower your team to deliver patient-centered care. First, let’s take a look at the reasons practices struggle to grow and how those problems can be addressed.

Why medical practices struggle to grow

The most straightforward reason medical practices struggle to grow is that they are unprepared and under-equipped to take on higher patient volumes. Because many practices are still implementing emerging technology such as telehealth and remote patient monitoring (RPM), they often lack the tools they need to withstand new scheduling burdens and organizational requirements.

Instead, care teams are left to scrape together their own platforms and tools. They may attempt to use CRMs that were built as a one-size-fits-all solution, not specific to healthcare. Or they implement EMRs or EHRs that promise other benefits, such as billing, but aren’t built to streamline Care Management. Many clinicians wind up using tools that don’t integrate with one another or worse — are trying to track things manually on physical paper or in Microsoft Excel. This sort of disjointed system makes it far too easy for patients and their data to fall through the cracks.

The quality of your care team’s work is the end-all-be-all of the patient experience. It’s the central hub through which your patient’s care activities flow. The care team provides support and guidance to patients based on diagnosis, tracks treatment preferences, and prescribes care plans.

A properly equipped care team will:

  • Provide above-standard care delivery
  • Address patient confusion over diagnoses, conditions, and treatments
  • Minimize burnout among providers
  • Optimize care plan implementation procedures
  • Coordinate care with other care teams.

When Care Management is disjointed, care teams cannot meet patient needs in a timely or effective manner. Sometimes this is the result of ineffective care team training. Other times, it’s because the practice hasn’t implemented standard procedures or lacks the information technology required to track important metrics. But often, it can be the result of care teams that are isolated by specialty — making collaboration between multidisciplinary teams difficult.

Patients don’t stay engaged

Patient engagement is one of the most critical factors in a growing care team’s ability to establish trusting clinician-patient relationships. Successful patient engagement requires supportive and open-minded clinicians in conjunction with patients who are empowered to stay activated in their own health.

Patient engagement is the decision-making collaboration between clinicians, patients, their families, and their support systems. Successful engagement allows all of these elements to come together and make care plan decisions that lead to tangible, positive outcomes.

When patient engagement falters in healthcare environments, it’s often the result of a communication breakdown. Here are some of the roadblocks on the path to patient engagement.

Tech Usability: Usability remains an issue for population health. If patients find portals, apps, wearables, or other health tech cumbersome, their levels of patient engagement plummet.

Literacy: In low-income communities, low literacy levels can be a barrier to patient engagement. Without the ability to read or understand medical terms, many health IT tools may be rendered ineffective for patients, and ultimately, their healthcare providers.

Cognitive Issues: Patients with cognitive issues may need more support to make decisions or manage their health.

Diverse Backgrounds: The Patient Advocate Foundation found that patient engagement can be greatly affected by cultural background, sex, age, education, religion, and other patient care variables. Healthcare providers may require additional training to properly teach health literacy.

Engaged patients keep their appointments, are equal partners in the management of their health, and follow through with treatment plans, resulting in reduced costs and reduced ER utilization.

Growing medical practices don’t have tools to gain insight into patient engagement

In this era, data is everything. Care Management teams need metrics to analyze the quality of patient care to track emerging trends. Among the most important healthcare data is the patient-reported outcome, which can help encourage teams to focus on improving the patient’s quality of life instead of operating in the status quo.

Often, when providers struggle to scale their practices, they are limited in terms of access to big-picture metrics. They have neither the access to data nor the tools (such as remote monitoring technology) to track patient health across the care continuum.

Additionally, insight into social determinants of health is limited in many healthcare practices. Research from the University of California, San Francisco, has shown that around 80% of patient care outcomes are impacted by the social determinants of health. This data can help providers track patients that are likely to fall through the cracks, preventing excess cost and staffing in the long run.

How to grow your medical practice and serve more patients more effectively

You may have begun to connect the dots already — successfully scaling your medical practice means enabling your Care Management team to operate in an organized and efficient fashion, maintaining patient engagement as the number of patients grows.

Team-first care delivery

The modern care team doesn’t work in a bubble. It collaborates with an entire village to provide patient care. Team-first care delivery empowers Care Management teams with the tools and processes they need to support patients on their health journey.

Effective Care Management platforms enable medical practice growth by preventing time waste and assigning appropriate team members to address patient needs at the times they’re most needed.

When your team’s time is managed properly, they’re able to clearly recognize and address necessary tasks and patients who need their support. This clarity of mission will minimize the risk of patients falling through the cracks.

Employ automated workflows

Automated workflows boost efficiency by seamlessly and intelligently transitioning patients through their care plan at the pace that best suits them. Effective automation helps eliminate a wealth of administrative tasks that care team members have to juggle alongside caring for patients. By implementing automation, fewer mistakes are made, burnout is reduced, and clinicians are freed to devote themselves to their work.

Any automated workflow should follow 6 essential steps:

  1. Identification: Patients are qualified and enrolled for care. A patient profile is created to track communication and care preferences, and a team member is assigned to the patient.
  2. Assessment: The automated workflow should help clinicians define problems and risks as well as establish care program goals.
  3. Enrollment: Patients should automatically be enrolled in the necessary care program, and a care plan should automatically be submitted to the assigned care team so that the plan may be reviewed. A start date/first appointment should be established, and reminders scheduled.
  4. Care Delivery: Welkin manages communication with the patient, sets up tasks, sends reminders and automated follow-ups, schedules scoring assessments, and analyzes results and outcomes.
  5. Course Correction: Automated workflows will help keep the patient on track with the care program by providing alerts, notifications, and tasks. It also identifies gaps in care and promptly notifies patients and clinicians when the program’s parameters have not been followed. A detailed home page allows clinicians to see escalations and other important patient needs.
  6. Conclusion and/or Maintenance: The patient completes a final assessment, and then analytics and trends are evaluated. If the patient requires additional maintenance, scheduling is provided.

Centralized communications

Frequent communication and regular check-ins are critical to managing patient care. This communication can come through a variety of channels — some patients prefer to text and rarely (if ever) answer phone calls, while others are easiest to reach via email.

By centralizing your communication through one apparatus, clinicians can be sure they won’t miss a single message. Any communication centralization program should integrate:

  • Email
  • Phone
  • Telehealth
  • SMS
  • Chat
  • Fax

Allowing patients to communicate on the channel most accessible to them enables them to reach out to the care team to get care when and where they need it.

Built-in integrations

In the healthcare industry, customizability is crucial to treating a diverse array of conditions and addressing a wide array of business needs. Organizational platforms for care team management should integrate several standard features (alongside an accessible and well-documented API so you can tailor the platform to your needs). Leading platform integrations include:

  • eSign integrations for secure document signing
  • Integrations that validate medications
  • Electronic prescription integrations
  • HIPAA-compliant telehealth solutions
  • Billing with codified reference data to support the billing process
  • Analytics allowing you to build and view your own dashboards and reports
  • Appointment scheduling that works with your team’s calendar providers.
  • Lab ordering built directly into patient workflows

Codeless care program design

The last thing your care team needs is to wait on a developer, engineer, or specialist to design a custom workflow. Using a program with codeless customization enables your team to easily modify their own workflows in a program editor that is designed specifically to allow customization without coding knowledge or hassle. Simply use the drag-and-drop setup to arrange a wide variety of templates, guides, and content.

Secure system

Your patients trust you with their most personal information. Data protection is one of the most important security concerns in the healthcare space. Your Care Management program should employ technical, administrative, and physical safeguards to keep this information defended.

Welkin’s protections include a secure SOC 2 Type II Certification that undergoes annual third-party examination to protect the availability and confidentiality of customer data. It also allows HIPAA-covered entities to use its secure environment to process, maintain, and archive protected health information.

360-degree view of patients

When working with an array of patients, clinicians need a multidimensional view of patient data available quickly and easily. A good Care Management solution will allow you to create a dashboard that instantly highlights the items that need your attention on a daily basis. This allows you to more effectively plan your day and provide your patients with thoughtful care.

Request a demo of Welkin and take the first steps to grow your practice

Help your practice grow by optimizing Care Management and communication. Welkin will help you develop better patient relationships, more efficient internal procedures, and more flexible healthcare plans. Visit our website to request a demo today.

Make your program more care-centric today.

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