As people in the medical profession, we are constantly learning and evolving each day with more research and updates. With an ever increasing array of advanced techniques, research updates and health care options available, physicians face considerable competition. Gone are the days where a mere telephone book listing or hospital affiliation would be enough to sustain a strong patient base. Today’s physicians have to modify their thought process and keep themselves updated all the time. So, how does one keep abreast of all of this?

Updating oneself where learning is concerned depends solely on the requirement of the physician. In general, it is most effective to use practical and interactive methods over distance learning methods. One can have access to journals; online journals have the advantage of searching the entire archive rather than relying on one relevant article appearing in one issue. Textbooks are also an important learning tool but may not be as relevant or helpful as other more interactive and more practical methods. To upgrade one’s knowledge, it is important to attend short-term courses and conferences as well [1].

Physicians need to be adept at technology

It is important for today’s physician to be tech-savvy. One can connect with multiple patients at a go with the use of practice management software. With everything going digital these days, setting up a website for your clinic explaining the various services offered with a brief introduction about you and your specialisation is another important step towards opening the doors to a larger patient base and upgrading your medical practice.

If you don’t want to go through the hassle of setting up a website, you can just get listed for free on a doctor listing website. The more information about your practice you publish online, the more patients you will attract. Taking appointments, filling out forms and viewing test results can all be done online which will not only save a lot of time of your patients, but also reduce manual work for your staff. This will also allow your staff to focus on other important tasks. Through social media and feedback online, physicians can gain insight into what patients are willing to do to improve their health and what obstacles stand in their way [1].

Read more: 10 great gadgets for tech-savvy doctors

Begin with e-prescriptions

With the boon of technology at our disposal, there are various patient management software (read why doctors must use medical software) available which can be used efficiently to organize patient data and prescription records. Another way to upgrade would be to start with e-prescribing [2]. Paper prescriptions can get lost or misread. With electronic prescribing (e-prescribing), doctors communicate directly with the pharmacy. An e-prescription system can save lives (by reducing medication errors and checking for drug interactions), lower costs, and improve care. It is more convenient, cheaper for doctors and pharmacies, and safer for patients. In short, e-prescribing is an important, high-visibility component of progress in health information exchange. With the help of patient management software, one can maintain Electronic Health Records (EHRs) as well.

Where patient comfort and care are concerned, small changes can be made which can improve the overall patient experience. Try to keep waiting time as minimum as possible, if you are running behind schedule ensure that your staff calls and informs the patient. Some more tips to get started:

Offer reminder options, not just reminders

Patients have differing preferences for reminders —phone, email, or text . Reminders can cut no-shows and last-minute cancellations by 30-50 percent; so they are important to your bottom line [1, 2]. Appointments are more successful when patients choose their preferred method of contact.

Provide preventive care recalls

Run reports on patients who are due for preventive care like well-woman exams, well-child visits or vaccines. Then, follow up by email, mail or phone to get them scheduled. These visits improve their overall care and compliance while filling slots in your schedule.

Add on-going outreach communications

Engaging with patients through an email newsletter, a blog, and/or social media allows you to strengthen your relationship while also promoting new services or offering reminders for needed care.

Hiring and retaining the best healthcare professionals to make your practice successful is another important part of practice growth and upgradation. Patients want to see stability in the staff as they come to develop a healthy relationship and trust with their doctors. It is important to have a practice where you as a doctor can grow and make a difference in your patients’ lives as well.

Read more: Best practices in managing technology at your practice

Contributed by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD