The Call for New Holistic Practice Tools
We often get new patient phone calls asking "Do you take xxx insurance?" or " How much do you charge per session?" This mindset is seemingly normal as we shop around for commodity consumer goods or services, less out of pocket expense, acceptable quality. Does it work for the aspects we cherish most, that is our health?
What we love to hear from patients are their health issues, what they have tried before, what have worked or not working. Only when the patients trust us as a team, we can start the real conversation and strive to deliver best results.
The magic is all in the angle of light you shine through, the mindset shifting.
From the planned task of transitioning to an electronic practice management system, I found myself evaluating a dozen of leading software solutions from friends' recommendation and web reviews. Most features one can think of, some company already built it, just the level of details and emphasizes all differ. I thought I can make decision in one week, but it has been dragging on from 2 weeks to 3 weeks.
Some software designed to rely on clearinghouse software like OfficeAlly, or sync with other Calendars, the rest of core functions like patient intake and communication, billing, practice monitoring are not designed for interchangeable or plug-ins. Even if you could shop for 2 tools, you can't easily plug them together. I started like the monkey in the corn field, got one in the hand, compared with another, put down one, found another one bigger, but more expensive. What to bring home now, haha!
This is the initial note I drew just like any software comparison site, shopping for features:
|Scheduling||some minor issues||+mobile|
Payment / invoice
|internal or OfficeAlly||
|Charting||initially for MDs, advanced note designer||initially for dietitians||initially for chiropractors||initially for therapists||TCM specific|
|Inventory mgmt||Y||Coming||N||Herbal specific|
|$/mo for 2 providers||$265||$349-499 *2||$199 (10% off annually) + $70||$129 + $70||$98 + $.25/claim||$99 *1.5 (20% off annually) + $70|
Now I would think about it from users' point of view:
|Interaction with office||Ideal Tool Support||Office Staff||Providers|
|I. Pay-per-visit patients||scheduler / SMS||answer calls||treatment|
|II. Long term care patients||patient portal / chat / email||some monitoring||programs, coaching|
|III. Remote patients (I or II subset)||patient portal / chat||order fulfillment||virtual sessions|
|V. General online audience||could be general CRM tools||webinars / online programs|
This year since COVID, acupuncture clinics rely heavily on pay-per-visit model would see slow down to different degrees. It calls for us holistic practitioners to rethink patient care and promote deep connections to patients unlike before. Herbs, exercises, acupressure, are all available means to do remotely. All software added some telemedicine feature since March this year. But still some limitations are from "conventional" clinic visit, clients/patients have to be in one group only (not tags), every flow has to start from booking the calendar. I definitely got used to working from a chat based (information flow/timeline based) task list for remote patients. Even the youngest product on my list, Healthie, is half getting there, and rank last on EHR side.
In summary, we need to expand the "single-visit" billing cycle view, emphasize building the patient connection from onboarding and give the treatment plan more structure from the top level in the tools.