There’s no doubt that technology has substantially altered the healthcare industry. Patients can now schedule appointments online, check in digitally before an appointment, access their health records and procure test results from a patient portal.
When healthcare technology is designed and utilized correctly, it can improve patient care, reduce medical errors and lower the cost of care. Providers can more easily communicate and connect with patients, collect accurate and complete data and boost patient satisfaction and loyalty. It even enables them to achieve these things despite being understaffed.
How do you know, though, how best to choose the services of a technology provider when there are so many options? They all tout their products as the best in the business.
The first step? Do. Your. Research. Don’t simply select the least expensive service provider because the cost of implementing a new technology tool might be less than the expense of keeping the status quo.
If you’re looking to invest in new technology to help build your practice and better service your patients, check out our list of the top five things to look for when evaluating new service providers.
1. Prioritize a Solid Reputation and Documented Experience
New technology vendors pop up seemingly as often as new car models are introduced. These new players might have the freshest new product out there — but not the experience. Only about half of new businesses make it past five years, and a mere one in three make it to the 10-year mark.
You want a technology partner with a good track record. How do you find that information? One way is by asking for testimonials. As any service provider, you’re seriously considering the names of a couple of clients and contacting them to learn about their experience with the company.
Or, check out reviews. Americans tell an average of nine people about a good experience, and roughly 30 percent share them on social media. Approximately 45 percent of customers share their bad experiences online.
Avoid working with technology vendors that won’t let you try out their system first or those who want your credit card before starting a trial. Request a demo, and take that service provider out of the running if they won’t give you one.
2. Demand Responsive and Reliable Client Support
Dealing with a business with bad customer service can be extremely frustrating, even if said company has a great product or service. You like to feel as a customer that you’re valued, not simply a number. Companies that don’t focus on customer service probably won’t stay in business very long, especially smaller enterprises.
Your communications technology vendor should proactively address issues that might negatively affect your practice and resolve critical issues as quickly as possible. Their product or service should be user-friendly enough that you can troubleshoot most issues without even having to contact customer support. Maintaining a vendor relationship shouldn’t take more and more of your resources.
3. Ensure HIPAA Compliance Through Partnership
As a healthcare provider, you know that under HIPAA, covered entities that create, receive or transmit protected health information (PHI) must comply with the Security Rule of HIPAA and its administrative, physical and technical safeguards. That can be challenging, especially for smaller physician practices. The result can be HIPAA violations, from a lack of encryption and getting hacked or phished to unauthorized access, loss or theft of devices and access of PHI from an unsecured location.
To keep your HIPAA data safe in the cloud and ensure compliance with specific regulations, you must fully understand how PHI and other data should be stored in the cloud and take necessary precautions. For example, the HITECH Act requires you to have a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) to manage the PHI chain of custody and clearly detail the roles and responsibilities of each party involved in the process.
Don’t assume that a vendor promoting HIPAA compliance is telling the truth — ask for actual proof in the form of a proper BAA or a second opinion. Although HIPAA violations aren’t always intentional, they can still be costly for healthcare providers and payers.
4. Optimize Your Workflow to Reduce Administrative Burden
As a healthcare provider, you have numerous responsibilities, not the least of which include administrative duties that detract from your ability to spend more time with your patients. Your staff often has to copy forms and scan patient charts, all of which adds to that administrative burden.
Employing poorly designed or outdated technology can result in inefficient workflows that cost your practice through unnecessary maintenance fees and an increased administrative burden. The best solutions provide clinicians and their staff with more efficient communication to improve the quality of care and decrease the risk of medical errors.
5. Choose Technology Built Specifically for Healthcare
Patients are a unique type of consumer, and meeting their needs is paramount for the healthcare industry. A failure to do so doesn’t only mean a negative experience, but it also has the potential to affect their health substantially.
Technology solutions used in healthcare should be built to meet patient needs. They also need to make it easy for you to do your job well. Each practice has its own goals, objectives and needs, and the right service providers will tailor their technology to meet those.
Interoperability, though sometimes difficult to achieve, is necessary for technology built for the healthcare industry. You need a solution that plays well with other systems, is easy to implement and grows with your practice.
Custom-made Practice Communications
The RingRx platform is designed to meet the needs of modern healthcare practices like yours. We aim to offer easy-to-use technology tools that enable providers of any size to better communicate with their patients.
Our HIPAA-compliant, cloud-based, enterprise-quality VoIP phone system can be tailored to meet your specific preferences and requirements. Schedule a complementary 14-day demo of RingRx to learn more about how our communication system can save you money while improving patient outcomes and streamlining your practice.