Let’s Talk about Excellence!
At Prime Care Family Practice of Prince George, Virginia, things were going well. Having worked with eClinicalWorks since 2012, the practice had an excellent healthcare IT partner. Providers were seeing 600 patients each week. The phones were busy.
But early in 2016, Dr. Amar Shah recognized a serious deficiency in his Patient Engagement strategy: It was all about the telephone.
Telephones are great, but if they are the primary or sole method patients use to reach their providers, access to healthcare can suffer, along with patient satisfaction.
As Dr. Shah said during an eCW Podcast at the 2017 National Conference in Dallas: “We had complaints from our front desk, from our medical assistants, from our providers, and obviously the patients, that we were just not readily accessible.”
Bringing in healow PRM Services
So, Prime Care took a new approach. At the 2016 National Conference in Orlando, they had met with the healow Patient Relationship Management (PRM) Services team, and immediately realized the value of on-site marketing and training in Patient Engagement.
They enabled Patient Portal to give their patients a new way to request appointments, see lab results, and exchange messages with their doctors. They ordered posters and buttons. They had the PRM Services team visit and meet with providers, staff, and patients. And they took time to talk to each patient about getting set up for online access to medical information.
“We had banners placed in the waiting room about the healow app,” Dr. Shah said. “We also had strategic posters placed in the bathrooms and high-traffic areas in the office. And then we had trifolds that were handed out to patients at the front desk and at each provider’s pod.”
The power of speech
The healow PRM Services team members made clear that technology and marketing materials alone are not enough. To achieve excellence, you have to literally talk about what you have to offer. That direct, person-to-person approach builds trust and fosters understanding in ways that instruction manuals and online directions cannot match.
“It had to be an active effort of talking about it,” Dr. Shah said, “telling them why it was important, and getting them signed on before they left the office.”
Prime Care’s patients have responded well.
“I was happy to learn shortly after we came here that we had the Portal available to us, and it’s been constantly evolving, and we enjoy using it. Being able to go on the computer and find out just what you’re going to be talking to the doctor about with some intelligence makes a big difference. And it’s easy to refill prescriptions just off the computer. It’s great. Everybody should be using it.”
Wayne Stefaniak – Patient at Prime Care Family Practice
Taming the phones
“The main thing was that we drove messages and prescription refills,” Dr. Shah said. “That was a focus of ours, because our phone lines were just inundated with messages.”
By targeting those two areas, Prime Care Family Practice saw 7,000 fewer phone calls in one year.
In addition, Prime Care used Messenger campaigns to issue 800 flu shot reminders: 97% were received and read, and about 60% of patients who received a reminder scheduled their shot. And more than 25% of Prime Care’s patients are now using the healow app.
Those numbers translate directly into healthier patient populations and improved metrics for the practice. PRM Services, Dr. Shah said, has helped Prime Care Family Practice become one of the top performers in its Clinically Integrated Network, Virginia Care Partners.
Reducing the risk of burnout
Dr. Shah said that Prime Care Family Practice has also benefitted from hiring scribes, whose ability to handle data entry duties is saving each provider about four hours of work each week, helping reduce the risk of physician burnout.
Nurses, he said, have 40% fewer messages to deal with, and at least a quarter of the practice's patients are using Patient Portal, which takes a lot of pressure off front-office staff. In fact, the front desk handled 10,000 fewer phone calls last year because patients now have better ways to communicate online.
Truly team-based care
The overall impact of PRM Services on Prime Care Family Practice is now clear: There is now a stronger, team-based approach to care.
“Now, all nurses and all medical assistants and all front desk are involved in the preventive health services of the practice and providers can really focus on the true medical needs of the patients for that day.”
Dr. Amar R. Shah – Prime Care Family Practice
Prime Care’s future, Dr. Shah said, is really about making healthcare ever more accessible to patients by breaking down remaining barriers to care. The practice has adopted healow Open Access® appointment booking to let patients book their own appointments online. They are using healow TeleVisits to accommodate patients who need a quick or routine consultation but cannot come to the office.
Dr. Shah acknowledges that developing new workflows takes effort and training throughout the organization. But with the help of eClinicalWorks and healow PRM Services, he said, Prime Care is better prepared to deliver quality healthcare now and meet the healthcare challenges of the future.