When it comes to obtaining next-level efficiency in radiology workflows, some of the low-hanging fruit can be found in automating and streamlining one’s front-desk processes.  I don’t have to tell you that saving just 5 or 10 minutes per patient can mean hundreds of hours saved for the whole team.

Not only will your admin team thank you, but so will your practice’s bottom line.

Some of the top ways to streamline your Radiology Ordering and Scheduling processes in 2021 are by using a physician portal, interfacing with providers EMRs, using a rules-based, centralized scheduler, using an inbound electronic faxing service, automating your insurance verification, and allowing your patients to use a self-serve, virtual check-in.  Let’s take a look. 

1.  Use a Physician Portal or Interface with Referring EMRs

The best place to start looking for time savings in your workflow is before the patient is even in your system.  Entering orders and registering patients is time-consuming.  What if your ordering physician did that for you?

Why would they do that?  Because you made it easy for them by giving them access to a user-friendly physician portal.

Instead of typing up an order, printing it out, and then faxing it to you, now the ordering doctor simply types up the order and presses submit.  The order is then dropped automatically into your system ready to be scheduled.

Taking this a step further would be to interface directly with your ordering provider’s EMR, that way the physician can just click a button and send you an order without even having to open the portal.

Now, instead having your administrators read off a fax or manually type in an order over the phone, the detailed order is in your system ready to be dragged and dropped onto your schedule.

Let’s recap what we just accomplished.  By using a physician portal or interfacing directly with their EMR, you save the referring physician at least 3 steps and 5-10 minutes per patient, and you saved yourself 2 steps and about 5 minutes per patient. This is clearly a more efficient and productive use of your front office resources.

Using a Physician Portal or Direct EMR Interface

Ordering Physician Saves Imaging Facility Saves
3 steps
2 steps
5-10 minutes per patient
3-5 minutes per patient

This hasn’t even factored in the average benchmark for data entry error (generally acknowledged to be 1%)1.  Think of it, there were just over 650 million imaging procedures performed in 2019 in the US alone, if even 1% of those had data entry errors, you are looking at 6.5 million procedures and countless hours that go into correcting them.

2.  Use a Rules-based Scheduler

This won’t be the case for every practice, but there are several types of exams that will require your admins to schedule the same patient multiple times, or schedule multiple segments of a single procedure.  (We’re looking at you, nuclear medicine).  Having a rules-based scheduler can reduce the workload of your admin staff by automatically blocking out time for those other procedures all at once.  This type of automation could easily save 5-7 minutes per patient on complicated orders.

3.  Use an Electronic Inbound Fax

Even if you have the best physician’s portal in the world, some of your ordering sites will still send you faxes.  In fact, as of 2018, fax was still the primary ordering method in healthcare. In an article updated in 2018, one private firm estimated that fax still accounted for 75% of all medical communication.2 

Having faxes routed straight to your computer with inbound electronic faxing allows your front desk staff to skip all the blurry printouts, busy signals, and missing pages, and save a lot of time (and headaches).  In addition, these faxes can be easily imported into the patient record to keep a complete file.

4.  Automatic Insurance Verification

This technology isn’t new, but turn to your nearest admin who is in charge of insurance verification and ask them about their longest insurance call.  Your jaw might drop.

According to a recent MGMA analysis, it takes a medical practice an average of 12.63 minutes to verify someone’s insurance manually3.   While this seems a little high to us, I’m sure some of your admin colleagues could give you horror stories of much worse. 

Automatic insurance verification comes in many varieties.  medQ’s automatic insurance verification is integrated directly into the Q/ris 3000’s front desk workflow, so that with just one extra click you can save yourself at least 6 minutes. 

5.  Patient Portal and eCheck-in

People have never really wanted to wait around in a waiting room.  Let your patients skip the waiting room by using a patient portal with a virtual check-in feature. 

Using a virtual check-in like medQ’s Q/ris eCheck-in allows patients to confirm their appointments via automatic text, fill out pre-exam forms from home, take pictures of their insurance cards, get directions to the facility and notify the front desk staff of their arrival.

An eCheck-in module is not only convenient for your patients, but it also saves your front desk staff up to 10 minutes per patient by not having to print, scan, copy and process pre-exam paperwork with the patient in the waiting room.  That is being conservative.  Recent studies have put average wait times for specialists like radiologists at 18.3 minutes4  

 

A Quick Recap: Total Time Savings

So, by way of a quick summary, there is a lot of time to be saved by streamlining your front desk procedures.  For this breakdown we will be using the more conservative number of the given ranges above.

Feature Potential Time Savings per Patient
Physician Portal w/ EMR Interface
5 minutes
Rules-based Scheduling + eFax
5 minutes (and a lot less headache)
Automatic Insurance Verification
6 minutes (National Avg. = 12.63 minutes)
Patient Portal and eCheck-in
10 minutes

TOTAL

26 Minutes

Feature Potential Time Savings per Patient
Physician Portal w/ EMR Interface
5 minutes
Rules-based Scheduling + eFax
5 minutes (and a lot less headache)
Automatic Insurance Verification
6 minutes (National Avg. = 12.63 minutes)
Patient Portal and eCheck-in
10 minutes

TOTAL

26 Minutes

For those of us who prefer to think terms of FTEs, let’s take a generic practice that is open 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, and sees 50 patients per day.  At 50 patients a day, the practice would be saving themselves approx. 6,500 hours per year or 3.125 FTEs.

That is a lot of time saved.

Obviously, time savings will vary depending on your current technology stack and team setup, but it is easy to see that with just a few of these tools you could win you and your team hundreds of hours a year.  If you want to know how these numbers would stack up for your team, one of medQ’s workflow automation specialists would be happy to calculate your team’s specific time savings.  

Next Steps?

Making process changes aren’t always easy.  However, if you are looking for a single solution that has all of these tools as well as a host of other workflow automation tools for your admins, techs, and radiologists, then take a look at medQ’s Q/ris 3000 Enterprise Imaging Workflow.

We save hundreds of teams thousands of hours every year by automating their imaging workflows.  Don’t take my word for it. Get a Free Automation Potential Analysis with one of our workflow automation specialists and see if the numbers add up for yourself.

(An analysis can be as short as 15 minutes)

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