PathologyWatch Makes Your Dermpath Workflow Easy as Pie

The healthcare industry is busier than ever. While patients are grateful for quality dermatology care, staying competitive in the marketplace can be challenging for those just starting out or looking to expand their practice.

Here are three ways PathologyWatch can streamline your dermpath workflow to be easy as pie:

Ensure Tantalizing Turnaround Times on Lab Results
Patient satisfaction and health outcomes can be impacted by long turnaround times, mainly when a patient’s condition requires a quick response to starting treatment. If this is a new practice, a great way to reduce overhead expenses without compromising accuracy or quality patient care is to partner with a digital pathology service provider.

There are at least two benefits of this partnership. First, studies show that using a lab with experience in digital pathology to read slides improves your chances of receiving a result within 48 hours. The most important asset you can share with your patients after their examination or procedure is information. When you have a solid partnership with an experienced lab, tracking the status of samples and obtaining results quickly is meaningful to patients.

Second, since slides are digitized, they can be shared among experts. Best of all, your patient will display an attitude of gratitude as they view their results and discuss treatment options with a better understanding of their case.

Serve up an EMR Interface
Studies show that three out of five dermatologists have already adopted EMR technology, a logical choice for a busy dermatology office. “When a dermatology practice sees 40–50 patients per day, relying on paper to manage the workflow can create inefficiencies and impact the time to deliver results to patients,” explains April Larson, MD.

But not all EMR technology performs the same or cooperates with other systems. “To move beyond the challenges of paper, dermatopathology lab services like PathlogyWatch can build an HL7 interface directly to the dermatology clinic’s EMR to optimize margins of error and turnaround times, preserving precious staff and provider time,” adds Larson.

PathologyWatch utilizes an HL7 interface, enabling the lab to quickly send reports directly to your EMR of choice. In some instances, it populates a patient’s diagnosis and treatment details. This means all of the patient’s information is centralized and easily accessible. “The adoption of technology can save the staff from menial, time-consuming tasks and allow them to participate more in patient care, which increases both staff and patient satisfaction,” says Larson.

Provide support a la mode
Every system has hiccups and challenges. Find a lab with friendly staff members who are responsive to patient billing issues, technical problems, or just general questions. This makes it easy and comfortable when your staff unavoidably will need to reach out for help with patient care in the dermatopathology arena. This is especially important because your team often takes the heat from unhappy patients, so it helps when your ancillary partners are eager to help and relieve those burdens.

Running a dermatology practice is an incredibly rewarding experience. By finding supportive partners, updating medical records processes that streamline work, and partnering with innovative services that offer both accurate and speedy results for patients, your dermpath workflow will be the icing on the “pie.”

Bad Online Review? Four Ways to Convert Patient Criticism into an Opportunity

Negative Online Review

Example of a bad online review.

Pretty harsh, isn’t it? Although this review isn’t referring to any of our medical clients, it illustrates the daily challenges healthcare providers face in the digital space.

Online patient reviews can either make or break a dermatology clinic’s reputation and practice. According to the Pew Research Center, 77 percent of consumers say they use online reviews as the first step in finding a new physician. During that search, studies found that only 14 percent of consumers would consider using a business with a one- or two-star rating.

In other words, online reviews are a big deal. A study by Dimensional Research found that 90 percent of people who read online reviews admitted their buying decisions are influenced by positive reviews. And 86 percent said their decisions are impacted by negative online reviews. 

How does that affect a business, lab, or dermatology clinic? A Moz study found that a business will lose about 22 percent of potential customers from one negative online review that appears in an online search. Two negative search results can double the loss of potential customers. “Have four or more negative articles about your company or product appearing in Google search results? You’re likely to lose 70% of potential customers,” says Dan Hinckley at Moz. 

Be proactive in protecting your brand. When negative reviews appear online, don’t ignore them. Instead, take it as an opportunity to show you care about your patients. Here are four ways to do so. 

1. Invest in reputation management.

Most doctors don’t invest much time in reputation management or tracking online reviews or searches, but they should. Here’s why: 

Improved SEO. Search engines prioritize sites that have frequently updated, relevant, and uniquely worded content. This means your online reviews (both good and bad), engagement, and comments can also improve search results. So encourage your patients to share their experience online and be engaged with a response. 

Credibility. We want to project a positive image, and tracking online reviews is a great way to ensure you are connecting with your patients. But a smattering of negative reviews—and how you respond to them—can actually help build credibility in your practice. Studies show that 85 percent of users trust online reviews as much as they trust personal recommendations. By welcoming feedback and creating an online “community” through comments, you are building a trustworthy and credible brand. 

“Online reviews matter,” explains Inc.com contributor Craig Bloem. “And that’s why you need to create and maintain a process that encourages your customers to leave reviews, monitors the reviews they leave, and improves any negative reviews you might receive.”

2. Determine if the response should be public or private.

As shown in the above example, a patient will use an online platform to vent frustrations for a variety of reasons. The important thing is to offer a public apology. “Remember, while you are exchanging messages with the reviewer, other people are reading your comments and wondering whether or not to visit your practice,” explain the staff at My Practice Reputation. 

Your medical practice can fall victim to any number of criticisms: “The parking was bad.” “Your office was hard to find.” “The waiting room was too noisy.” In those cases, a public apology and a reassurance that your patients experience at your office is a priority can be handled online. But if the reviewer is referring to the care he or she received—regardless of whether or not you feel the complaints are legitimate—you’ll want to be more discrete. Extend a public apology, reiterate how important it is for your team to deliver excellent patient care and that you welcome feedback, and invite the reviewer to reach out to your office to discuss what happened.

3. Keep the conversation solution-oriented.

If the patient contacts your office, quickly pull the file and review what happened from the patient’s perspective. Then put your office to the test: How was the patient greeted? Did the office staff use discretion when verifying personal information? How was the exchange between the doctor and patient? Why did the patient leave feeling frustrated? If possible, encourage the patient to describe his or her experience to uncover the breakdown in the situation. Then ask the patient what you and your staff could have done better.

“Most patients who leave negative reviews just want to feel heard,” says Erin Kitchen at Medical Economics. “You can even gain real insight and grow from their feedback!” For example, use feedback to improve office processes. Or allow more time between appointments to ensure patients have plenty of time to ask questions. 

Don’t ask the patient to remove the negative review. In some cases, the patient will volunteer to remove the negative review or add a follow-up post that the situation was resolved.

4. Consider legal help for extreme cases.

Fake reviews happen. That’s why safeguarding your online reputation is essential. If you discover the online review was posted by an aggressive competitor, for example, or by people who aren’t verifiable patients but post defamatory comments or reviews, you can demand the reviewer remove the post. 

Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, some situations can’t be resolved without involving legal support. In those cases when an online reviewer refuses to take down a false review post, legal experts suggest taking the information you have about the online reviewer and consulting with an attorney. The attorney will send a letter alerting the reviewer of legal action should he or she refuse to take down the posted review. As a final resort, your attorney can notify the website, website host, owner, and internet service provider. 

Keep in mind that the process of working with a legal team or the online platform can be slow. For quicker results, continue encouraging patients to share positive (and recent) reviews about your patient care and leverage that positive feedback. 

Online patient reviews can literally change the way customers view your dermatology practice. By figuring reputation management into your marketing efforts and treating a negative review as a marketing opportunity, you can tap into valuable insights on ways to better connect with potential customers and offer the best patient care possible.

Maximize Your Staff’s Time to Work Smarter, Not Harder

As medical reimbursement continues to fluctuate, practicing smarter instead of harder or longer becomes even more critical for dermatologists. Running a thriving dermatology practice demands that business owners continually examine ways to increase staff efficiency and maintain patient satisfaction. The average staff-to-dermatologist FTE ratio is between 5:1 and 6:1—but, when they are seeing 40 to 50 patients a day, dermatologists still often take work home with them.

Meanwhile, a recent study indicates that only 30 percent of Gen X dermatology patients are “completely satisfied” with their provider. By cross-training your staff, maximizing your EMR, being prepared, and partnering with the right dermatopathology lab, you can discover ways to maximize your staff’s time to work smarter while maintaining or improving patient satisfaction.

Cross-Train Your Staff

Traditionally, clinic staffing has included front-office staff focused on checking patients in and out of the clinic, collecting payments, and scheduling appointments. Selecting composed and capable individuals to fill these positions is critical since customer service is the source of over 95 percent of patient complaints. Medical assistants and back-office personnel are trained to assist in patient rooms, handle clinical questions, call back biopsy and lab results, and manage clinical supplies.

However, many clinics now find it more useful to train staff to perform both front- and back-office tasks. That way, if someone is out sick, needs to take time off, or requires a helping hand, any staff member can step in to assist. Some clinics have a dedicated float person who can call in prescriptions, answer phones to schedule appointments, or triage patient questions. Having someone who is clinically savvy cover the front desk can increase efficiency by knowing when to add or overbook patients without requiring other staff or the physicians to make the right call.

Maximize Your EMR

It can be hard to invest the extra time setting up an EMR effectively with templates and favorites with a busy schedule. Since up to 80 percent of dermatologists use EMR systems, talk to colleagues to get their suggestions. While you’re at it, see if they have any electronic templates or lists of commonly used medications that your staff can enter as favorites. If no one you know is using an EMR, try joining a dermatology Facebook group—such as The Board Certified Dermatologists or Business of Dermatology—where you can ask questions or search old posts.

Some clinics have both a dedicated scribe and medical assistant in the room during patient visits. This way, the scribe can accurately document the appointment, allowing you to bill appropriately for the service level. Meanwhile, the MA can make biopsy preparations, take photographs, or fill out paperwork for you. Consider having staff start patient notes before the patient arrives so they can ask directed follow-up questions and give a more useful summary before you see the patient.

Some EMRs now offer the ability to print requisitions and labels. Taking advantage of this feature can save staff from handwriting forms and labels, which is slow and prone to error.

Time invested up front can save hours of time for the clinical staff, who have to do less manual input and can spend more time counseling the patient than charting. Suppose your templates or patient handouts contain all the prompts for counseling. In that case, the MA has a template to follow, so patients consistently receive all necessary information instead of relying on their memory to counsel them. By allowing them this one-on-one time with patients, medical assistants often find more meaning in their job and create better relationships with them, leaving you time to catch up on notes or fit in an urgent visit.

Be Prepared

If a patient needs a biopsy, rescheduling the patient will cost staff time setting up a new appointment, checking in again, and rooming the patient. With no-show rates as high as 30 percent in the United States, it’s essential to promptly ensure your patients receive the care they require. 

Suppose your biopsy tray is already set up and ready for a shave biopsy, with appropriate tools and paperwork ready to go. In that case, you can perform the biopsy while the patient is already in the room and disrobed. Consider having your rooms organized with easily accessible supplies grouped by types of procedures. If appropriate, preprinted patient labels can help save time during a busy clinic. You can also slap a label on patient paperwork rather than handwriting the label.

Having tear-off sheets printed for follow-up appointments or frequently recommended over-the-counter treatments can also save staff time and money. Printing in bulk at your local copy store or an online resource can help you save on supply costs like paper and ink, preserve staff time, and become more organized with frequently used handouts at your disposal.

Find the Right Dermatopathology Lab

Fast turnaround times combined with quality reporting will save you and your staff time. Receiving timely reports helps patients get results and treatments more quickly, decreasing patient calls and increasing patient satisfaction by up to 8 percent.

Partnering with a lab that offers an EMR interface speeds up the process even more. Reports automatically interface with the specific patient’s chart, eliminating the need to scan in paper faxes or sort through pages of e-faxes, providing the staff time to address other tasks. Providers can review photographs and results simultaneously and process clinical decisions more quickly.

In addition, having access to your digital biopsy slides can improve your clinicopathologic correlation on the case and result in the most appropriate clinical diagnosis and subsequent treatment.* It also allows the dermatologist to review the slide in real-time with the dermatopathologist. When needed, expert consults can be processed in-network, saving time in the long run by delivering precise diagnoses and reduced billing issues. Also, by allowing your dermatopathologist to contact you directly, they can more easily reach out when additional correlation is needed on a case or notify you about melanoma diagnoses.

With 12 million skin lesions biopsied in the United States every year, the demand has never been greater for labs to demonstrate competence and value to the dermatologists they serve. Joining forces with a full-service dermpath lab like PathologyWatch provides all these benefits by giving quality reporting, fast turnaround times, digital access to your slides, and clinicians who care about each case.

Increasing staff efficiency while maintaining patient satisfaction is key to the long-term success of dermatologists. Take proactive measures to cross-train your staff, make full use of your EMR, prepare for every case, and partner with a capable dermatopathology lab to maximize your staff’s time and get the most productivity out of your clinic. 

*Images are not intended to be used for the diagnosis or treatment of a disease or condition.

Dan Lambert Shares How the Pandemic Has Upset Healthcare and Five Ways to Fix It

In a new article published by Forbes, Dan Lambert, CEO of PathologyWatch, examines how the pandemic is causing harm to particular functions of the healthcare industry.

While COVID-19 will have a long-lasting physical and economic impact worldwide, it has also exposed some troubling problems within the healthcare community. These include steep financial challenges facing hospitals and private practices, patients delaying medical procedures, overlooking pre-existing healthcare industry concerns, and bottlenecks in pathology lab workflow.

Dan explains, “When a pathology lab delays processing skin specimens or other biopsies to focus on COVID-19 cases, it unintentionally increases the patient’s level of risk.” He adds, “Some estimates claim these coronavirus postponements will lead to over 10,000 cancer fatalities in the next decade. By reducing the wait time for day-to-day lab results today, we can save lives tomorrow.”

Dan also shares five action items that could help the healthcare industry improve the situation before it’s too late. These include telehealth adoption, hospital bailouts, digital data transfer, alternative insurance options, and academic standards.

To read the full Forbes article, click here.

Dan Lambert, CEO of PathologyWatch, Is Featured on Forbes 

Dan Lambert, CEO of PathologyWatch and a new contributor for Forbes YEC, recently shared his experiences and recommendations to help businesses brave the coronavirus pandemic.

Launching a new venture often has its challenges. Still, with the onset of COVID-19 and the economic downturn that followed, Dan and cofounders Greg Osmond, MD, and Michael Torno responded to these uncertain times with a plan that helped these seasoned entrepreneurs measure the severity and duration of this impact and leverage their expertise to navigate the situation best.

“Scenario analysis helped us understand how severe the impact would be and how long we could sustain at current levels of operation,” Dan explained. “If the downturn is short, you might need more of a scalpel than a buzz saw. Once the scope of the impact is identified, there are a few tools you can employ.”

In this article, Dan shares 11 ways to best finance your business in a downturn and develop a company framework that supports your company’s strategy that leads to better decision making and business success. Read about ways Dan analyzes assets, credit options, and sales opportunities based on his proven 80/20 rule. 

To read the full Forbes article, click here.