Many psychiatrists and nurse practitioners have found, like me, that private practice allows us to earn “a living wage”. But when you mention private practice, why do so many clinicians cringe and think it is a big hassle?
By far, the number one problem according to them—patients will be calling you all day long, even at 10 pm! Unfortunately, many clinicians do run their practices in this way and feel drained and frustrated at the end of the week.
Why do they call, I ask? They need a prescription refill, want to change their appointment, or have a question about their illness or treatment.
I see patients face-to-face in my practice about 18 hours a week. I get calls from potential new patients about five times a week. From my existing patients, how many phone calls do I get? About one per month (no kidding). Do you want to know my secret? OK–I’ll tell you.
I use a HIPAA-compliant, easy-to-use practice management system called Luminello (see https://simpleandpractical.com/luminello). Every patient of mine also gets an account in the system at no charge to anyone. How does Luminello help me to get virtually no phone calls?
Secure, HIPAA-compliant messaging
This is similar to email and is included in Luminello. So, patients message me if they have a question. Writing a very brief reply to a message takes a few seconds. No phone call takes a few seconds. Especially if you are playing “phone tag”.
Since my patients know that they can conveniently message me on Luminello and that they will get a response, they don’t call me.
When I see patients, instead of saying, “Call me if you have any problems,” I say, “If you have any problems, message me on Luminello.”
Occasionally, a patient will call me and leave voicemail for me anyway. In such a case, I message the person on Luminello saying, “Got your voicemail. Here’s what you should do….”
By the way, here are my most frequent responses when I reply to messages from patients:
“Sent!” A one-word response to a request for a refill.
“Let’s discuss this when we meet next” My standard response to non-urgent clinical questions. This has greatly reduced the number of messages I get.
E-prescribing including for controlled substances.
I don’t have to type in the medication every time. I just click on “Reorder”, enter my 4-digit PIN number, and click on “Approve and Send”. That’s it!
Being able to e-prescribe controlled substances like stimulants is especially a big deal because other prescriptions can be phoned into the pharmacy but stimulant prescriptions cannot.
I can even send e-prescriptions to patients in another state if they are out of town for any reason.
On one occasion I was on a long plane journey and purchased internet access because I wanted to do some research, etc. Anyway, I got a message from a patient who needed a refill for a stimulant. It was so cool to be able to do that in less than a minute from 30,000 feet up in the air!
Automatic drug-interaction searches
As a side benefit of e-prescribing, every time I prescribe a medication, a drug interaction search is automatically done and any significant drug interactions with the patient’s pre-existing medications is automatically displayed.
Self-scheduling of appointments
After the first appointment, my patients schedule their own appointments on Luminello. It is so easy that even my patients who are not computer-savvy do it.
Patients can also change or cancel their own appointments.
When the patient schedules the appointment, the cancellation policy is displayed.
As soon as the appointment is made, the patient gets an email confirming the date and time of the appointment. In addition, the patient gets a reminder email prior to the appointment. We can choose how long before the appointment we want the patient to get the reminder. I have set it for 48 hours prior to the appointment.
This scheduling feature saves me time. I was so happy when they introduced this in 2017.
If for any reason, you don’t want a patient to be able to schedule his/her own appointments, you do have the option to give a particular patient (or all your patients) some privileges and not others.
Time is money, as they say. Since I charge my patients based on time, I have come to put a dollar value on my time. Spending a few bucks on getting an excellent EMR like Luminello is a no-brainer to me.
Want a discount?
Simple and Practical Mental Health has an affiliate relationship with Luminello. If you use the discount code SPMH at sign up for any of the Premium plans, you will automatically get an additional FREE month of Luminello.
If you sign up for any Premium plan by March 31, 2018, you will also receive an Amazon gift certificate for $50!
Disclosure: For every clinician who signs up for a Premium plan using the discount code SPMH, Luminello will give me a commission at no cost to the person signing up.
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