Episode 5: Running a Modern Clinic
Jane decided to start a clinic for her own medical practice.
Jane and two of her colleagues at Medical School decided to start their own medical practice and establish their private clinic. Most of the logistics have been addressed. The location of the clinic, the interior design, skilled team of assistants, telephones, kitchen, reception, etc have all been figured out. However, Jane knew this will not be enough.
Jane turned to her trusted advisor, Joe for assistance.
Clinic Management Challenges
In order for the clinic to succeed, the medical doctors needed to spend more time attending to their patients rather than doing administrative work.
Jane knew that in order for the clinic to succeed, the medical doctors needed to spend more time attending to their patients rather than doing administrative work. The performance of the whole clinic would depend on reducing waste and improving the throughput of the clinic in terms of number of patients served.
Time vs. Data Accuracy
It is difficult to keep track of clinic's patients. When the clinic starts its operations, it would be easy for Jane and the rest of the team to identify with their patients, as they would be few. As the clinic's patient base starts growing, keeping track of every patient is going to be increasingly difficult. Jane found that most of the competing clinics usually keep patient records with minimal attention to data accuracy. In fact, those clinics didn't bother much about the accuracy of their patient data.
Receptionists usually entered only the name of the patient in order to save a patient's time, at the expense of data quality.
Clinics usually do not keep track of all patient details. The reason is the fierceful battle between time and data accuracy. It would usually take a receptionist a few minutes to enter all the details of a patient into record. Patients would not have this much patience during check-in. Receptionists usually entered only the name of the patient in order to save a patient's time, at the expense of data quality. Receptionists had taken a conscious decision to trade data accuracy for efficient time.
This comes at a price. Missing key patient demographic information hurts the clinic's business plans. It means that the clinic's management needs to base their plans on intuition or gesture rather than facts.
Organizing the Clinic's Appointments
Patient appointments were missing, have changed without their consent or got canceled without notice.
Jane realizes that the most suitable way to serve her patients is by arranging appointments. Jane trained her team of receptionists to handle phone calls and patient visits. Yet, the clinic is suffering from several issues. Patient appointments were missing, have changed without their consent or got canceled without notice. Furthermore, there were double-bookings for some patients, rendering the whole appointment structure useless in the eyes of their patients.
Patient File Records, a disaster waiting to happen
The clinic used paper-based files to store patient records. This required storage space, as well as time during fetching.
Jane identified another enormous challenge. The clinic used paper-based files to store patient records. This was the only acceptable form of proof to the local Ministry of Health. As the number of patients grew, so did the number of patient files. This required storage space. When a physician needed access to a patient's medical record, the file needed to be fetched from storage and brought back when done. This time-consuming process cost the clinic storage rental charges and hurt the clinic's reputation. What would happen if the file is lost, or accessed by unauthorized personnel? A disaster is waiting to happen here.
Pharmacy's Medication Store is a nightmare
Whenever a physical inventory was performed, many items were missing, had expired, or were damaged.
The clinic's pharmacy serves medications to patients based on the prescription given to them by a physician. It is a nightmare to manage the Medication Store. On every occasion where a physical inventory was performed, many items were missing, had expired, or were damaged. Finding who was the supplier of the medicine, when did this batch arrive, and where did the medication end-up is extremely difficult.
Solution - SharperClinic
Time and data accuracy friends, not foes
Having listened carefully to Jane's challenges, Joe recommended a solution.
A solution should capture the details of a patient as accurately and quickly as possible
After some research, Joe found that a viable solution should establish peace between time and data accuracy. The solution should provide ways to capture the details of a patient as accurately as possible, while making sure that this happens at the shortest possible period of time. Instead of having to optimize a patient's waiting time at the expense of data accuracy, the solution should not force the organization to choose between the two options. The organization should have both options together.
Live Appointments Schedule
The solution should maintain a list of appointments, log the changes made to each appointment and alert users of possible conflicts.
Maintaining an interactive, always-available appointments schedule is one of the requirements of the solution. The solution should maintain a list of appointments, log the changes made to each appointment and alert users of possible conflicts. Initially, appointments would be booked, but marked as "unconfirmed". In due course, receptionists would contact the patient and either mark the appointment as "confirmed" or move it to another slot. When a patient arrives, the solution should provide ways to mark the patient as "arrived". This would save the clinic from all the appointment management headaches.
Digital Patient Records
The solution should provide either electronic medical records or at least Digital Files.
A viable solution should also provide either electronic medical records or at least Digital Files. Pages from a patient's paper-based medical record should be scanned and converted into digital form and stored in the system. If a physician requires access to the medical record, s/he only needs a few clicks to open the Digital Files. This relieves the clinic from storage costs, improves the time it takes to access a patient's record and improves the overall perception of its patients.
Medication Store Management
It should be possible to track medications from the moment they are ordered from a supplier to the moment they are sold to a patient.
One of the most important capabilities of a viable solution is its ability to maintain records of medications. It should be possible to track medications from the moment they are ordered from a supplier to the moment they are sold to a patient. The solution should make sure that medications from an older batch are released first. This reduces chances of keeping expiring medications in the store. Whenever an item is sold, the stock is lowered, making it possible to perform an accurate and efficient physical count. Furthermore, the solution should provide reports for medications that require replenishment.