Last month I promised to share a story with you of a small business that has successfully moved their business to the cloud. I’d like to introduce you to Dr. Michael Winters, owner of Winters Wellness Center – Chriopractic Refined in Paducah. Dr. Winters is not a client of mine, but a well-respected colleague who I know to be progressive not just in his approach to healthcare and the treatment he provides to his patients, but also in his approach to the business of healthcare.
Dr. Winters and his staff combine functional diagnosis, customized nutrition programs and a whole person form of chiropractic care with a goal of restoring health and wellness for his patients. The time spent with the patient is of utmost importance. For this reason Dr. Winters has invested into solutions that minimize the time he spends documenting patient notes and processing insurance claims in order to maximize the time spent performing tasks that directly improve the lives of his patients. He achieved this objective by implementing an array of tools that integrate together resulting in a seamless workflow that is efficient, reliable, and cost effective.
Choosing the Right Cloud-Based Solution
Dr. Winters’ journey to a cloud-based practice started with the adoption of his Electronic Health Records System. “In 2009, I needed to deploy a record keeping system that captured the information required by my industry, but allowed me to make notes fast enough so as not to impede upon my time with my patients,” explains Dr. Winters. “I chose a cloud-based solution that not only met my initial requirements, but integrated with other software solutions required by my business furthering the value it brings to my practice.” Dr. Winters’ adoption of cloud-based productivity tools did not end with the adoption of his EHR. Here’s a look at how moving to the cloud has benefited his practice.
- Automated Workflow
To reach his goal of minimizing time spent working in his EHR software, Dr. Winters deployed a cloud-based insurance billing system to automate insurance billings. When patient notes are submitted through the EHR, the billing system (which is integrated with the EHR) automatically processes, audits and submits the insurance claim. This eliminates the time delay associated to manually submitting claims and the need to hire staff to complete that activity.
Patient co-pays received by credit card are also processed via a cloud-based solution that, again, integrates with the EHR software for automatic processing at the time of the card swipe. Not only is the financial transaction completed, but the EHR software is also updated to notate the payment eliminating the need for manual data entry of the payment to the patient’s account.
- Collaboration with Third Parties
Processing insurance claims requires the involvement of third parties, each of whom play a role in the approval of the claim. Because the center’s insurance billing system is cloud-based and is in use by all companies who play a role in the claim approval and payment process, it’s always up-to-date. Should Dr. Winters have a need to check the status of a claim, he simply logs into the system where he can view the entire history of the claim and its current status in real time. This level of automation and real time submission cuts down on errors and significantly shortens the time it takes for the practice to receive reimbursement from insurance companies.
- Anytime, Anywhere Access
Dr. Winters travels frequently to attend conferences and stay on top of emerging trends in his industry. His connection to his patients and his practice does not stop when he’s on the road. Because all of Dr. Winters’ solutions are cloud-based, he has the ability to securely access his entire practice from anywhere with reliable internet access.
These tools provide convenience to Dr. Winters’ patients and support staff as well. To stay in contact with patients, Dr. Winters uses a cloud-based patient scheduling solution that allows him and his staff to manage their patient schedules regardless of where they are. The staff can send text reminders to patients. Patients can reply to those reminders and confirm their appointments which automatically updates the practice’s schedule. This solution is particularly useful in times of inclement weather. Staff members have the ability to connect with patients and reschedule appointments from the comfort and safety of their homes.
- Worry-Free Backups
A final benefit to the center’s cloud-based office is worry-free backups. When you take advantage of cloud based software, the maintenance of the software and the backup of the data you create using the software is the responsibility of the vendor. (I caution you before selecting a vendor to look carefully at their maintenance and backup policies.) In Dr. Winters’ case, backups are performed in real time with data replicated across multiple secure servers across the country significantly minimizing the likelihood of loss.
I asked Dr. Winters if there was anything he’d do differently if he had his tool selection to make over again. His only word of advice to readers was to invest into a sound, reliable internet connection. Remember that when you work in the cloud you are accessing systems and data that are located outside your office. Your systems will only be as reliable as the internet connection that connects you to your data.
Regardless of your industry, there are lessons that can be learned from Dr. Winters’ journey to a cloud-based business. Start slow, know your goals, and invest time into researching the solution that works best for your business. As illustrated, great benefits can come as a result of the transition.