When your medical practice has a new patient, starting off on the right foot can make a positive difference over the short and long term. Information you collect at the beginning of the patient relationship helps both parties avoid surprises and ensure that medical billing is accurate.
Collecting basic medical history data up front lets clinicians know if there are chronic conditions that need to be addressed, and collecting payment and insurance information lets your claims and billing personnel work efficiently so the revenue cycle doesn't needlessly slow down. When you have outstanding electronic health record (EHR) software orchestrating the collection and storage of patient information, all these tasks are easier for your staff. Here are five questions every medical practice should ask when a new patient arrives.
1. What Are Your Medical and Surgical Histories?
The patient health record will be more complete and valuable if you know whether they have ever been hospitalized, treated for a chronic condition, had medical tests, or had surgery. Even if an adult patient had surgery or some other treatment as a child, it's important to know about it when creating a treatment plan and delivering healthcare.
2. What Prescription and Non-Prescription Medications Do You Take?
Some people think that over-the-counter medications don't count, or that herbal supplements don't matter. Make it clear to new patients that the physician needs to know not only about any prescription medications they take, but also about over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
It's ideal if the patient brings prescription bottles to the appointment so the information collected is as accurate as possible.
3. What Allergies Do You Have?
In addition to knowing whether a new patient has seasonal or food allergies, doctors need to know if they have any drug allergies, a latex allergy, or a serious reaction to bee stings, for example. EHRs are terrific for using this information to alert doctors and nurses of potential drug interactions and allergies so allergens can be avoided.
4. What is Your Smoking, Alcohol, and Illicit Drug Use History?
If you make it clear up front that you take patient confidentiality seriously and protect their information at all times, they're more likely to be forthright about whether they use tobacco products, drink alcohol regularly, or use (or have used) illicit substances. Answers to these questions can make a difference when it comes to diagnosing and treating health conditions, and reassuring patients of their privacy helps elicit honesty from the start.
5. Have You Served in the Armed Forces?
It's important to know if a new patient has served in the military, particularly if they participated in one or more combat tours. This can help you learn more about physical trauma, potential exposure to toxins, and possible mental health issues like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) so that diagnosis and treatment options can be tailored to the patient's needs.
Choosing an EHR Software
If your EHR system harmonizes well with your work processes, it can make things easier on your staff and ultimately on patients as well. Choosing an EHR software can be difficult for medical practices. When making the decision, a practice should consider if the EHR will help with collecting patient information before the patient enters the waiting room. An EHR is more than software that stores patient data. A top EHR solution will help your practice achieve more accurate medical billing, improve patient engagement and communication, and share patient information with other providers.
Optimizing care requires up-to-date, accurate patient information, and efficient medical billing also depends on complete and accurate data. When your EHR system is a unified platform, claims can be submitted more quickly, be less likely to be rejected because of mistakes, and patient billing can be done expediently.
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