Is your practice care plan-ready?
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Is your practice care plan-ready?

There’s been a lot of industry talk lately about how pending MBS changes will require patients to register with a practice in order to build chronic disease care plans for them. We spoke with digital health, practice management and medical software expert, Katrina Otto, to uncover some smart, patient-centric ways medical practices can boost patient registration in order to enable better continuity of care.

Continuity of care and care plans

According to MedicalDirector’s latest Patient Engagement Survey 2018, continuity of care, is an essential part of enabling better health outcomes. The importance of continuity of care has also been further supported by study conducted by the Australian Journal of General Practice in May 2018. It found ‘doctor hopping’ could potentially pose a risk of care to become fragmented, particularly if a GP is unaware of the patient’s previous consultations.

“We all know continuity of care is absolutely significant in order to enable better health outcomes,” Katrina says. “But the challenge now for practices is to encourage patients register – because it’s the only way they can build an effective care plan for them.”

Having trained hundreds of nurses, practice managers and doctors on digital health and practice management, Katrina explains in today’s competitive health environment, every medical practice needs to understand what it really takes to attract patient registration.

“Think about what it is about your practice that would make a patient want to choose you,” she adds. “Ask yourself this: what makes your practice ‘exceptional’?”

A patient-centric approach

According to Katrina, embracing a patient-centric approach is a good start to help encourage patient registration. Heralded as one of the ‘central pillars of quality in healthcare,’ patient-centric care has been associated with continuity of care, a reduction in hospital admissions, curbing expenditure and alleviating pressure on an already burdened system.

“It’s all about creating a personalised approach to patient experience, and finding ways to encourage your patients to come back to you, because they know you’ll be able to support them in they way they need it the most,” Katrina says.

Simple tips to enhance patient loyalty

Some solutions, tools and resources can GPs offer to patients to improve patient engagement and boost patient loyalty include:

  • Text reminders of appointments and follow-up appointments, to minimise patient no-shows
  • Online booking systems, to both save patients time and help capture patients details so you can engage with them about care plans
  • Fast and easy methods of communicating such as text and email
  • Factsheets and health resources, to empower patients with more understanding about their condition, and how to manage it.
  • Streamline clinical management with the right software solutionsto free up more quality time to offer patient-centric care

“Ultimately, patient feedback can be a valuable strategy for medical practices to gain deeper insights into how to improve patient experience, personalised care and continuity of care,” Katrina says. “So take the time to ask your patients – how do they want their appointments to look like, do they want to book online? Do they want telehealth options? Collecting and responding to all this feedback means patients are more likely to have more positive experiences at your practice, which in turn leads to greater patient loyalty.”