By Stephen W. Earnhart, MS
Earnhart & Associates
We are living in a time when, for just about anything we need, there is an app associated with it. Our mobile phones have replaced our cameras, fax machines, video cameras, alarm clocks, maps, newspapers, magazines, address books, yellow pages, and many other devices and items that we just thought we could not do without.
Just about anything you can do on a computer you can do on a mobile device. You can make airline reservations, book hotels, buy movie tickets, order food, get food delivered, get a cab, but you cannot pre-register your patients for surgery. Does your facility have an app? Why not?
How do you let your patients know you are ready for them and to come to the reception desk? Do you call out their names? Go look for them in the waiting room? Or text them?
You can change your doctors’ appointments, be notified by a pharmacy that your prescription is ready for pickup, notify daycare that you will be late, lock and unlock your car, start your car, close your garage doors, and view your pets while you are gone. However, you can’t watch the surgery on your loved one from your phone.
Think about what you do every day with your mobile devices. Now think about what we, in healthcare, do and how far behind we are with the rest of technology.
Does my company have an app? No. I don’t know how to do one, but I am sure there is an app that can teach me.
We can invite 50 friends to a party and manage a “what-to-bring” list for each, but we have to wait for lab work before we can clear our patients. We make repeated preop and postop phone calls to patients as we try to get them “live” so we can talk to them. We print directions that show where we are located, but we don’t have an app that can GPS them to us, which would save late arrivals, or “Waze” them around traffic to get them here on time.
We all have outdated brochures that should be updated continuously and sent to patients when we collect their email addresses. We have staff bios and new surgeons and list their education and reviews, which patients would love to receive from us. We can send them birthday wishes, reminders, updated online check-in info, missing health data, and copies of their physicals and lab work. We can do all this, but alas, most of us don’t, including me. We should.
Yes, it might be intrusive to some, but they can “unsubscribe” if they wish. There could be some weird HIPAA issue that some attorney will scorn that you might need to check out, but anything and everything we can do to stay in touch with our patients and staff is worth the effort. We really need to get back out in the mainstream of social media and have apps, Facebook accounts, Twitter, and other relevant ways to communicate. (Editor’s note: Follow Same-Day Surgery and its publisher @SameDaySurgery on Twitter and on facebook @AHCMedia.)
I would love to hear from some of you who are going all out with this approach. What are you doing that you can share with others? I routinely hear from about 150 of you each month about something. Let’s try to break that number with your ideas next month. Show me your apps, and teach me how to do one! (Earnhart & Associates is a consulting firm specializing in all aspects of outpatient surgery development and management. Earnhart & Associates can be reached at 5114 Balcones Woods Drive, Suite 307-203, Austin, TX 78759. Phone: (512) 297-7575. Fax: (512) 233-2979. Email: email@example.com. Web: www.earnhart.com.)