New patient scheduling and reputation management software implemented at the start of 2018 is bringing rapid rewards to Pennsylvania Dermatology Partners, an 11-site group practice in Amity Township serving about 7,300 patients a month.

At the start of 2018, the practice had about 80 daily appointments through the online scheduling, which soon passed 120 and now has topped 300.

“At first, we looked at a few areas to open schedules and realized we could throw up almost all provider schedules, and it has worked,” says Andrew Frankel, the chief operating officer for the practice.

Frankel formed the practice in 2012 with Daniel Shurman, MD. They initially used a homegrown practice management and electronic health records system. Over time, they bought a specialty-specific EHR and continued to develop it. The cobbled IT infrastructure worked well for years, Frankel says, until patient engagement rose in importance in healthcare.

The practice assessed software vendors and selected AdvancedMD’s practice management and patient engagement software.

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As 2018 started, Frankel and Shurman worked with the vendor to go live with cloud-based patient scheduling and reputation management software. They sought to better market the practice and more deeply engage patients by letting them make their own appointments online, even changing previously scheduled appointments if necessary via a patient portal.

Having offered patient scheduling for only five months, the practice has seen an increase of four percent in monthly patient volume. Patients are keeping the appointments they scheduled for themselves, improving patient care and bringing in more revenue.

“Every night, people are changing appointments to come into the office in the morning, and when we come in the office, we see the changes they have made,” Frankel explains. The scheduling software includes physician schedules, so patients using their smart phones can pick an empty slot and secure their appointment online.

Self-service for patients also is improving the practice’s reputation and helping it retain patients. Via an app on their smart phones, patients can provide a quick rating on the satisfaction of the service. In May during a 7-day period the practice received 153 patient reviews, of which 132 received the highest rating of five stars. Frankel is able to sort out negative ratings and reach out to patients to find out how to resolve any situations.

“Reputation management has been a big help for us,” Frankel says. Typically, those who write reviews are not the really happy ones, but the unhappy patients. “Reaching out quickly is the best way to address a patient’s issue. It’s an incredibly good thing to do.”

Reputation management software enables a practice to examine where it is excelling and where improvements in processes are necessary, Frankel contends. For example, if a patient encounter receives a rating of three stars or fewer, the practice can send an email asking the patient to explain how the practice can improve.

Other available services to patients include automated appointment reminders, secure messages for test results or other communications intended to keep patients engaged rather than losing them, and billing in a timely manner and posting funds electronically.

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