Rheumatology Practice Management
Subscribe to Rheumatology Practice Management

Stay up to date with rheumatology news & updates by subscribing to receive the free RPM print publications or e‑Newsletters.

RPM e-Newsletter
RPM print publication

Maximizing Efficiencies in the Urology Office

Urology offices can realize substantial benefits by taking steps to improve office efficiencies, which can be accomplished by maximizing the use of existing technologies and software programs. Urology Practice Management (UPM) asked Cheris Craig, the Chief Administrative Officer at Urology of Greater Atlanta, LLC, to share her favorite time- and money-saving tips for managing her office.

UPM: Once fully implemented, technologies such as electronic medical records (EMR) and e-prescribing systems can help the office function more efficiently. But there are also a number of more modest enhancements that can save the office time and money, correct?

CC: Yes, there are a number of programs that we use every day. For example, Microsoft Outlook has quite a bit of functionality that is useful. Take the calendar-sharing feature. We have centralized the hospital call schedules for our urologists on one shared calendar, which physicians and staff can quickly look up—from their offices or their smartphones. We’ve done the same with our contacts. Shared contacts provide a single place for commonly used information on insurance companies, referring physicians, and pharmaceutical representatives. It has allowed us to eliminate posting multiple lists in the office (which quickly become outdated). Some offices use Microsoft SharePoint, an intranet-based content management system, to perform the same functions.

UPM: What about office communications?

CC: We use Interpage, a closed text-paging system that can be customized to page certain individuals as a group. It’s a great way to communicate within the office and it has a range of 2 miles, allowing us to communicate with nearby satellite offices as well. And, because it operates on a closed network, it’s fully HIPAA-compliant. Likewise, Microsoft Outlook also can be set up as a closed e-mail system, allowing staff to communicate and share patient-related information in a convenient, HIPAA-compliant manner. Anything that can be done to ensure patient privacy is important to us.

UPM: Although today’s medical practices are increasingly paperless, there is a large volume of documents that must be completed, submitted, processed, and stored. Have you found any tools to help with document flow and storage?

CC: Yes, there are a few things. Servers can be set up to receive inbound faxes in shared folders. If you use a cloud-based provider, you can consolidate multiple fax numbers to receive all inbound communications into one centralized number. These communications are all electronic, and inbound documents are automatically saved as .pdf files and are easily downloadable into our EMR. Of course, these communications also can be set up to be HIPAA-secure.

UPM: Are there other tools to facilitate document flow into your EMR?

CC: Yes, there is a program called PDF995, which installs on office computers like a printer. Rather than printing, however, it creates a .pdf file for any document. We’ve found it to be especially useful because .pdf documents are easily imported into our EMR. For example, we use PDF995 for lab-based ordering. We print a hard copy of the order to travel with the specimen to the lab. But we also print the same order to PDF995, and then import it directly into the EMR for handy reference. We use the same approach for patient intake forms, appeal letters, radiology orders, and referral forms.

UPM: Speaking of labs, we’ve heard that some of the larger labs—such as Quest and LabCorp—allow electronic order entry.

CC: That’s correct. Some of the lab providers offer a password-protected web-based environment for order entry. If you interface with the office practice management system, it automatically populates many of the required fields. Over the course of a week, that can save a lot of time.

UPM: Are there any other ideas that you think would be valuable to share with our readers?

CC: Yes, there is one more. We have eliminated our expensive postage meters and now use SmartPostage, an online desktop-based postage and shipping system. We no longer need to have postage meters in each of our 7 satellite offices, which saves us a considerable amount of money. It’s more efficient too—we can now easily track postage expenses for each satellite office. So, overall, it’s been a win–win in terms of saving time and money.

Related Items