Considerations for Implementing New Workflows In Your Practice

By: Jennifer Heiligman, PT, MPT

Whenever you add a new service, feature, or workflow into your daily routine, it often leads to inefficiency before efficiencies are realized.  Planning, communication and collaboration with your entire team help to achieve a state of efficiency and success much easier and earlier in the process.  This is especially true when technology is involved and “reasons” are given by your patients to avoid engaging with technology.  This blog will go through considerations with implementing new features in your clinic workflow that involve the patient using a device to engage.  Examples of this scenario may include the implementation of a Patient Portal, Patient Engagement App and/or the use of electronic submission for Outcome Measures.

The first consideration is to get buy in from your entire practice.  This includes front office and admin staff, ancillary staff, such as aides, and your clinical staff.  When you have your whole team on the same page it will increase the likelihood of the patient having a positive experience.  The motivation comes from the top down.  As an owner or clinic director, if you are not 100% committed to the new workflow or service, your staff will not be either which can lead to poor patient participation.  When each staff member is speaking to the patient regarding the use of an app to complete their home exercises, they will deduce that it must be an important part of their rehab therapy process.

Communication is an extremely important element when implementing change.  You will want to clearly communicate to your staff the reasons and the expectations for changing a workflow or introducing a new service or feature.  Their understanding will improve adoption.  In addition, clear communication and repetitive communication to the patient will drive better adoption.  You can place signs around your clinic promoting the use of the patient portal or a patient engagement app.  The signs should be eye catching and positive to encourage recognition of the new features and uptake by your patients.

One idea to help keep communication consistent is to create a script to be used by your staff when communicating with the patients.  Using the same verbiage and reiterating what actions you would like the patient to take will help with uptake.  In addition, this will allow your staff to provide clear instructions and directions on how to use the new features, for example a patient portal.  Your staff should also make the patient aware of the benefits to them when they take part in the new process.  For example using a portal will cut down on patient wait times when they come into the clinic for their first visit and decrease the amount of paperwork they will need to fill out.  Within the script try to address any barriers or reasons that may be given by your patients as to why they cannot participate in the new workflow or technology.  Having your staff be prepared with solutions for the barriers when presented by the patients will help the new process be successful.

Implementing new features and workflows in a practice can be a daunting task. As stated above, keep in mind the process will most likely be inefficient at the onset.  However, by having the whole team’s collaboration in conjunction with a well laid plan, it doesn’t have to be as difficult as expected and will lead to improved efficiency.  Be prepared with consistent communication for your patients and be prepared to readjust should challenges become apparent in the initial plan.  Positive reinforcement for your staff and patients can help the adoption of new features, including those involving technology, be successful.  

The OptimisPT EMR platform includes a Patient Portal, OptimumME (our patient engagement app) and embedded Outcome Measures that can be electronically sent to your patients.  We also provide sample scripts and workflows to help your practice successfully implement these great features.  If you would like to learn more about OptimisPT click to schedule a demo.