In office blood work, or at least the collection of blood work in office, is a very convenient service offered to many patients in both large and small practices. Lab results can be electronically loaded into EHR, and available on the patient portal. But is there a downside? Many insurances change contracts at the beginning of the year, and that may include what laboratory they have contracted with to perform studies for which they will pay. Keeping up with these changes and ensuring the blood gets to the right lab is both the patient and practice responsibility. You will surely hear from that patient who was expecting little or no charge for blood work who suddenly gets a bill for hundreds of dollars because specimens were sent to wrong lab.
Extended office hours usually offered to convenience working patients may mean extra cost for the practice in time and benefits to employees unless there are cuts made in other hours offered.
Offering email to patients who wish to ask questions, and communicate with provider and staff via email is a great convenience to patients. Someone has to be accountable for answering these emails and doing the follow-up. What if email or computers go down with unanswered emails? What’s the cost of securing a website that email is offered? What about upgrades? If you do not have an in-office techy who can trouble-shoot issues, how long does it take for your service provider to respond?
Your EHR may be generating revenue for you by participating in meaningful use. Who oversees this process? How are records kept to prove you deserve the meaningful use dollars? What if you are subject to an audit and are asked to re-pay dollars? What options do you have for appeal?
The phone tree your practice uses may be a tool of great convenience to your staff. But what about your patients? What does it take for them to actually speak to a live person? Do your elderly patients fully understand what the phone tree is telling them?
The point? Convenience. Whether for the providers, the staff or the patients each of them in themselves is not the only consideration to make when implementing new features. Make sure you are not only offering these conveniences, but are also considering the repercussions of the fallout should the convenience not work or be received well.