Coates & Associates, Inc - "Steering Organizations to New Horizons"
The Coates Perspective

Using Smart Technology to Improve Your Customer Service, Part IV

Client Highlight: FirstChoice Healthcare, PC

     When I go for an appointment with my doctor or to the urgent care clinic, I hate to wait. I must not be alone in this, because I have learned from one of my long-time clients that making patients wait creates stress and problems during the patient visit. In many cases, if patients have a choice, they will leave or not reschedule a future visit. What’s more is each time a patient leaves a practice, the physician and the practice essentially loose future revenue.   

     How do you increase efficiency and reduce wait time on the one hand and streamline a process to save money on the other? Can it be done? Absolutely, and at the center of one possible solution is smart technology.   

     Several years ago, Dr. Dean Banks, and I were working through a strategic plan for his medical practice. He envisioned a process whereby the patients could check themselves in and even pay their bill with little or no help from the traditional front desk staff. While we explored the possibilities, the wait times at his clinic continued to be a problem. Unfortunately these wait times resulted in some unhappy customers. At that point in time we did not find the technology to help us. We upgraded our electronic medical record systems and added personnel at several points in our process, which did help, but was not a consistent fix. It was not until recently that a breakthrough technology pushed our process forward.   
     Today, patients at Dr. Banks’ FirstChoice Healthcare facility in Florence, South Carolina, are enjoying a new way of checking in. Using an iPad-like device developed and sold by Phressia, a patient is able to review their medical history, record the chief complaint for that visit, verify their insurance information by swiping their insurance car through the computer, and even use their credit card to pay for the current visit and their balance. Initial projections suggested that no more than 50% of patients would use the computers. However, actual results indicate that closer to 85% not only use the technology, but also really like it. Of course, there is an occasional patient that will ask not to use this system, but by and large most see the benefit. This smart technology has cut the wait time substantially.   

    The Phressia platform is evolving. In a couple of months, Dr. Banks will be able to fully integrate the iPad-like check-in process with his electronic health records system (EHR). At that point the demographic information will automatically populate to the clinical side of the practice. This will allow the clinical staff faster response time, as they will have less to type or record in the computer. It’s a win-win for the practice as it saves time and money and for the patient as it also saves them time and frustration. Overall, this smart technology positively impacts the morale and atmosphere at the clinic.   

    To date, FirstChoice Healthcare is the only medical organization in the area using this approach as designed by Phreesia. Many competitors claim they can get you in and out in a jiffy, but the reality is that few can. Dr. Banks insists that his team do all they can to make it happen.    

    Those that know Dr. Banks understand that he may not have created “thinking out of the box”, but he is certainly a leader in the effort. For me, it is exciting to help navigate these kinds of customer service improvements with such a forward thinking organization.   

    The question for us now is “what’s next?” What are you doing to capitalize on smart technology to improve service to your customers? 

     To learn more or if you have questions about how we can help you in this area of your business, contact us at or call us at 843.229.3546.    

   FirstChoice Healthcare, PC is a multi-discipline medical practice with seven facilities across South Carolina. Areas of specialty include primary care, family practice, express care, chiropractic care, and pain management.   

  Phreesia is the branded name of the medical data management system referenced above.   

  Coates and Associates, Inc…Steering Organizations to New Horizons

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