Thursday, May 5, 2011



Managing time is a major issue for all professionals in today’s fast paced world. This is even more so for many doctors, especially those who work at multiple locations: Clinics, Hospitals and Medical centers. Workshops on effective time management are regularly organized at different financial and IT firms to help hard working professionals. Gyan is imparted on setting Alerts for Reminders, and To Dos for Task management and the importance of diaries, blackberries and calendar reminders is emphasized here. 

Physicians have a slightly bigger problem. Their schedules are majorly dependent on set appointments with patients. While they do have other areas of concern, the majority of their daily schedules are built around patient appointments. What complicates this for a consulting doctor is that every day he may have different visiting hours at different locations. This makes Time management even more crucial for Physicians. 

Effective Appointment Scheduling for Physicians thus becomes an extremely important activity, and many firms are trying to make an industry out of it alone. It makes more sense though to ensure that Appointment Scheduling is not taken up stand alone, but is an integral part of an EMR system. Add an effective Appointment Management Process to an EMR, and you have added a strong case with Physicians on adoption. 

The Appointment Management Process can be divided into 3 parts:

1.    Appointment Scheduling
2.    Scheduled Appointment Tracking
3.    Patient Visit
Mandatory Requirements for an Appointment Management System:

  • It should allow for different mediums of Appointment Scheduling
    • E.g. Via a Website, Via A Phone Call, Via SMS
  • It should permit Rescheduling
  • It should be able to handle Walk-In Patients
  • Besides the process, the screens should be simple – Non IT friendly users should be able to easily use it
    • Color Coded Entries: Pending, Completed, No Show, Bill Pending
    • Point And Click with Minimum Data Entry
  • Should be rigid enough to prevent Scheduling Errors
  • Should Support Multiple Doctors and Multiple Specialties
  • Maintain 2 Daily Calendar Views
    • Appointment View for Front Desk staff, Online Portal
    • Scheduled Visits View for Physicians
Appointment Management Workflow

Useful Features in an Appointment Manager which add value to the Appointment Workflow
A Good Appointment Manager allows appointments and available spots to be displayed across multiple locations ensuring quick coordination.
It has a visit calendar that showcases the status of the patient’s appointment right from the initial booking stage to the consultation and finally to the bill payments post check-up.
It contains Smart Customization features that help the staff and doctors to configure the appropriate time slots, visit options and default visit duration.
It offers Multiple Calendar Screens to View the Appointment Schedules Daily, Weekly and Month wise.
Sometimes patients forget appointments, which adversely affects the practice’s cash flow as well as adds Delays in the patients’ treatment. A Good Appointment Manager will offer automated appointment reminders built into the Appointment manager. This will help reduce No Shows as well as Reduce Confusions over time of Scheduled Appointments. These Reminders can be
  • Email Reminders
  • SMS Reminders
  • Automated Phone Calls Reminding the Patients of the Scheduled Appointment

The control center of a successful medical practice is an EMR with an efficient and user-friendly scheduling system. It will help your practice run smoothly with increased productivity and optimum patient satisfaction.  

If you missed it here is a link to 


Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Information Technology Orientation For Starting Hospital Administrators

Information technology and computer science tools are definitely the most rapidly growing segment of the world ecosystem. The development in the sector permeates every human activity; social, economic, cultural, religious, political, professional, personal and healthcare. Information technology has radically altered the way many people work and think. Information Technology has made a significant difference to the Quality and Standards of Life. Learning some of the common IT application an individual can carry out any activity of your work life simpler and easier.

There is a rising awareness about the need for better healthcare in India. The demand for healthcare is growing with the increasing affordability of Indian middle class, a new breed of patients have emerged with enhanced expectations for better quality of healthcare, both patients and doctors exposed to international healthcare setting demand more, number of insurance players playing a key role, net savvy population, more number of independent hospitals have made the healthcare market more competent and complex.

Over the years, technology has touched a new zenith and now it is not constrained to developed countries. Developing countries such as India have kept pace with the world in modern technology. Healthcare professionals can no longer disregard the application of information technology to healthcare because they are key elements for competing in complex healthcare competition.
The major component that can give an edge in terms of patient care and effective decision making is IT support. Today's corporate hospitals compete on the basis of the technology with investment in it being the major benchmark.

Technology in healthcare has brought better therapeutic & diagnostics delivery of services,  integration to various components of large healthcare providing entity, very similar to that of any other sector like manufacturing and banking sectors. Healthcare IT has huge potential in India as the hospital are emerging, growing up and healthcare workers want to upgrade.

When a fresh post graduate with medical and non medical background entering in the market searching for a job in the healthcare administration side with little or no knowledge on IT, he has to be a part of  following job codes

Job code 1 He joins an ongoing cooperate hospitals that has an established IT infrastructure, enterprise wide software and a well integrated system. The hospitals have already invested heavily on IT applications and using them successfully, the expectations from a fresher to perform in the new setting are high. To deal with this situation the fresher should be oriented with basic operational domain knowledge as well as trained by application specialist.
Job code 2  When a fresh post graduate joins a hospital from the scratch (for a new hospital which is in the inception/ setting up stage). The fresh post graduate has to plan, coordinate, budget, execute, install, and train the employees, built an entire IT system for a new hospital for which he should have a sound knowledge of IT application in his post graduation as a core subject.
Job code 3 When a fresh post graduate joins a consultancy and suppose the consultancy is working on an IT project for an established hospital or a new hospital. The fresh post graduate has to work with IT vendors and make a decision regarding the IT infrastructure. He has to plan, budget, execute, install, and train the employees built an entire IT plan for a new hospital and act as a facilitator, catalyst as a change agent
Job code 4 When a fresh post graduate has mobilized enough funds to start his own hospital as the owner he has to make a  tough decision regarding  IT infrastructure .He  should know his budget, requirement and growth prospect .He can plan the entire schedule by himself or take the help of  IT consultant
Job code 5 This is the toughest of all the jobs codes, you are working with existing software and reported some modifications either want to add new features or replace it you have been assigned this duty to select , administer , execute, train, budget the entire program( he has to act as a change agent, motivate the staff and convince the management ). It is very risky. The individual may have little or no knowledge of new technology and application. The success of the project depends up on you which involves time, money and efforts.

What Are The Software Options?
As a fresh post graduate who is in the future going to be an administrator should understand few basic principals about IT software either to go for (Build software vs. Buy software) or (Make decision vs. Buy decision). This is the most important and curtail of all the decision of IT infrastructure.
If it is Make decision then it is development of software in house which follows SDLC (System Development Life Cycle)
If it is Buy decision then checking out your hospital requirements, listing out various vendors who supply readymade software product on contract basesevaluate their features, select the best from the available, install the software, train the employees with application specialist, have a backend support with vendor.

Basic Check List Elements
Check list 1    The first responsibility that the administrator has is to ensure is that the software which is being used has an End-User-Licensing-Agreement. It should not be pirated one
Check list 2 The administrator should instruct the IT manager to have all the detailed about hardware, software, number of computers, date of manufacturing, their warranty period, when was the annual maintenance contract renewal (AMC), when is it to be renewed and so on. This all should be maintained as a hard and soft copy.
Check list 3 The administrator should instruct the IT manager to have total control over the network, support your system with a good firewall which scans each piece of data that goes out or comes in, a good antivirus with daily updates with Malware and spam mail options, a sound multi-level authorisation to ensure what data is viewed only by authorised personal. Site-blocker software should be installed which blocks illegal browsing sites.
Check list 4 A sound backup and recovery program is very important. (Offsite backup is preferred).
Check list 5 Check the various insurance options for IT which include (Insurance for the entire hardware and software installed in the system and even the user is supposed to be insured. (If you are not aware of the insurance policy then hire an insurance broker)
Check list 6 Plan the IT– infrastructure by seeing the existing workload, technology up gradation etc. A definite amount of budget should be allocated to the IT- Manager. A maintenance budget and an operational budget
Check list 7 Regular training programs should be conducted for the new employees, as well as for the existing ones. Eemployee feedback should be taken about IT and evaluated by the administrator and IT manager.
Check list 8 An easy to navigate, light, perfect, interactive website or portal should be maintained by hospital IT-Department. This can be browsed on any browser.  All the employees should possess an Email for any form of internal communication.

Note: The document has not covered the technical details of various elements like firewall, backup, recovery, browser, portal, insurance broker etc

This is a Guest Post by:
Syed Murtuza Hussain Bakshi

Associate Professor
Department Of Hospital Management
Owaisi Hospital and Research Center

Mobile: - 09948662135