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Written by Balaji R

Gone are the days when doctors used to maintain patient records in the form of paper files. Every document relating to patient care used to be filled meticulously by the Doctor or the Doctor’s assistant, pretty much the ways banks used to maintain customer account ledgers. The physical patient file was the master: the doctor’s staff had the responsibility of pulling out the patient’s file and giving it to the doctor for referring to the case history. Not only was it laborious but also had the problem of patient privacy. Papers had to be meticulously filed lest it falls in the hands of unauthorized individuals. Every time the Doctor’s assistant changed, a new pair of eyes had access to the patient records. Storage of documents took a lot of space and they had to be kept away from hazards due to moisture, fire and pests, among others. Going digital solves this problem as well as a host of other issues. Software to manage the clinic has evolved over time and has become integral to providing good patient care. Patient Management Software has to take care of everything from the moment a patient walks in to a clinic and literally does not end in many cases for many years, especially where the patient has to consult with the doctor for on-going treatment and care.

A Patient Management Software comprises of a number of features including tracking patient data and information, patient interactions, symptoms tracking, diagnosis, prescriptions, billing and invoicing, immunization and investigations, among others as part of the patient encounter process. Vitals and symptoms are also tracked. A Patient Management Software also acts as a bridge between doctors and patients. One may ask if patients also have access to their personal healthcare records? Patients may want to book their appointments online. They may order prescription drugs from an ePharmacy,  which is becoming a trend given the ample discounts offered by them. Investigations can also be sent directly to the diagnostic lab.

Features that one would normally see in a Patient Management Software include:

1. A sign-in feature

Doctors should be able to securely sign-in to the Patient Management Software.  Patients should also be able to login if the software provides the facility of a patient portal. 

2. Appointment Booking

The software allows patients to schedule their appointments with the doctor. The doctor or the doctor’s staff can also book the appointment for the patient in case the patient calls in seeking an appointment. A good SaaS software allows patients to book their appointment online from the doctor’s website or minisite. Patients can also make payments in cases where fees has to be paid upfront as in the case of teleconsulting. Patient experience in the clinic is greatly enhanced when there is no crowding of patients in the clinic waiting room and the wait time minimized. Confirmation of appointments that are booked are sent to the patient and doctor by email and SMS. These appointments are available in the calendar section of the software. Time slots that are booked are no longer available for booking by patients while appointments that are already booked can be cancelled and rescheduled.

3. Patient Portal

Medical records are available for review by the patient after signing-in. Patient records should be securely available to the patients. Patients can see only their prescriptions, doctor summaries, invoices, and receipts. It serves as a self-service option for patients. They do not need to contact the doctor if they need to refer to their records.

4. Sharing of medical records by email and SMS

This has become popular because patients receive their prescriptions and medical summaries on their mobile phone and by Email. Patients can directly upload this to any ePharmacy to order their prescription drugs. Medical records being sent by email and SMS to the patient helps improve their participation in their well-being.

5. Invoicing and receipts

The doctor should be able to bill/invoice the patient. Records of invoices and receipts should be available for patients and doctors to view and print.

6. Medical Certificate

Medical certificates are often requested by the patient from their doctors. These could be for submitted to their employers to explain the reason for taking leave.  Patient Management Software should have this feature in India using which doctors can provide medical certificates as required. Patients should be able to access the medical certificate after signing in to the Patient Portal.

7. Teleconsulting

This is becoming increasingly popular, driven by the pandemic. Prescriptions and doctor summaries need to be sent to patients by email and SMS. The Patient Management Software should have the facility of sharing doctor summary and prescription remotely via email and SMS.

8. Patient Medical Records

The medical history and encounter details can be documented in the Patient Management Software as part of the patient’s visit to the doctor. All aspects of the patient history, vitals, symptoms, diagnosis, prescriptions, investigations and immunization among others can be documented digitally and retrieved at any time by the doctor.

9. Reports

A number of reports derived from patient data, fees, appointments, prescriptions and investigations are made available to the doctor. These reports help in decision making. Reports can. Also be used to improve productivity and efficiency.

Conclusion

The use of a Patient Management Software streamlines clinic operations and improves the working of the clinic. There are several advantages of using such a software for both patients and doctors. Doctors benefit in terms of easy access to patient medical records, the ability to use data to drive decisions and policies, enhanced staff productivity , streamlined processes and the overall digitization of the clinic. Patients gain as well as they can receive better patient experience, enhanced care and better outcomes. Moving to a Patient Management Software is not very difficult. Migration of data is normally facilitated by the software provider. In some cases movement from paper records may appear to be tedious but is always worth the effort. The advantages far overweigh the costs.

Patient Management Software is relatively inexpensive and the widespread availability of SaaS products spreads the cost of development across multiple doctors. There are also no infrastructural costs as the doctor does not have to invest in expensive hardware. Such software are also generally secure and keep patient records safe. Privacy and data security concerns are top of the mind issues for doctors and patients.

At Genamet, our Patient Management Software is architected to give a superior experience to patients while in parallel clinic processes get streamlined and enhanced.

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