Business Tip: Harnessing the Efficiencies of Computerisation (and the elusive paperless office) by Richard Rees IT Specialist.
In a time when virtually everything it takes to run our business keeps getting more expensive, it’s nice to be reminded that some prices are not going up, and in many instances are coming down.
Anyone that’s had much to do with Information Technology (I.T.), will tell you that what your dollar buys today, is miles ahead of what it bought even 3 years ago. That’s why it amazes me how many practices are still resisting the need to seriously invest in their I.T. infrastructure.
Think of this: for what it would have cost to buy basic hardware a few years ago, could now buy the same hi-tech functionality that was once only available to the massive corporations at the top end of town.
For example, we all know that you should be able to access any data from anywhere in your practice. Take an image of a patient (or better still, have one of your staff take it) and view that image in your consulting room. Obviously many of you do this, most still don’t.
Well how about viewing this image from home or from your hotel overseas? Easy!
You can quite simply review patients from anywhere, add notes to their file, make recommendations and re-appoint them… check appointments, and be available no matter where you are. Telecommuting is now more possible and affordable than ever!
Many of you are now using the new SMS feature in your practice management software to notify clients of their spectacles and contact lenses being ready, and emailing stock orders and prescriptions to save time and money. This is just the beginning!
We’ve all seen the explosion of the consumer digital camera market! What it used to cost me to capture digital images is now just a horrible memory! Thankfully now, our diagnostic camera’s can mostly interface via a simple Universal Serial Bus (USB) port, standard on all new computers.
This double-edged sword has brought both blessing and challenges… we can now get fabulous hi-res images from relatively low cost devices. The challenge of course, is how do we store them all, and how do we back them all up!
This is where we need to rely upon professional outside support! And while they’re making room for all these images, let’s finally get of all our old patient cards, referral letters and paper file notes on-line!
Hi-speed double-sided (duplex) scanning units are available for around $1,000 placing them well within reach of any small practice. Only 5 years ago, going ‘paperless’ was a fanciful dream unless you had upwards of $50,000 to spend.
So how much do we need to allocate for a ‘bleeding-edge’ automation of the average practice? Well, depending on the size of your business and your floor space the level of computerisation from Optometry practice to Optometry practice will vary.
The average practice with an optometrist, an optical dispenser and a reception person could be set up to have a workstation in each of your ‘work’ area’s (i.e. one in the consultation room, one at dispensing and one in the lab). You’ll need at least one workstation at reception, and ideally two depending on the traffic in this area. To run all of this you’ll need a dedicated server of some sort, with mass storage and backup capabilities.
For a practice such as this, don't expect any change from $20,000 but keep in mind a rolling 3-5 year life expectancy for this investment, and constant provision for improvements to prevent massive unexpected drains on cash flow. It can be done cheaper, but usually you’ll get what you pay for in terms of brand-name hardware and components.
Register for Business 2005. Our computer wizz Richie Rees will speak about what to do and what NOT to do when it comes to this very important topic. We will also concentrate on staff and take home business tips that are bound to increase your efficiency and your bottom line.
Contact Richard Rees for expert advice. Even if you are not in Sydney, Richard has a network of IT specialists around the country that can solve your current problems to even setting up fully paperless practices from scratch.