Breezing in and out of a doctor’s appointment is a welcome treat, right up there with hitting a long stretch of green lights on the drive to work.Of course, speed is not often associated with a medical practice, where the number of steps required to complete the visit add up. That includes paperwork, the wait to be called in and a lot of shuffling in the exam room.Dr. David McAtee, Millennium Physician Group’s chief medical information officer, knew there had to be a better way. So, he and his colleague, Millennium Chief Innovation Officer Jeffrey Nelson, spent two years developing a tech-driven system that has streamlined the process at the doctor’s office.“My goal is to perfect the workflow,” says McAtee, a family practitioner in Port Charlotte. “In the world of medicine, time is of the essence.”Hence, the “Medical Office of the Future,” as it has been dubbed, where the solutions range from the practical to the gee whiz.
For example, patients can check in for their appointment through a mobile device prior to the office visit. Payments and insurance updates can also be made ahead of time. There’s also a kiosk in the office that allows patients to bypass the front desk.
One of the more interesting features at McAtee’s office is an exam table that automatically weighs patients and takes their vital signs, which are sent directly to the doctor’s device. The equipment eliminates a routine that goes like this: a patient sits in a chair where the nurse conducts an interview; the patient goes on the exam table for a check of the vitals. The patient then sits back in the chair. The seating sequence is then repeated by the doctor.
Plus, the new exam table, which adjusts positions, is fun. “The patients love it. They kind of giggle the first time,” McAtee says.
The whole idea behind all of these efforts is to “gain back time by removing redundancies and increasing efficiencies,” he says.
That adds up to enhancing the patient experience and healthier outcome by allowing for longer visits with the staff and shorter waits to get in. Because of that, McAtee’s office has yet to install a TV in the waiting room. “No one’s complained,” he says.
McAtee hopes the prototype will be adopted by other Millennium practices across Southwest Florida. The company employs more than 500 healthcare providers among its nearly 3,000 treating patients in an area from Marco Island to Jacksonville.
To see what the futuristic office features look like, please view the following photo essay, with descriptions submitted by Millennium.
A visit to the “Office of the Future” starts well before the patients ever get to the doctor’s office:
1. Millennium’s Patient App: Patients can schedule appointments online through Millennium’s app. The goal is to have this feature available to all the patients—even new ones making their first appointment—with all of Millennium’s 500 health- care providers.
2. Millennium Advance Check-In: Several days before their appointment, patients receive a text or an email to pre-register. They input important information such demographics, medical history, health concerns and insurance and billing details into the system when it’s convenient for them before arriving at the doctor’s office. All patient registration is done electronically. And the office is paperless. The automation pays off on time saved in subsequent visits.
Once at the Office of the Future:
3. Check-In Kiosk: If they’ve pre-registered, patients only need to type in their name and date of birth at the Check-In Kiosk upon arriving to the office, bypassing the “front desk.”
4. Patients’ time in the waiting room is shortened because the clerical work has already been taken care of. The system tells the staff the patient has arrived, and he or she is called into the exam room by the nurse. If patients have not pre-registered, handheld tablets are available to do so.
Once in the Exam Room:
5. Automated Exam Table: No stop at the scale. The exam tables weigh patients and send that reading electronically to the patient’s chart. Blood pressure and other vital signs are also sent, eliminating transcription errors and saving time. The exam table is also programmed to raise the patient to the appropriate height and into the most common position for examination, again saving time—about 3 minutes per patient visit.
6. Electronic Wall Boards: These interactive digital displays teach patients about conditions and demonstrate treatments better than a plastic model or doctor’s drawing. Every part of the anatomy is available for viewing, along with patient X-rays, test results, information on medicines and even treatments pertinent to their conditions. All can be projected onto these boards to help patients better understand and get them invested their health.