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3 Workflow Improvements to Address Orthopedic Practice Challenges

Managing an Orthopedic practice comes with its own unique challenges. Studies report some of the top challenges of an orthopedic practice as:

  • High patient volumes
  • Managing several concentrations
  • Inefficiencies in use of clinician’s time
  • Maintaining profitability in the face of declining reimbursements
  • Responding to government regulations

You can resolve these challenges by digitizing three critical workflows – the patient, the front-office and the clinical. Let’s look at the considerations for digitizing these workflows.

The Patient Workflow

Orthopedic practices see many patients with painful injuries. Do you think standing in a queue with a leg fracture is a positive experience? Or having to fill several paper forms with a hand injury? Some workflow improvements that can end these inconveniences are:

  • Offer patients the flexibility to pre-register from home using a mobile device
  • At the front office, offer them digital forms on a tablet which will save them from the pain of dealing with paper forms using injured hands
  • For existing patients, populate the digital forms with details already available in the EHR/PM. They can review and confirm if these details are correct instead of filling them again.
  • Do not use standard forms for all concentrations and visit types. Offer customized forms which are relevant for specific visit types, injuries or concentration.
  • Include digital pain sheets in the workflow to capture patient pain areas. These forms will allow patients to draw on an anatomical drawing and enter notes.

The Front-office Workflow

Studies reveal that on an average, ortho practices see thirty patients per day. This is significantly higher patient volume compared to most other practices. Many concentrations available in an ortho practice usually requires complex workflows. Front office staff are also burdened with insurance eligibility verification and copay collection. Some ways to reduce their burden are:

  • Convert the patient intake into a ‘self-service’ process for the patients. This will avoid manual data entry, scanning, sending and storing paper forms. Dealing with illegible handwriting & errors will also no longer be a problem.
  • Automate patient assessments based on pre-defined rules. This way, the front office no longer has to keep a tab of which assessment to administer to which patient. An ortho practice can automate Fall Risk, Quick Dash, Fat Neck assessments and more.
  • Bring in electronic eligibility verification to let patients know their co-pay and deductibles
  • Offer ‘self-service payments’ and different payment methods to patients
  • A lot of injuries that fall under the category of workers compensation are ortho related. Design a worker compensation workflow to avoid manual efforts in the workflow.

The Clinician Workflow

According to a study by Becker’s spine, providers spend half of their time on EHR and desk work. Even in the examination room, they spend roughly half the time only for direct clinical face time.

This coupled with the high volume of patients they see can result in physician burn out. Some ways to bring in efficiency to the clinical workflow are:

  • Offer them tools for easy review and reconciliation of a patient’s clinical updates.
  • Auto-update the reconciled clinical data in the EHR as discrete data.


Digitization is the key to solving many challenges of an ambulatory practice. Yet, no two practices are the same. Choose a solution that meets your specialty needs in general, and your own practice needs in particular.


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