Swedish healthcare clinics use cloud-based solution to streamline patient care
By Microsoft on January 30, 2017
Filed under Health
Praktikertjänst is a staff-owned private health and dental care company in Sweden. It wanted to reduce administration time for its nurses and doctors and increase the speed and availability of healthcare for its primary care patients. Praktikertjänst deployed CollaboDoc, a solution based on Microsoft Azure that streamlines the patient check-in process. Now medical data is digitized, patients spend less time in waiting rooms, and nurses and doctors can devote more time to what they truly want to do—treat members of the community.
A healthcare provider with a classic challenge
A citizen in Sweden is sick; she needs to see a doctor and get a prescription, but doesn’t know if she can take the time off work and finish the appointment before she has to go pick up her son from school. Long wait times in doctor’s offices can be stressful for patients and their families and discourage patients from coming in right away.
Praktikertjänst understood this concern. Founded in 1960, Praktikertjänst is the largest private healthcare provider in Sweden. It offers services in dental care and medical fields such as surgery, radiology, gynecology, and physical therapy in 86 primary healthcare centers throughout the country. Praktikertjänst saw that clinic nurses spent a lot of time answering phone calls to schedule appointments. When patients came in, nurses asked a series of questions about symptoms and medical history, wrote down the answers, handed them to doctors, and later entered all the data into the electronic medical record—all of which took away valuable time from actual patient care. Doctors were also affected. At the end of the day, they had to dictate their notes for medical records, adding another administrative burden to their already busy workloads.
A cloud-based solution transforms the primary care process
Praktikertjänst wanted to find a solution that would address these challenges. It didn’t have to look far for the right answer: in 2014, a thoracic surgeon founded CollaboDoc, a Microsoft CityNext partner that developed a cloud-based acute care tool to increase collaboration between medical staff and patients, augmenting process efficiency. “He saw that process thinking was less developed in the primary care sector compared to other healthcare areas, and he recognized great potential to update processes and take better care of patients,” says Göran Modin, Business Area Director for Primary Healthcare and Rehabilitation at Praktikertjänst.
By May 2016, the health provider had decided to work with CollaboDoc to deploy a solution by the same name in two clinics, as a proof-of-concept trial. Based on the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, the patent-pending solution streamlines the patient check-in process with standardized questions and also collects data that medical institutions can use to improve patient care.
Now, when patients come into the waiting room, they go to a kiosk with a flat screen, choose from a list of symptoms, and answer questions tailored to the reason they came in plus relevant medical history. “The electronic forms are all standardized and easy to fill out,” says Modin. “All the symptoms that a patient would see a doctor for in light acute care are scaled down to a few concepts.” The provider found the new check-in process as an ideal fit for the Praktikertjänst patients who most commonly come in for back and knee pain, allergies, tick bites, and throat, ear, eye, and urinary tract infections.
Once the patient submits the form, the system notifies the nurses in the office, who can quickly check the replies to ensure there are no gaps. Once they approve, then the form pops up automatically on the doctor’s screen, who is then equipped with all the information necessary to serve the patient.
Increased efficiency and availability of healthcare
Because the whole patient check-in process is streamlined in CollaboDoc, nurses and doctors can treat patients more quickly. The clinics have seen a 25 percent decrease in incoming phone calls, and nurses spend less time scheduling appointments by phone because more patients are walking in. “The solution attracted patients, and at the same time, the number of phone calls went down because patients know that they can just show up,” says Jennie Stenström, District Nurse at Praktikertjänst.
Doctors spend less time dictating notes and digitizing patient data, cutting their administration time by an average of 50 percent, which allows them to see patients sooner. “I haven’t had a single patient who’s been unhappy with this solution,” Stenström continues. “Patients have greater confidence in the availability of our medical service, and they’re more likely to come into the clinic now that they have a sense of security that they’ll see a doctor quickly.”
Through the Azure cloud platform, CollaboDoc collects and stores data such as patient age, wait times, and symptoms, which the clinic uses to transform its ability to serve patients and optimize staffing. For example, Praktikertjänst can now see that certain illnesses are more common in summer than winter and prepare supplies and equipment accordingly. It can also see which times of day, days of the week, and times of year are busier, and adjust staffing more precisely to meet patient needs.
Attracts patients and increases revenue
The clinic where Stenström works is open from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM daily. With CollaboDoc, it can easily see up to 67 percent more patients if needed during that same time period. Doctors can see more patients each day than they could previously. “In one of our primary care clinics, the solution has helped us save roughly the equivalent of one doctor’s time in a unit of just five doctors,” says Modin. He adds that each clinic has the flexibility to choose how to use that saved time; it might employ one less doctor in the clinic, take more patients, or develop new work processes in the clinic.
Praktikertjänst has already experienced a definitive return on its CollaboDoc investment. The solution has attracted more patients, and it’s also based on the scalable subscription model of Azure, where customers only pay for what they need. “We’ve seen an ROI of about three times what we invested,” says Modin. “CollaboDoc definitely pays off from a straight economic point of view, but of course a huge part of the value is that work is less stressful for our staff and patients are happier.”
Engages patients in their own care
Praktikertjänst has transformed its patient services because patients are now more fully engaged in their own medical care. By using the kiosk to read and answer questions, patients have time to think through their symptoms and timeline. “With this solution, patients feel more engaged in the process and better prepared by the time they talk to the doctor,” says Stenström.
Modin and Stenström see more possibilities for the solution in the future. “The healthcare sector has significant opportunities to increase patient involvement in processes and further tailor the questions about symptoms,” says Modin. “The CollaboDoc solution can continue to develop to help us provide more efficient, cost-effective, patient-first medical services.”