Staff education is an integral part of running a successful medical practice. There are only so many hours in the day that you can dedicate to seeing patients, which means that in order to grow, you will need help from your staff. Thus, investing in staff education benefits everyone involved, including your patients and your practice. This article highlights the importance of staff education to improve patient compliance and outcomes and grow your business.
Patients Are Notoriously Noncompliant
Numerous studies have found that patient compliance is one of the largest obstacles to improved outcomes that physicians face. One 2008 study published in JAAD found that more than 30% of new prescriptions for topical medications are never redeemed, with an astounding 50% of prescriptions for psoriasis medications that are never filled. Moreover, among those patients who do fill their prescriptions, 95% of them are not using the correct amount, according to a similar study.
After being evaluated by a physician, 17 first-time dermatologic patients were given new topical prescriptions with specific instructions about how much to use. These measurements were determined based on the size of the treatment area and explained to patients in terms of “palms of the hand,” which was estimated to be about 0.25 grams of the product. Two weeks later, a questionnaire was mailed to each patient, asking questions about the size of the treatment area and intentions to follow the treatment guidelines. The treatment containers were also collected and weighed to determine how much had been used.
Although this study was small, it found that only one patient used the correct amount. Two patients never redeemed their prescriptions, and the remainder of the patients only used about 35% of the expected dosage. When using such a small percentage of the prescribed amount, no treatment is going to produce the expected results, which can leave patients frustrated.
Improved Physician Communication Boosts Compliance
While patient compliance can be a roadblock to improved outcomes and therefore patient satisfaction, increased physician communication can have a significant impact on adherence. A 2006 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine revealed that, on average, physicians discuss the possible adverse events for only about 35% of medications, how long to take the medication for 34%, and how many tablets to take for 55%.
Thus, lack of communication can be a large contributor to patient misunderstandings, underdosing, and noncompliance. However, as physicians, there is not enough time in the day to address every question a patient has and to discuss the specifics of his or her treatment regimen in length. For this reason, it is crucial that your staff is properly educated and equipped with the right tools to help your patients get the answers they are looking for so they can stick to their prescribed treatment and see results.
How to Effectively Educate Staff, Increase Communication, and Save Time
As a physician myself, I can empathize with the need to delegate tasks in order to save time and accommodate the individual needs of your patients. However, in order to offer patients the help and guidance they need, staff members need to be properly educated, encouraged, and motivated. That is why I developed the Skin Type Solutions system to help with staff education and consistency in my Miami dermatology practice.
The STS system guides your entire staff on how to educate patients about their cosmeceutical and prescription regimens. Once you have chosen what cosmeceuticals and prescription medications that you prefer for a particular skin type and condition, these are chosen in the software. Then patient instructions, including step-by-step regimens, are generated by the STS software. You can adjust the regimens if desired before they are printed and appear in the patient’s mobile app.
The entire system is based on the fact that facial skin can be divided into phenotypes. A treatment plan can be decided for each phenotype based on the underlying skin issues that their skin type suffers from. The STS system divides patients into 16 skin types based on the way the patient answers questions in the Digital Diagnostic Questionnaire. Once the Baumann Skin Type® is determined, a pre-populated information sheet is generated that describes in detail the unique characteristics of the patient’s skin type, as well as a recommended skin care regimen. Using this software allows consistency and ensures that all staff members have access to the same information and are able to answer patient questions accurately.
When equipped with the right information in their hands as they walk out your door, patients will feel empowered to follow the proper skin care regimen to see the results they’re hoping for. With the right systems and staff education program in place, this can be accomplished without requiring an additional time commitment from you, yet you can rest assured that your patients are receiving accurate and thorough information.
If you are interested in learning more about the Skin Type Solutions system and how to implement it in your own practice, please contact us online, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us at 305-714-5322.
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