Case study: automating secretarial tasks

Introduction

Santis

Santis is a leading London clinic specialising in advanced robotic surgery for prostate cancer. They treat hundreds of men every year, and introduced Carebit to automate many administrative tasks that are critical to running their practice.

The initial results were astonishing. In the first full month of service, Carebit performed 38 hours worth of human work in just 17 minutes, saving them over £700 in secretarial costs. Not only was there an enormous time saving, but the work performed by Carebit was free of human error.

The problem

The initial need for automation

Santis was launched in July 2017, and from the beginning the three founders decided that they would be the first prostate cancer group in the UK to actively record patient quality of life and outcomes after surgery using questionnaires known as PROMs (Patient Reported Outcome Measures).

Prostate cancer surgery performed by relatively inexperienced surgeons can lead to a significantly impaired quality of life for patients, with issues such as impotence and incontinence commonly reported. Santis was convinced that their dedication to delivering the best possible outcomes for patients coupled with their experience, skill and facilities, would be evidenced in the data collected.

This impartially-reported digital data would be tremendously useful not only academically in promoting to other surgeons the benefits of the new complex surgical techniques employed by Santis, but also for prospective patients by helping them to see clearly how men of a similar age and cancer profile had fared after undergoing surgery, and therefore why they might want to select Santis for treatment.

However, a key issue was one of resources. Given the anticipated patient volumes of hundreds of patients per year, Santis simply did not have the staff resources to post or email the right questionnaires at the right time to patients, and then for staff to enter in the responses into a computer manually. There had to be a better way.

The solution

Automated questionnaires emailed out each day

Santis worked with Carebit to implement an automated system that would automatically enrol a patient into the questionnaire service when they made a booking for surgery. The patient would then be emailed at set intervals around this surgery date - 7 days before, 7 days after, 4 weeks after, 3/6/12/18 months after and then 2/3/4/5 years after.

In this email was a unique link to a secure page where the patients were told what the questionnaire was for, and then invited to submit their encrypted responses electronically to the Carebit database. Patients were able to fill out the questionnaires on the device that best suited them: on a desktop at work or on a smartphone or iPad at home.

As of April 2019, Santis has collected over 3,100 questionnaires from over 330 patients. The service runs every morning at 6am and is totally hands-off, with no secretarial or clinical effort required. Santis can get on with their focus of delivering the best patient care while it runs silently in the background.

“The automation ability of Carebit has allowed us to collect over 37,000 individual patient responses regarding their perception of their outcomes in a way that would have been quite impossible manually, and has allowed us to lead the UK in this field.”

Professor Christopher Eden
Professor Christopher Eden
Leading robotic radical prostatectomy expert, Santis

Further automation

Clinic lists

Each week, a clinic list must be prepared by the secretary for the Santis consultant. It’s a simple list of all the patients the consultant is seeing that week, including key patient data, GP information and what the treatment/service being provided is. The hospital where the patient is being seen also needs the data for their records.

Before Carebit, this was done by hand which took approximately 3 hours each week. With Carebit, the task runs automatically at 6am every Tuesday morning and a draft list is emailed automatically to the consultant’s secretary.

Further automation

Automatic invoice issuance & online payment

Having to issue invoices to self-pay patients and ensuring they were paid in a timely manner was consuming a lot of time for Santis. As a small clinic, it was hard to keep on top of who had paid. Worse still, sometimes secretaries would forget to issue an invoice, meaning more time had to be spent chasing up patients months after their appointment, costing both time and money.

With Carebit, PDF invoices are generated automatically when a self-pay patient has made an appointment and are emailed directly to them. As the invoices include a convenient link to pay online using Carebit, patients can pay instantly 24/7 using a debit or credit card - which has proved to be very popular - and frequently patients pay just minutes after receiving the invoice.

When a patient pays by card, Carebit automatically marks the invoice as paid and transfers the payment to the doctor directly 7 days later, so Santis doesn’t need to lift a finger. Santis has even configured Carebit to cancel self-pay appointments if invoices have not been paid by the day of the appointment, ensuring a 100% collections rate.

“Carebit is a user-friendly practice management platform which is easy to learn and use. I rely on its many features to run Santis, where it assists tremendously in the smooth running of the office. For example, the legally-required initial consultation letter for patients is generated, appended with the doctor’s signature, and emailed to the patient as soon as an initial consultation is booked. If a patient is self-pay, an invoice is created and emailed to the patient directly prior to the consultation taking place and the consultant can view an interactive, up-to-date clinic list at any time. All of this happens without my having to do anything.

The time it has saved me is tremendous, leaving me to be able to run a more efficient, reliable office. I would strongly recommend Carebit to any clinic no matter how big or small. The team at Carebit listen to and understand how important the role I play in the company is, and assist me by adding features to Carebit as I discover the need for them.”

Mrs Simone Castle
Mrs Simone Castle
Secretary, Santis

Further automation

Initial consultation letters

When a patient first makes an appointment to see a private doctor, legally that doctor must issue to the patient a letter outlining their fees, quality commitment information and their financial interest in the clinic. The letter also states that in the event of private medical insurance not covering any fees then the patient is liable to pay them, so it forms an important contract between the patient and the clinic.

As patient volumes began to increase in mid-2018, Santis were spending a lot of time sending out these letters. By automating them through Carebit so that they were generated and emailed as soon as the patient’s first booking was made, it’s one less thing to worry about. The letters even include the doctor’s signature.

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