4 Ways Orthopedic Surgeons Can Use the Internet to Their Advantage

Practice Management

Here are four ways orthopedic surgeons can use the Internet to their advantage.

1. Incorporate patient education into the practice website. Physicians can post the patient education information for each treatment or disorder on the website to accompany the information usually given to patients at the office, says Ted Epstein, Director of Sales at Medical Web Experts. If patients lose their education packets, they can go online to find them. Physicians can also include supplemental information on the website and direct patients there after their visits. Having the information available online can also decrease the amount of paper copies made, which cuts practice expenses.

2. Develop an online scheduling system. In order to expedite the waiting room process for open cast patients, the center wanted to create a system that would let patients select a time for their appointment that was convenient and would allow enough time for the patients to complete their paperwork before arriving at the facility, says Daniel Zanotti, MD, a physician at The Center for Orthopedics. The "Fast Track" system enables patients to do just that. After their visit to the ER, they can log on to The Center for Orthopedics website, click on Fast Track scheduling and select a 15-minute interval that works best for them. The site allows patients to see what times are already taken and choose a time up to five days in the future.

After patients select a time, they can then enter their medical histories into the system, which is received by the facility's staff. The history is then waiting for the orthopedist when the patient comes in for a consultation. Dr. Zanotti says that the center hired a website consultant and designer to help create the system. It took multiple trials to get the system working the way the facility wanted it to, and the process took the center more than a year to complete. "It takes a lot longer than one would think because there are a lot of nuances in the system," Dr. Zanotti says. "However, if you have a good developer, it can make the process easier."

3. Use social media to interact with patients. Social media needs to remain a two-way street. After all, that's what sets it apart from traditional websites. On his blog, David Geier, Jr., MD, is an orthopedic surgeon and director of sports medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina, responds to patients' questions. Through a disclaimer, he clarifies that his response contains general information rather than a specific diagnoses or individualized treatment advice. Those who submit questions know ahead of time that Dr. Geier may feature them in future blog posts. He also encourages people to reach out to him via Twitter and e-mail, and shares the locations of his practice.

4. Telerehabilitation. A new study published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery suggests that knee replacement patients undergoing telerehabilitation experience the same results as patients who undergo traditional postoperative rehabilitation. Telerehabilitation is an Internet-based postoperative rehabilitation program that can be conducted from the patient's home and has become a popular alternative for patients who live in remote areas. Following the program, researchers found that participants in the telerehabilitation group achieved outcomes comparable to those of the conventional rehabilitation group, and far better in some results, including a reduction in joint stiffness. These patients also showed significant improvement in specific functional areas designed to mimic daily activities.

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