Tech Tips and Tools For Busy Specialist Practices
Running a Specialist Practice means lots of time with patients and time spent organising information. Here are some of the best tech tips and tools to help. A minute saved is a minute earned – you can use these productivity tips to save time and get your work done and go home earlier: We’ll assume you’re utilizing standard Windows/Office software unless otherwise noted.
1. Learn to use TEMPLATES for your emails and letters – try QUICK PARTS for inserting templates in Outlook Emails
You can create templates in Outlook for text and phrases that you use repeatedly. Go to outlook, click on Insert tab and Quick Parts in the toolbar. For both storage and retrieval of really useful phrases.
2. Save time in your Outlook inbox by setting up and managing your emails inbox with RULES
You likely get a lot of emails, so it’s worthwhile to get control of them by setting up management rules. In Outlook, select the Organize tab, then select Rules within the toolbar. Choose Create New Rule to see the predefined options. For example, you may want to move every email from a certain person into a specified folder. Or maybe you’d like to forward emails from a designated person to your personal email account. You can also create rules to run on a given schedule; this works great for cleaning up your inbox (e.g., every six months, delete all emails from your accountant). Also consider using SANEBOX as an addon.
3. Taking SCREEN SHOTS and screen snippets.
If you want to capture your entire screen press your Windows key and the Print Screen key simultaneously. The image will be saved to your clipboard; you can then paste it into an email, Word document or PowerPoint and send it on. If you want to capture just part of your screen, select the Snipping Tool, then drag your cursor around the area you want to capture.
4. Use Loom or PSR for Recording computer steps, process or problems to train others.
Want to show someone a process or a problem that has popped up in a program? There’s a useful tool within Windows called the Problem Steps Recorder. Find it by clicking the Start button and searching for “psr.” The application allows you to record exactly what you’re doing, step-by-step on your screen. You can type in notes for each screenshot and that will be saved as a zip file, which you can email to your technical help.
Loom.com is also great for recording how to do things.
5. Locating and searching for FILES.
In Windows Explorer, locate File Manager in the upper-right corner. You can search by file name, date modified, file type or file size. Alternatively, press the Windows key from the Start menu and enter the name of the file you’d like to find.
6. Using keyboard SHORTCUTS.“Hot keys” enable you to quickly carry out a function without having to select options from the top-of-screen menus.
- Ctrl Z – UNDO an action
- Ctrl F will allow you to FIND A DOCUMENT
- Ctrl P allows you to PRINT a document on your screen.
- Ctrl A will SELECT all the text on a page in Word or an entire worksheet within Excel.
- Ctrl H to do a FIND/REPLACE
- Ctrl C will COPY everything that’s highlighted;
- Ctrl V will PASTE it somewhere else.
- Ctrl X will CUT whatever you have highlighted.
7. Personalizing your emails with SIGNATURES. When you open up a new email, the Signature button on your toolbar allows you to set up a standard signature block (name, title, address, phone number) that will appear at the bottom of your message. You can choose to add it to all emails, or you can set up multiple signatures for multiple purposes.
8. Sending and accessing BIG FILES.Rather than using unsecured thumbdrives, you can store documents in the cloud and then access them in a secure fashion from any location. Services include DropBox, hightail.com, Google Drive, Apple’s iCloud as well as OneDrive from Microsoft. These services also allow you to control access to specific documents.
9. Shortening URLs. If you have a long web address, such as the link to a journal article, that you’d like to shorten for use on Twitter etc where character count is limited? Free services such as Bitly, HootSuite and Google Shortener (goo.gl) will do the trick. Simply paste in your long URL where indicated and the program will provide you with a shortened version. Or Create A QR Code. There are many websites where you can create QR codes by entering your URL. The QR code can then be read by a smartphone app. Some phones come with a free QR reader app already included; others can be downloaded for free. The user scans the code, which then redirects to the URL.
10. Securing and Remembering PASSWORDS.It’s helpful to have a variety of passwords to prevent unauthorized access to personal or business information, but that can be cumbersome if you have many passwords that need to be changed frequently. Password managers such as LastPass or OnePass allow you to store in encrypted fashion all of your passwords; you only have to remember one secure password to gain access to all your passwords. Keep in mind, however, if you lose your master password, all password-protected data will be gone.
A note on Password management. Passwords, while they can be troublesome, are a necessity. Be sure that you force a password change for all users on your network at least once per quarter. Do not allow staff to post their passwords anywhere. Change all passwords for all staff and providers whenever an employee resigns or is terminated. Check out RoboForm. It provides a master password and inserts a toolbar into your browser to auto-logon for up to 10 applications for free ($29.95 for more).
11. Use a good Anti-Virus Security Program like Norton or McAfee to prevent viruses and hacking on your phone and computer.
12. Use “Post-it” notes in Outlook
Outlook includes a built-in sticky notes feature. Press Ctrl+Shift+N from anywhere in the Outlook interface to create a new note, which can be dragged and positioned anywhere on screen. By default, notes appear in pale yellow, but you can assign them to categories, which causes them to switch to the associated colour. To manage your notes, click on the Note icon at the bottom of the View pane: From here you can copy, organise and print notes, and also search, via the field at the top-right of the window, for notes containing specific text.
13. Use A Mobile phone Photo Archiver makes it easy for you to scan any barcode and then get snap happy while the photos you shoot are immediately archived under that barcode. Later, export your photo archive to your PC. This app will save you time, energy, and money. Useful for – pics for Medical records http://picturearchiver.com/
14. Use TEXT EXPANSION to save typing – can also use text expansion tools which save you the trouble of typing repetitive messages etc. There’s a wide variety of text expansion apps:
15. Use Calendly or Doodle for Scheduling a meeting between busy people
It is almost impossible to avoid meetings but you can decrease the time spent on these gatherings. Make the scheduling process more efficient with Calendly, the productivity tool for finding a collectively suitable meeting time. Set your availability preferences in Calendly, send invites to others and let your invitees choose a time that’s convenient for them.
By using an automated scheduling tool, you can avoid time-consuming emailing process, ensure that the meeting time fits to everyone’s calendars and propose the time of day that matches with your higher daily productivity levels.
Tip: Keep your meetings short. Schedule 30-minute meetings instead of 1-hour long and ask everyone to outline their key points before the appointment. You’ll spend less time discussing irrelevant topics and keep to the initial agenda.
16. Collate all your best IDEAS with MS Onenote or Evernote or Pocket
How do you manage your ideas that appear while working on a task? Do you write down the ideas in your notebook or just let them pass by? Use Evernote’s browser extension to quickly make a note of your idea and come back to it later.
Evernote is the most widely used productivity tool for managing ideas, tasks and to-do lists. Gather everything you need to remember in one place and create notebooks to organize data, finding it more efficiently. It is difficult to remember everything, so make notes and never lose an important piece of information. Tip: Add your frequently used email templates, note formats and online links to Evernote notebook to copy-paste them instead of typing all over again.
Pocket (getpocket.com). You also spend a lot of time on the Internet doing research for cases or maybe even preparing presentations or blog articles. Pocket is my favorite tool for saving web articles and videos to read later. Once saved to Pocket, the list of content is visible on any device—phone, tablet, or computer. It can be viewed while waiting in line, on the couch, during commutes or travel—even off-line. Free and premium versions are available.
17. Build your own practice with PracBuilder (pracbuilder.com).
The most successful specialists build and nurture their network of patients and professional contacts. As a young specialist, it’s important to cultivate strong networking relationships right from the start and remain top-of-mind in order to get referrals and grow your practice. Although this may seem like a daunting task, PracBuilder makes this easy by organizing your contacts and automatically creating a plan to stay in touch with them. It is an easy platform to learn and use. Import your contacts from Outlook, Gmail (Google Contacts), or an Excel file. The price is US$30 per month.
MORE TECH TIPS FOR PRACTICES
- Use a QR or Quick response code for marketing. By scanning a QR code (similar to a bar code) using a smartphone camera, you can access data that links your phone directly to a webpage. For example, if you add QR codes to patient statements, patients can easily link to your payment page online. There are multiple, free QR code generation websites: Qrstuff.com, Zxing.appspot.com/generator, Quikqr.com. Create the code, print it, and you’re set.
- You can manage all your newsletter subscriptions and promotional emails effectively in Outlook with Unroll.me
- You can use programs like Slack or Asana for internal communication and co-ordination.
- Share your screen with others using join.me or zoom.us
- Run Online Meetings – using www.zoom.us or MS Teams.
- Patient surveys. Surveymonkey, Typeform or Survey on the Spot a free app in Apple’s online store, allows you to gather instant feedback on your practice with custom surveys; see compiled survey results in your account and get software alerts when a patient rates your service as poor.