First seen in Independent Practitioner Today
How Healthcode's ePractice manager system has supported a growing podiatric practice and helped improve cashflow by 20%
Between 75% and 80% of the UK adult population have some form of foot problem according to the Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists. An increasing number now seek help from consultant podiatric surgeon Mr Ernest Barlow-Kearsley at one of his private clinics in London and Surrey.
After training as a podiatrist in his native South Africa, Mr Barlow-Kearsley came to the UK in 1993 and established his first practice five years later. In 2001 he was awarded his Fellowship in Podiatric Surgery (FCPodS) and completed his 3 year post-fellowship training at a number of acute and community based podiatric surgical centres, including Doncaster West PCT and Homerton University NHS Trust. He received his Certificate of Completion in Surgical Training (CCST) from the Faculty of Podiatric Surgery in 2004 and now practices within the NHS and independently.
Mr Barlow-Kearsley established Total Footcare Solutions in 2011 to reflect the comprehensive nature of the podiatric treatments he provides, including minor surgery; podiatric surgery for conditions such as bunions; injection therapy for painful joint or trigger point pain relief; and orthotics to relieve pain from conditions such as Plantar Fasciitis and fallen arches. His three private clinics are at Charing Cross Hospital and the Cadogan Clinic in London, and the Weybridge Footcare Centre, Surrey. In addition, he runs courses for trainee and experienced podiatric surgeons at Imperial College, London and is regularly invited to work and attend conferences overseas.
As his practice has expanded, Mr Barlow-Kearsley has come to depend on a practice management system which helps his PA manage his busy diary and enables him to manage his invoicing and cashflow. He explains:
“Four years ago, it could take me up to a day to produce my invoices manually. That was obviously not a good use of my time so I started looking around for a system which would automate the process and represent good value for money. Many of the systems seemed very expensive but then I discovered Healthcode’s ePractice manager which provided the e-billing facility I needed at the right price.”
Since he began using ePractice manager Mr Barlow-Kearsley has been highly impressed by the capabilities of its efficient e-billing facility. This allows him to populate invoices with all the information that his different insurers require such as patient information, episode details and procedure codes and to present them for online validation in a couple of hours, a fraction of the time it took before. Information which is missing or incomplete is flagged up at this stage so that electronic invoices are processed and paid by insurers without time-consuming queries. Easy-to-read paper invoices can also be generated for the handful of insurers who do not accept electronic data transfer, and for the minority of patients who are self-funded.
Mr Barlow-Kearsley is enthusiastic about the financial benefits of the system which enables him to see instantly what invoices are outstanding, as well as making budgetary planning much more straightforward. “It has made my life so much easier” he says, “and most importantly, cash flow has improved by approximately 20% because insurers such as BUPA can process electronic invoices more quickly which means I get paid sooner. This has made it much easier to optimise our working capital and fund administrative support. I only wish that all the insurance companies I deal with are able to accept invoices electronically!”
In terms of clinical administration, Mr Barlow-Kearsley admits: “I think I’d be in serious trouble without the diary management feature on ePractice manager! It means I can focus on treating patients while my PA is able to coordinate my appointments remotely across the three practice locations and book the theatre time I need for surgical procedures at Charing Cross Hospital, The Cadogan clinic or Cobham Day Surgery Unit.”
Mr Barlow-Kearsley’s PA uses Healthcode’s membership enquiry service to check each patient’s policy number with the relevant insurer and confirm they are policyholders which saves time. She can also create summary reports for each new appointment so her boss knows what to expect when he meets a patient for the first time.
In addition, the practice makes use of the system’s waiting-list and cancellation-tracking features to keep track of prospective patients and ensure they are able to receive the care they need at the first opportunity.
Mr Barlow-Kearsley hopes to grow Total Footcare Solutions in the next five years and is also exploring the idea of a lower limb diagnostic centre in collaboration with other medical professionals, such as sports doctors and physiotherapists.
He is confident that the scalability of ePractice manager will allow him to do this without the need for expensive upgrades. Indeed, he notes that the system will help him develop ever more efficient ways managing the business side of the practice, such as financial reports that he can create and share with his accountant. He is keen to explore other features such as note-taking.
Mr Barlow-Kearsley readily agrees that his faith in the system also reflects the support he has received from Healthcode from the outset. He concludes: “They have been fantastic. There has never been a problem too big or small for them – they are always dealt with professionally. I would be happy to recommend Healthcode and ePractice manager to any independent practitioner.”