October 2000 Bulletin

Web can cut practices’ costs

Everything available from medical/surgical supplies to forms

By Rosemarie Nelson

Controlling costs is essential in all walks of life and in a medical practice it is critical to success. Using the Internet can save money and time in many ways. Sources of medical and office supplies, travel, leasing, professional services and expertise, and niche opportunities can be investigated via the Internet. Internet shopping can save time, especially in the educational- or evaluation-phase of the purchase.

Online purchasing can cut your costs for purchasing medical/surgical supplies. Sites such as www.medsite.com, www.webmd.com and www.esurg.com are all oriented to online purchasing. Start with your own regular supplier to determine their online offerings. Office supplies are even easier to source online.

The web can help you focus on your core job–seeing patients–and serve to outsource support functions. Firms with specialists to provide services for payroll, benefits, medical claims processing and patient invoicing are available and can reduce costs within the practice.

The Internet also can provide online training for you and your staff.

Your payroll is probably the second highest expense on your monthly financial report after your facility cost. Using your medical practice web site to provide patient education material and links to reputable sources for your patients will free your staff up from those repeated questions and interrupting phone calls, and allow the staff to focus on the patients present in the practice.

Investigating alternative sources for new or recurring purchases is best initiated with a web search. Consider the following varieties and the functions.

AltaVista: For power searches.

Dogpile: An all-in-one search related to Metacrawler, Dogpile compiles a list of results from many search engines.

Excite: Excite allows you to select what to display.

Google: Still in Beta (testing mode), simple and quite powerful.

HotBot: Very snazzy, with useful search features, from WIRED Magazine.

Infoseek: Part of the GO Network; a great search engine.

Lycos: Your Personal Internet Guide, with customization for various information, such as addresses and pictures.

Metacrawler: One-stop shop that queries many other search engines, organizes results into uniform form and ranks them by relevance.

Metaspy: Provides a list of latest searches performed on other search engines.

Yahoo!: Does more than just search; a portal for e-mail, stock quotes and auctions.

Rosemarie Nelson is a health care information technology consultant in Syracuse, N.Y.

Computer Link welcomes suggestions about future topics for the column and questions about the use of computers in orthopaedic practice. Send your suggestions to the Bulletin at AAOS, 6300 N. River Rd., Rosemont, Ill. 60018.

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