Clinic management has come a long way over the last 6,000 years. From the earliest recorded history when priests would treat only the wealthiest members of society in temple sanctuaries, to now, when software allows clinicians to instantly retrieve patient data, from over the course of many years and even from multiple sources, to provide better care.
The future of clinic management will hold even more drastic changes – artificial intelligence (AI) and 3D printing are being touted as the next healthcare revolutions – and you can expect to start seeing them being part of everyday clinical practice.
From 4,000 BCE to the 18th Century
The clinics of yesteryear were a long way from the state-of-the-art institutions we benefit from today. Going as far back into history as Greece in 4,000 BCE, priests would treat sick and injured wealthy members of society in temple sanctuaries that were dedicated to the healing god, Asclepius. The first modern progression in the clinic industry came in the late 17th century when The London Dispensary opened.
This clinic was the first of its kind, with the purpose of treating the ill and dispensing medicine to the sick in one location, rather than the more traditional physician’s house call. This model proved successful in England and beyond, paving the way for similar clinics to open across North America throughout the 18th century. New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston were the first to open dispensaries across the Atlantic.
20th Century Innovations
In the early 20th century in North America, clinics focused not just on treating illness, but also preventing it. New York and Philadelphia were the first cities to open health centres dedicated to both prevention and cure of diseases. This initiative was designed to combat an outbreak of tuberculosis and was backed by local government health services.
Over time, the management of these clinics became more in line with technological innovations such as telephones and computers. Before these inventions, patient records and clinician’s notes were handwritten and manually filed. With the introduction of the computer, clinics could create databases that stored patient information, ready to be retrieved by caregivers at the touch of a button.
The Internet and Software Age
The invention of the internet allowed clinics to become much more efficient. For instance, intranet portals were created where patients could access their medical records, make appointments, request prescriptions and research further medical information.
The most recent developments in clinic management have focused on convenience for all, including patients, clinicians, and clinic staff. Clinicians can now see their patients via video calling; limiting the need for patients to physically come into the practice, allowing clinicians to see more patients per hour.
Another innovation is cloud-based integrated practice management software. This offers clinics a more secure server where patients can access their records with a guarantee of privacy and from the convenience of their mobile phones. Clinicians are also able to use software programs for the following needs:
- Creating patient reports (auto-generated forms, patient medical history trends, critical findings)
- An e-billing system that is paperless, efficient and accurate
- Submitting certifications and forms to health regulation bodies
- An automated and user-friendly scheduling program that allows them to plan and manage appointments months in advance.
What the Future Holds
Artificial Intelligence (AI) and 3D printing are the next steps for clinics – AI can be applied in a variety of ways within the clinic, from eliminating the requirement for live test subjects in clinical trials, to something as simple as taking phone calls and serving as chatbots online to assist patient queries.
3D printing has also proved incredibly ground-breaking in the field of medicine and healthcare. This technology is already being used in hospitals to replicate human anatomy, and will soon be extended for use in chiropractic clinics to gain a more in-depth understanding of the spine, and help clinicians use a more hands-on method of conducting their practices as opposed to seeing models on a computer.
The evolution of clinic management has seen plenty of ground-breaking milestones, and there are more on the horizon. What would those priests from 4,000 BCE think about using a cloud-based computer software that shows them a patient’s whole medical history in all its complexity at the touch of a button? The idea would have been outrageous – after all what was a computer anyway? – There are undoubtedly many unimaginable innovations awaiting healthcare practitioners as they make the most of cutting-edge technology to improve their practice.