As a doctor, time is one of your greatest assets. And your time is best spent serving your patients. But in many medical practices, valuable hours and productivity are lost due to poor workflow and inefficiencies. Everything from a slow computer to a poorly trained receptionist can cost your practice precious time, money, and even patients. Here are some steps you can start taking immediately to streamline the way your practice operates.
Focus on your front office
Make sure you’re not only hiring the best people to provide a strong first impression of your practice, but training them properly as well. In an article on the top 15 challenges facing physicians in 2015, Medical Economics cites rising operational costs as number eight. One way to combat this is to maximize your people by “ensuring the highest and best use of all personnel” and emphasizing communication, education, and flexibility.
Your front office employees deserve quality training and tools to do their jobs, just as your clinical staff does. Have you implemented a new EHR, patient portal, or patient education program? Make sure your staff is trained on how to use these new tools and how to explain them to patients in order to get the maximum benefits.
Slow computers, confusing floor plans, overly complicated login processes to access scheduling or patient files — all of these add up to lost time, frustrated employees, and a bad impression on patients. Get in the habit of regularly asking front desk staff what they need to do their jobs better. An extra computer monitor or a new front office layout could help you realize big gains in efficiency.
Consider your waiting room
Efficient medical practices know that if things are running well, patients shouldn’t have to spend much time in the waiting room. They also know that allowing patients to be productive while they wait is a win-win. Patients will be less apt to notice — or mind — the wait. And if they’re given the opportunity to learn from high-quality patient education materials, their time in the exam room will be more productive. Patients will come in already knowing the basics, so doctors can get right to addressing their specific questions and needs.
Make your waiting room more efficient and productive by providing free Wi-Fi and patient education videos on tablets or TVs. Also consider switching out your paper forms and letting patients check in on iPads. Numerous patient registration apps are available, and some are even free.
Maximize time with patients
When it comes to patient care, the key to maximizing your time may be streamlining your processes in the exam room and between appointments. According to Medical Economics, every exam room should be stocked with supplies, forms, and equipment in the same place, and restocked as needed throughout the day.
It’s also a good idea to create a “flow station,” such as a computer on wheels, to allow you to quickly check your EHR or make phone calls between appointments without having to go back to your office. Shared workstations also foster communication among the rest of the clinical staff.
For more on this topic, see Design Your Office to Improve the Patient Experience
Another way to maximize your time and revenues is to minimize no-shows. Sending patients appointment reminders via email or text — instead of, or in addition to, phone reminders — may help. More than 75 percent of respondents to a FICO survey of smartphone users say they are eager for their doctors to use mobile technology for appointment reminders. Some EHRs and patient portals include this function, so you may already have this capability and not realize it.
Online appointment scheduling is another option patients desire, and it can benefit doctors, too. ZocDoc, as well as other online scheduling services, allows practices to offer online appointments on their own website through a widget, as well as on the ZocDoc site. This feature can help fill unexpectedly empty appointment slots, and attract new patients. If you have an EHR or patient portal, check to see if it offers an online appointment-scheduling feature.
With proper attention, planning, and the right technology, you can streamline your practice operations, save time, and boost your bottom line.
For more quick tips on working technology into your office and making your patient education program high-tech, efficient, and engaging, contact us today.