Time is Money: Eliminate Practice Inefficiencies

With diminishing returns in the Post-ACA world, it's more important than ever to get as much as you can out of your limited schedule. Now that it's imperative to see more patients, physicians can't afford to have inefficiencies in their practice. Can the actual time spent with patients be extended by reworking your flow?

Can you spend most of your day with patient appointments instead of practice administration? With a few tips, you can remove inefficiencies and get the most out of your day.

1. Checklists: Create a list of your daily responsibilities and see what you can delegate to your staff. Taking those extra tasks off your plate gives you more time to apply your expertise to patients, instead of worrying about boilerplate tasks that can bog down your schedule. For starters, you can think about delegating elements of patient education to your staff.

2. Mobile Health Apps: As face time with individual patients dwindles, you can rely on medical apps to strengthen patient education and gather important data in between visits. Try to maximize the time you don't spend with your patients in order to get the most out of their scheduled appointments.

3. Patient Education: Create an online newsletter or have an organized stack of medical information stored in your office. If you educate your patient in the particulars of their care, they'll take more ownership and accountability over their health. The result is faster appointments that lead to better resolutions.

4. Patient Portals: Let the patients take some work off of your staff's hands, so they can take work off of yours. Empower your patients by directing them to online portals that take care of appointments and lab results. If the onus is on them to take care of some of your administrative task, you'll free up more time to spend on the kind of care that really requires your expertise.

5. Pre-Visit Forms: Make your patients come with the requisite information before they come in for their appointments. This saves hours of wasted time finding out their medical history, their medications and dosages, their allergies, and any other bits of crucial info that can lead directly to their diagnosis and treatment. Finally (and maybe most importantly)...

6. Your EHR: If you use your EHR properly, you can come away with crucial analytics and data that highlight the inefficiencies of your workflow. Make sure you document everything as concisely and correctly as possible, and have a system in place to make sure your staff indexes the documentation properly. If you do that, you'll have a running set of data that will give insight into your practice's overall performance.

Your EHR should provide you the answers to questions like: am I closing patient interactions daily and correctly? How much time do I spend with each patient? Is my staff operating and assisting me correctly? How does my practice stack up to my competitors? By following these basic tips, you can eliminate inefficiencies and become a fine-tuned practice that maximizes patient outcomes. Some of these principles are easy to implement, while others may take some time.

However long it may be before you eliminate practice inefficiencies, it's worth it to get the most out of your time so that you can see more patients without sacrificing quality of care. If you can do that, then you'll thrive in the Post-ACA world.

About the Author

Dr. Molly is passionate about using technology to improve the lives of patients and healthcare providers. She graduated from the University of Illinois College of...

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