5 Tips for a More Efficient Physician’s Office

During business hours, you want to focus on helping your patients. But as you know, practicing medicine is about more than what happens in the exam room. By implementing a few small changes, you can increase the level of productivity in your practice. If you want to get more done and make your days less hectic, it’s time to take a look at your office workflow.

Here are five tips for creating a more efficient office:

1. Think like a businessperson. The first step to solving your workflow issues is pinpointing the problem(s). Try this time-tested technique that’s been used by the manufacturing industry for quality improvement—designing a flow map or a visual diagram of a process. Whether it’s your patient check-in or your referral procedure, list all of the steps in order. This exercise can help you identify bottlenecks or complexity so you can standardize and simplify the process. Question the value of each step and then keep the ones that produce results and cut those that simply waste time.

2. Look back. First, you have to understand the contributing causes. Start with the problem and think about all of the possible reasons why it happens. Keep asking yourself why until you’ve tracked the root cause and can use that knowledge to either correct the issue or anticipate future problems. This exercise will be even more fruitful if you involve your staff because they’ll have different perspectives on the issue.

3. Add to your technology toolbox. Yes, sometimes it may seem like technology just complicates things, but the right tools can increase efficiency. Consider how technology could make each workflow process run more smoothly. For instance, there are tools and online programs to help streamline any type of task—from booking appointments and creating patient histories to managing lab results and tracking accounts receivables.

4. Make a game plan for your team. With the move to patient-centered medical homes (PCMH) and a greater focus on providing patients with quality care and greater access to their physicians, many practices are transitioning to a more team-based approach. Delegating tasks and assigning responsibilities is crucial for creating strong teamwork. Map out each step of the patient process from pre- to post-visit, and note who does what.

5. Schedule regular check-ins. Establishing and maintaining efficient processes isn’t a one-time exercise. Over time, problems and solutions may become more apparent, or one adjustment may create the need for others. Revisit your workflow processes on an ongoing basis. Challenge each step and ask questions: How can we save time and energy? Where can we cut some of the back-and-forth or reduce wait times? Set goals and measure progress to determine what works and what doesn’t.

By working with your staff to take a closer look at the office workflow, identify issues, and implement solutions, you’ll boost your staff’s productivity and reduce everyone’s stress levels. Try new strategies to discover what works best—tools, technology, teamwork, or a combination of the three. With a little effort, you’ll establish more efficient processes and be able to focus more fully on your main responsibility—helping your patients get and stay healthy.

 

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