How does your practice work towards improved efficiency?
To put it simply, an efficient practice is a healthy practice. So what do you do when your practice is inefficient? You address the situation in much the same way you address the illnesses that you treat in your patients on a daily basis – make your diagnosis, develop a treatment plan, implement that plan, and use the healing resources available to you. What does that look like exactly? Simply follow these 5 steps.
Step One: Examine the situation. What are the operational challenges in your medical practice?
You’ll want to begin by reviewing your practice’s processes in detail. Map out each process step by step – leaving nothing out. Note how long each step in each process takes and who is involved in completing the steps. Put what you’ve learned on paper so you can clearly see your practice’s current workflow in complete detail.
Step Two: Diagnose the problem. Why is your practice running inefficiently?
Once you have all of your processes on paper, analyze them. Identify where the processes aren’t running smoothly. Pick out the tasks that are taking too long. Notice any bottlenecks and what’s causing them. Be ruthless in determining what is making your process inefficient. Remember, you can’t fix the problem you haven’t identified.
Step Three: Create your treatment plan. How will you correct the inefficiencies in your practice?
So you’ve found your problems; now it’s time to solve them. Do you have unnecessary steps? Eliminate them. Did you find steps that are out of place or could be done differently to make things run more smoothly? Make adjustments. Are your bottlenecks caused by staffing issues? Cross train your existing staff or add staff in areas especially designed to eliminate those hold ups. Directly address each identified problem with a specially designed solution.
Step Four: Implement the treatment plan. Monitor and adjust processes for constant improvement.
Communicate the new processes that you’ve designed as solutions to your efficiency problems to your staff. Implement those processes and consistently monitor them to be sure they’re working as designed. If you see new problems, continue to make adjustments. Processes should be dynamic, not static.
Keep your staff well-informed through office meetings. It’s a good idea to have short daily meetings to prepare for each day’s schedule and anticipate and strategize around potential challenges, as well as longer meetings on a monthly or quarterly basis to address larger issues. Also, be sure to educate patients about changes to process and policy that will affect them in order to keep things running smoothly.
Step Five: Leverage available technology resources. Use healthcare technology to your advantage.
The biggest technological favor you can do for your practice’s efficiency is choosing the right EHR software vendor. Find one that offers a product that is scalable and includes easily customizable pieces so that your software will fit into your existing workflow rather than requiring you to struggle to adjust to the way your software works. It’s also important to choose an EHR that offers features such as ePrescribing, electronic prior authorization (ePA), and side-by-side appointment scheduling to save time and energy and keep your practice running in the most efficient way possible. MicroMD is 2015 Edition certified and features all of these characteristics to provide a seamless EHR experience.
Beyond choosing the right EHR, it’s also a good idea to research additional tech tools to save your staff time and energy. Implementing automated appointment reminders, such as AutoRemind, and a patient portal like Henry Schein Secure Chart are two such tech tools to make your staff’s life easier and improve patient experience through clear and convenient communication.
An inefficient medical office is a drain on everyone, from physicians to patients, but it’s not irreversible. If you simply take the time to follow these five steps, working intentionally to solve each pain point, and make sure you’re using technology to its fullest, your practice will be back to full health in no time.