Many people try to increase the profit margin of their practice by cutting services, increasing costs or hoping to sell supplemental products and services to generate more money. However, increasing the productivity of your practices without similarly increasing one’s operating costs or payroll is far more effective. Here are a few tips on how to improve clinic productivity. And note that we’ll ensure that our advice stays within the regulatory requirements that often interfere with clinic efficiency.
Map Your Workflow
The workflow is both the standard flow of patients through the practice and the flow of key personnel as they go through their duties. You want to identify causes of wasted time and effort, and there has been an influx of industrial engineers and Lean experts into the healthcare field to help you do exactly that.
Little things like walking from your office to patients’ rooms instead of from room to room take up non-value added time. Putting a work desk in a central location could eliminate this waste for both doctors and nurses. Adopting electronic medical records and having tablets that can always call them up (and places to charge them and update them as necessary) can streamline operations.
Mapping the billing cycle and patient checkout process could identify wasteful steps that could be combined, or tasks that could be handled assembly line style more quickly.
Only Do Work at Your Credential Level
Physician assistants were widely adopted because their initial checks of a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, weight and other vitals saved a doctor several minutes per patient. This allowed doctors to see more patients per day. Make sure you aren’t asking doctors to do other, more mundane tasks instead of focusing on the diagnostic care only they provide. This can include sending prescriptions to the pharmacy, creating copies of informational brochures for patients, providing explanations on how to use newly prescribed inhalers and giving them information on how to connect with a referred healthcare provider.
Study your workflow to look for tasks that nurses and other staff can do like authorizing refills that don’t require a physician’s signature, or using nurse educators instead of having the doctor lecture those diagnosed with diabetes on how to live with their condition. Don’t have doctors do sonograms but instead hire techs from the best ultrasound technician schools to perform these procedures.
Set Up Patient Portals
Patient portals are websites where patients can view their health records, see reminders for appointments and schedule their next visit. They reduce the need to call patients to discuss test results and allows them to email questions that nurses could answer in a timely manner, or that the doctor can answer when there is free time, which is certainly a more efficient way to do things. Don’t forget to ask patients to upload critical forms like ‘do not resuscitate orders’ and medical power of attorney documents so that your staff don’t have to scramble for them in an emergency.
Improving your clinic efficiency is possible if you follow some of the tips in this article. Doing something simple as mapping your workflow or delegating things like sonography could improve your productivity instantly.