7 Ways to Optimize Workflow in Private Practice
Physicians today are faced with decreasing reimbursement and increasing costs, which means improving efficiency is not only important to a medical practice it is critical for success. By encouraging employees to get involved in the workflow optimization process, a practice can gain valuable information, determine new ways to reduce inefficiencies, and improve upon current processes. Staff members know their jobs better than anyone else and can provide great ideas for improvement. Valuing their input can help boost morale and encourage positive changes while saving the practice time and money.
The following are a few simple strategies that can help a medical practice optimize workflow and improve efficiency:
- Create a workflow map- When optimizing workflow it is important to start by creating a workflow map. Workflow mapping is the process of documenting the steps and actions it takes to complete an individual task. Creating a workflow map allows a practice to see what is currently happening, identify inefficiencies and find opportunities for improvement.
- Utilize the practice website-There is a host of information and services that can be made available on a practice's website. Use technology to reduce administrative tasks. Encourage patients to register, schedule their appointments, and complete their medical history online. Prescription refills can be filled, and test results can be viewed online as well. The return on investment will be well worth it by making these services available for patients. It will reduce an influx of phone calls and free up staff to do other important tasks.
- Cross Training- Training staff effectively in all practice related areas is a key factor to being efficient for most small practices. All staff members should be familiar with and understand administrative features, including being trained on the EMR system. This allows more flexibility if one employee is sick or suddenly quits without notice. It also allows for the team to better understand workflow within the practice.
- Patient Reminders- Utilizing an EHR system or other technology to supplement or automate patient reminder tools can help reduce cancellations and simplify workflow. Many systems are now able to send notifications via text, email, and phone. As reimbursement continues to decrease and the cost of running a medical practice escalate, implementing strategies to help reduce cancellations can prove to be a smart return on investment.
- Strategic Staffing- Finding just the right number of staff can almost be as challenging as finding the right staff. Front office staff members are critical because they are responsible for creating the first and last impression for a practice. If they have too many administrative duties, it can often slow things down and make patients feel they aren’t the top priority. The use of part-time staff can be efficient by utilizing additional help during peak hours such as in the morning or after lunch. This will help a practice start on time and keep to schedule.
- Fax Servers- The use of a fax server can save an enormous amount of time scanning and faxing documents. A fax server allows computer users to send and receive fax messages. Fax messages can be stored, and scanned documents can be sent as fax messages, allowing a computer and scanner to replace a dedicated fax machine. Staff can also attach documents and include them in a patient’s EMR file.
- Motivate Employees- Initiatives are never successful without the buy-in from employees. Finding the right types of incentives may seem challenging on a slim budget. However, rewards and recognition do not have to cost a lot of money. Whether it’s a handwritten note, movie tickets, a gift card for lunch, or an afternoon off, little gestures can go a long way. Treating employees with value and respect can increase motivation.