Director of Marketing, SortlyShahzad Karachiwala
What healthcare provider doesn’t want to see his or her business run more efficiently? After all, a well-run practice usually means increased revenue and happier, healthier patients. In the past, providers relied on smart hiring and organized employees to ensure their practices operated smoothly.
But today, it takes a thoughtful blend of solution-based technology and old-school morale boosters to really make your medical office more productive without sacrificing quality of care and patient experience.
From better break rooms to online appointment scheduling, read on to discover ten proven ways to boost your medical practice’s efficiency.
There’s perhaps no better way to lessen the workload of your administrative staff than with on-demand, 24/7 online scheduling functionality. Here’s how a simple “Book an Appointment” button can streamline operations for your front desk:
As an added bonus, you’ll likely find you attract new, young patients with this feature. Why? Well, many millennials don’t like talking on the phone. They’ll feel confident booking their appointments without having to say a word.
Another benefit: You’ll score new patients around the clock and keep returning patients coming back for more. In an era of Postmates-style instant gratification, many patients don’t want to wait for what they want or need. If they have to hold off until morning to book a slot, they might choose another provider who offers instant appointments.
Online scheduling is not something to put on your wish list for next year. Implement it ASAP.
Online scheduling can be set up on websites like Yelp and Zocdoc. But for extra points, enable online booking on your own website, too. Healthcare marketing companies like PatientPop specialize in helping practices get online and get modern. Or you can chat with your web developer about how to integrate online booking on your website independently or with certain plugins.
If you’re going to offer online scheduling, then you’re already committing to drastically reducing time wasted on the phone by your front desk staff. Why not go the extra mile and really commit to boosting productivity by adding automated appointment reminders?
While every integration is different, here’s how these automated reminders generally work:
First of all, it gets your employees off the phone and back on task. That alone makes switching to automated appointment reminders a no-brainer. Those days of expensive, inefficient phone tag are over. Many patients are at work or busy with their children when your front desk calls to confirm an appointment. Your admin might have to call two or three times before she reaches anyone. That’s just a waste of time.
And secondly, remember, this isn’t just helpful to your practice. Your patients will be glad you made the switch, too. Most Americans prefer texting to voice calls anyway! They can respond at their leisure and refer back to the information at a later time if they forget any appointment details.
Lastly, because your appointment confirmations will be easier to access, you’ll likely experience a drop in no-shows that waste your practice’s time and money.
How much paperwork does a new patient complete prior to his first visit with you? One sheet? Two sheets? Ten sheets? If you’re literally giving out homework to your newest patients, then why not let them do that work at home?
When The Atlantic took on this topic in its magazine, author James Fallows didn’t mince words with his headline: But Seriously Now, Why Do Doctors Still Make You Fill Out Forms on Clipboards? He’s right. American EHR integration might be failing to help you access your patient’s medical history, but that doesn’t mean your patients need to write their whole life story down while sitting in your waiting room.
Put those forms online or email them out to new patients in advance. Even if only half your patients take the time to complete these ahead of time, you’ll still shave minutes off every one of those visits. Your time is valuable, and so is your patients’.
With so many tech tips, maybe this one feels like it’s coming out of left field. But it’s still steeped in science: workplace burnout is real, and it’s bad for both your employees health and your practice’s profit margins.
According to Psychology Today, “Working for long stretches without breaks leads to stress and exhaustion. Taking breaks refreshes the mind, replenishes your mental resources, and helps you become more creative.” The article continues: “Other research suggests also that taking regular breaks raises workers’ level of engagement which, in turn, is highly correlated with productivity.”
Investing in a relaxing, inviting break room will give your employees a place to unwind and reenergize so they can keep their productivity sky-high all day long. And you don’t have to spend a fortune. For now, just consider taking on one or two of these tips:
You can also ask your own team members what features they’d like to see in the break room.
Cross-training is tough because it requires initial investment and, well, there’s a learning curve. But if your best front desk administrator calls out sick—or quits!—you’re going to want a well-trained employee to be able to fill his shoes. And that’s going to require a little work.
One Forbes article calls cross-training “your best defense against indispensable employees.” Cross-training, the article asserts, creates team players who are durable, agile, flexible and efficient.
The article also lays out a four-point cross-training process:
While the process may seem daunting, inefficient and expensive at first, it’s likely well worth it. Try to get as much training in as possible during slow times, like midsummer or between Christmas and New Year’s.
In a busy practice, it’s just not practical for busy providers to do everything all by themselves. Sometimes, the key to getting everyone—including yourself!—home on time is smart delegation.
Many providers shy away from delegation because they don’t want to give up control of their practice and they don’t want someone else to drop the ball. That’s completely understandable. But if you believe in your hiring process, you can learn to trust your team while optimizing practice operations.
Entrepreneur offers five tips to becoming a top-notch delegator. They are:
You can always start small: Ask your RNs to call patients when normal test results come back from the lab. As your employees prove they can handle more and more, keep on delegating.
Secure online communication, like online scheduling and automated appointment reminders, can shave hours off your support staff’s workdays—and yours, too. Think of all the reasons a patient might currently call your office besides to request an appointment: medical question, prescription refill request, medical records request, referral question… That’s a lot of lengthy phone calls bogging your front desk down.
Imagine if those questions were asked online instead, and you could simply sit down once or twice a day and answer all of them at once, with no wasted time or interruptions. With a secure communication system, you can efficiently exchange messages with your patients on your own time. And unlike regular email, these secure platforms offer the HIPAA compliance you need.
Messaging systems don’t just exist for patient-doctor communication, either. There is HIPAA-compliant software that allows doctors, RNs, MAs and front desk staff to chat seamlessly all day. Think Slack, but 100% secure.
Ask your IT team for a referral or click here to research some HIPAA compliant messaging systems.
Still sending out test results via snail mail? Even if you or your team calls patients with normal test results, providing them with hard copies takes time and money. Save resources by again looking into a secure messaging system that allows you to send not just messages but also enables you to digitally share charts, referrals and test results, too.
Healthcare technology is a profitable, growing industry that gets smarter every day, so there are a lot of options out there. Most good businesses will be happy to provide you will all the information you need to really consider their product, so go ahead and reach out to a few vendors.
If you’re like most medical practices, your office is knee-deep in medical equipment. From syringes and saline solution to tongue depressors and tuning forks, practices like yours are spending a lot of money on supplies—and a lot of time accounting for those items, too.
If your employees are doing inventory by hand on a homemade spreadsheet, then they are almost certainly frustrated with how they keep track of all these items. Some inventory is stashed in various exam rooms; other supplies are in a storage closet. And some equipment might be on autoship, whereas other items might require a special order placed weeks in advance.
If you’re serious about improving productivity and reducing unnecessary spending at your practice, then seriously consider switching to seamless, stress-free mobile inventory management. Thanks to advances in modern technology, good inventory apps (like Sortly ) are inexpensive, easy to use, accessible from any device and constantly syncing. Plus, standout inventory apps will even alert you when stock is low, products are expiring or supplies need to be replaced.
With all these high-tech healthcare hacks, you might be surprised that our tenth and final suggestion is so humble. But here’s the thing: the best way to find out about the hurdles your employees face is to ask them.
Here are some ways to get to the bottom of what’s bottlenecking your team:
For extra credit, check out this Harvard Business Review article about empowering your employees to speak freely and share valuable information with you.
Remember that productivity, like most things, isn’t linear. There will be little dips and surges as you and your team work through new processes and optimize daily operations.
Sortly is a super-simple inventory system and asset tracking system that lets you visually manage all of your company’s stuff. Our intuitive (and less maddening) app enables your team to track just about everything from anywhere and gives your business instant access to inventory details like item location, stock level, price and condition and any other details.
Sortly is intuitive; we built it to be up-and-running in minutes–so you can spend less time inventorying and more time businessing.
Check out this short video of how Sortly works.