By Dana Deardorff
Office efficiency isn’t defined just by how well you communicate with patients in the exam room. Other factors — such as having a streamlined appointment setting process, defining how tasks should be done, and managing the workload of your office staff — are just as important when determining the efficiency of your office, but not everyone is aware of this fact.
Unfortunately, not taking these factors into consideration could mean your office isn’t as well-organized as you believe. Luckily, there are things you can do to advance office productivity. The following are some suggestions on how you, or your office manager, could improve.
Consider Outsourcing or Automating Certain Tasks
The term “outsourcing” often has a negative connotation, but when done properly, it can really improve office efficiency. In simple terms, outsourcing is delegating a task or multiple tasks, to an outside entity who is better able to complete those tasks. When taking this approach, it can really help your health care practice.
Doctor’s offices can outsource a number of tasks to other third-party companies, including:
- Appointment reminders
- Patient Statement generation
- After-hours on-call services
When outsourcing, you don’t have to delegate the tasks to another company. In fact, you may be able to automate certain tasks. For example, instead of having a staff member conduct live appointment-reminder calls to patients, you could automate this feature. Patients would still receive an appointment reminder via phone call, e-mail or text and your office staff can better focus on other tasks.
Remember, if you assign these tasks to other individuals or even automate them, this frees time for staff to do other, more important tasks that cannot be automated or outsourced.
Consider Creating a Central Base for Office Operations
It isn’t too hard for doctor’s offices to quickly become swept up in the latest and greatest for software programs and technology. It may seem great to purchase a new program for billing and another one for appointment scheduling, but all this programming from different software manufacturers can create one big problem for your office.
Consider creating a central base for all office operations. There are practice management and electronic health record (EHR) software programs that will allow you to handle multiple tasks all within a single program or database.
Some of the tasks that can be handled in a practice management program include:
- Medical billing
- Insurance billing
- Office task assignments
- Patient scheduling
- Appointment reminders
- Intra-office communication
- Managing A/R and Reporting
Conduct an Annual Office Efficiency Assessment
Just because you think your office is running smoothly doesn’t mean it really is. Sometimes, things get overlooked and it creates problems in the future. Other times, office practices become lax, which results in inefficacy. Conducting an annual office efficiency assessment will allow you to determine what, if anything, needs to be changed in order to better streamline the office.
An annual assessment should include the following items:
- Communication processes— looking for bottlenecks in communication, areas where internal or external communication are not flowing as it should
- Front and Back office workflows —make it a point to continuously review minimizing clicks in your software, maximize employee roles and maintaining a contingency plan if key members of your care delivery team are out of the office
- Checking for delays — delays between patient and physician, delays between staff members, or delays with insurance companies and billing
Annual efficiency assessments will allow you to spot any problems that appeared, while making sure everything stays as productive as possible.
Running a successful doctor’s office is more than just providing quality health care to patients. It is about making sure all the behind-the-scenes practices are running smoothly and as resourcefully as possible. Following these tips will allow you to not only assess the adeptness of your doctor’s office, but make any changes that need to be made in order to improve.
About MediPro, Inc.
Dana Deardorff is the Office Administrator for MediPro, Inc. a practice management and electronic health records software company. With over 11 years of experience in the healthcare marketplace, she embraces the model of cost efficiency and ultimate end user success.