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    How to master office efficiency, flow

    Clear mission, vision are foundation of a strongly run practice

     

    Well-trained staff

    Back office staff plays an equally important role in an efficiently run practice. Well-trained staff is the key to maximizing the use of medical assistants (MA) and clinical staff. Vicki Guin, an Allergan practice consultant, recommends that an MA accompany a physician at all times to anticipate physician needs. I have always stressed to my clinical staff that my role is to treat the patient. I rely heavily on my staff for assistance in scribing, photography, set-up of procedures, patient positioning and preparation, and post-procedural counseling to maximize the quality and time of my patient interactions.

    Time is of the essence in relating to a well-run office. Set the example and arrive on time. Nothing sets a worse example for staff than a physician being tardy for the start of a workday.

    Realistically evaluating the time of a patient visit or procedure is critical to running an efficient clinic. If you are chronically running an hour behind schedule, something is awry in terms of office efficiency. This stresses the patient, your staff and, ultimately, you. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

    Respect your patient’s time as much as your own. Work with your staff to develop appropriate time blocks for new and follow-up patient visits as well as for specific procedures. If your practice management system allows it, book procedures into specific rooms so that back-to-back procedures utilizing the same device are avoided and multi-physician practices negotiate room use appropriately.

    An eye on reception

    Finally, take a look at your reception and check-out area. This is often where “bottlenecks” occur in the office. According to Ms. Hoover, compartmentalizing the role of front office staffs avoids delays in patient check-in and movement into exam rooms. Ideally, patients spend little to no time in the reception area but are quickly ushered to rooms for evaluation and treatment.

    Consider using an automated patient scheduling reminder system. Text and email reminders are well-received by patients, reduce no-shows, and allow you to keep a full schedule without unexpected, vacant slots.

    An efficient practice is in all likelihood a good place to work. A well-run office begins with physician leadership and ends with a satisfying patient visit. Take a critical look at staff training, physician timing, patient scheduling and preparation to ensure you get the best out of each clinic day. Your patients and staff will literally thank you for it!

    Palm-Melanie90x90.jpg
    Melanie D. Palm, M.D., M.B.A.
    Melanie D. Palm, M.D., is director of Art of Skin MD in Solana Beach, Calif. Visit her at http://www.artofskinmd.com

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