Secrets of Success: Start the New Year off on the ‘right foot’…with an efficiency ‘to-do’ list

Happy New Year to One and All!

One of your 2019 practice objectives should be “work to improve”…and as such staff, team leaders and doctors should sit down together and have this discussion moving forward: “How can we reduce unnecessary steps?” “Where are our bottlenecks and what can we do to unclog them to allow better flow?” “What steps can we take to better prepare for the days/weeks ahead of us?” “What are doctors doing that can appropriately be delegated to staff to maximize time and energy?”

While answers to these questions cannot be fully addressed in this short article; I will suggest using this start up list of recommended courses of action that are efficiency-focused. Things don’t happen on their own so if you don’t take the necessary steps to change, you are not really serious about improving them. Now’s as good a time as any to get started!

  • Do what you need to develop and retain good staff. Remember, good staff are hard to find – even harder to replace! Outline a serious orientation and (re-)training program in an effort to boost and inspire a more productive staff– no one can be expected to do something (right) if they are not first taught how;
  • Create patient treatment protocols and integrate staff duties into them to increase patient flow, and encourage more consistency and an anticipatory staff;
  • Develop job descriptions to assign individual responsibility, less ‘handoffs’, accountability and eliminate redundancy of tasks;
  • Time management is a fundamental element of efficiency. Take an overwhelming task and break it down into pieces. Decide what is the most effective/productive way to get from start to finish by eliminating useless, time-burdened steps;
  • If a procedure is broke, fix it;
  • Have 5 minute huddles (doctor and staff) at the beginning of each day to review and anticipate activities. It puts everyone on the same page, reveals hidden expectations and plans for necessary modifications;
  • Require staff to review patient records a day ahead of schedule to prepare for patient and doctor needs as well as special room set-ups;
  • Respect the schedule and teach your patients to do the same by stressing the importance of return appointments to them in the treatment room. Many times, the reason they break appointments is because they feel they are not necessary;
  • Identify and correct mistakes as they happen or you’ll spend twice the time undoing and re-doing them;
  • Report to your office on time, so patients can be set up and the day started on time. (That means, doctors: at least 10-15 minutes and staff: 30 minutes before the first scheduled patient.) A late start is one of the biggest contributors to running behind;
  • Use downtime wisely to accomplish tasks that should not be done while clinic is in session.
  • Learn to manage phone calls effectively and more expeditiously, without skimping on customer service. Wasted time on the phone takes you away from other necessary tasks. Role play various scenarios at your staff meeting – include proper, acceptable, consistent scripting to respond to the more frequent patient questions;
  • Schedule patients properly – ideally, according to how much time is expected for their condition;
  • Monitor money handlings at the front desk and review effectiveness of collections & reconciliations at the end of each day. Where can improvements be made?

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