The time clock is ticking the moment patients enter your waiting room. How soon do you greet them? How long will they wait until they are called to the back? Respect for a patient’s time is perhaps among the most highly valued attributes of the patient experience. It’s also very frequently overlooked. So why is time management in a medical office so hard to control, and what can be done about it? Let us count the ways.
Techniques to Improve Practice Time Management
- Take hold of your appointment schedule. Meet with the clinical assistant and receptionist to evaluate each appointment and assign an estimated timeframe. Build in extra time for each so there’s a cushion for contingencies. Have a plan in place for delays. Medical emergencies happen. As do delays. Be proactive and notify waiting patients as soon as possible with an approximate length of the delay. If it is more than 30 minutes, patients may appreciate an opportunity to reschedule. Then get on the phone with patients scheduled later in the day to give them an option to reschedule for another day. Make the task go faster by enlisting the help of a few staff members.
- Plan for the day ahead. At the end of each day assign the clinical assistant to review all patient charts scheduled for the next day. Review each chart for accuracy. It is imperative that all test results are included on the chart. List separately those patients receiving a procedure during their visit. Then, ensure that all necessary instruments are sterilized and ready to go in the morning. Preplanning and anticipation helps prevent delays and saves precious time.
- Prepare patient records. Take a cue from organization consultant, Marie Kondo, whose claim to fame is helping people gain control of their lives through organization. Review patient history, reason for visit, etc., then prepare documents and records in a consistent, organized format, for the clinicians. For those practices still utilizing physical charts, a multi-divisional chart with metal fasteners makes information easier to find.
- Write a monthly production report. Less is more - try to limit this to one page, if possible. This is a report for the provider(s) -- a hit list that includes monthly production and stats such as total number of patients, procedures, procedures performed by type, and end-of-month payables, receivables, and insurance claims filed. The physician should be able to review the report in 10 minutes or less. Save more time for the provider by creating a digital or audio version of the report to review off clinic hours.
- Publish information for patient education. One of the best ways to save time is to educate your patients about policies, and documents ahead of their visit. That way, they know what insurance you accept, what there estimated out-of-pocket responsibility will be, what payment methods are accepted, etc. You can take care of this in your patient portal where documents can be completed or uploaded in advance of an appointment. Or upload forms to your website and instruct patients to complete documents in advance and bring with them to their appointment. These documents save both you and your patients time and can increase patient satisfaction.
Training For Time Management
Yes, there’s a class for that! Master the art of effective time management in module one of Certified Medical Office Manager. Learn what defines time management; how to delegate, organize, and prioritize your own time, and tips and tricks to skillfully manage your provider, staff, and office time.