How high are you setting the bar for patient care in your medical practice? Their health is in your hands, and they expect quality personalized care. Quality assurance is more important than ever. This article offers medical office managers insights for measuring quality assurance in your office. Read further and learn the “how” using two common tasks that can be easily improved when quality assurance is top-of-mind.
Why is Quality Assurance Necessary in the Medical Practice?
Quality assurance is the maintenance of a desired level of quality in a service or product. The key to superior quality assurance is the attention and care taken at every stage of the delivery and production process. In a medical practice, quality assurance aids in controlling processes and services rendered in order to increase patient satisfaction. It helps build patient trust by helping prevent mistakes.
As a medical office manager, it is your responsibility to ensure the practice is operating efficiently and that patient satisfaction is being met at every level. Thus, quality assurance must not be an afterthought but rather a necessity.
Let’s take a look at two commonplace tasks in a typical physician’s office and how they can be improved with a few easy-to-follow quality assurance practices:
Quality Assurance for Improving Patient Scheduling
Hands down the most common complaint in a medical facility is the length of time the patient is kept waiting to see the doctor. The longer a patient waits, trust begins to dissipate. And, that’s because the patient begins to sense a lack of general concern by the physician. When a patient is dissatisfied, the risk of a professional liability claim increases. When drafting a quality assurance procedure for your scheduling team consider these key points:
- Limit the length of time it takes for patients to get into an appointment. Set the maximum limit. When it falls below the acceptable level, consider it a win.
- Require the scheduling team to present themselves in a polite, professional, and friendly demeanor in person and on the phone.
- Ask patients for their permission before putting them on hold.
- During a phone call, limit the length of time patients are left on hold. If it becomes too long, take their number and call them back.
- To help limit waiting room dissatisfaction, establish a 30-minute maximum wait time.
- Schedule extra time for new patients and special procedures.
- Allot enough time before and after patient visits.
- Avoid overbooking patients.
- For those patients waiting in the office or at home, keep them informed and up-to-date on delays and the reasons for them.
Quality Assurance for Improving Documentation
Documenting appointment information is a top priority - almost as critical as the progress note itself. Instruct the scheduling staff to document all and any patient scheduling transactions. Having well-written documentation can be useful when mediating patient complaints and resolving conflicts if they arise. Use the following guidelines when documenting appointments:
- Record all missed or canceled appointments on the patient’s record. Should the patient ever question a previously missed appointment or canceled appointment, you can refer to your notes.
- Document any and all attempts to reach the patient to reschedule a missed appointment. If the patient’s condition warrants it, you may need to send a certified letter.
- Inform referring providers of new patients that have missed scheduled appointments. Always document this communication in addition to a phone call.
Get Better at Quality Assurance
You can practice good quality assurance in almost area of medical practice management. Enroll in the CMOM certification and learn how to improve quality assurance in areas like Billing and Collections, the Front Desk, Medical Equipment, Emergencies, Confidentiality, and Patient Complaints. These areas are covered in depth in Module One of certification program. Learn more and enroll now.