A provider’s workload is never ending. Time is always ticking, and there never seems to be enough of it in the day. With regular patient visits, mounds of paperwork, administrative meetings, and countless other demands, it’s no wonder that patients are kept waiting. This is why provider time management is an essential skill for the medical office manager. Improving a provider’s time management can have beneficial results including a decrease in stress, an increase in productivity, and much happier patients.
Squeezing in time for everything on the schedule is always a challenge. The reality is that no day is ever the same in the medical field. Daily preparation will help keep you on task. However, there will be days that even the best laid-out plan can go awry. To keep the medical practice on task and running smoothly there are a few time management techniques that all administrators should practice.
- Supervise the appointment schedule – The appointment schedule is the roadmap of any medical practice. In any given day, it tells the provider where to be when, and provides an estimate for how long an appointment will last. Begin by enlisting the help of the clinical assistant, the receptionist, or both. Use their insight and wealth of information as a guide to understanding each patient’s needs. Control the process by evaluating each appointment. Based on the analysis, determine the length of each appointment. Some may need more time than others.
- Plan for delays – Having a contingency plan in place when the provider is detained for a medical emergency helps to streamline the process. Always notify waiting patients immediately and have a time limit. If it is more than a 30-minute wait, give them the option to reschedule. Additionally, call all patients scheduled for the remainder of the day, explain the situation, and offer to reschedule their appointment as well.
- Plan for the next day –Set aside time at the end of each day to review charts for patients scheduled for the following day. Double check the reason for the visit and see if any test results are included. For those patients undergoing procedures, you’ll have ample time to instruct staff to have all necessary instruments sterilized and available.
- Organize patient charts – For maximum efficiency, make sure patient charts are easily accessible to staff personnel. All patient records should be organized, filed, and compiled in one consistent format.
- Create a monthly summary report – This one-page report will help to keep the provider in the know and both of you on the same page. In it include a snapshot of the practice’s vital statistics such as number of patients, number and type of procedures performed, insurance claims, and the bottom line. Keep it simple. A chart format keeps it concise, makes it easy to follow, and helps saves time during its review.
- Record the monthly update – Go a step further and record an audio version of the monthly report. This time-saving technique is perfect for a long commute and a way for the provider to catch up on office news and important statistics.
- Publish well-written information – Taking the time to publish well-written information will save time in the long run. Office brochures are great, but an informative website is invaluable to your patients. Dedicate a staff member to update it regularly. If possible, have new patient documentation available online, so it can be filled in ahead of time. This will help reduce phone calls and helps avoid delays when the patient arrives for check-in.
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Download the recent ebook The Medical Office Manager's Guide to Time Management and get best practices to manage your, your staff’s, and your provider's time better. Start streamlining your office’s processes with a few changes and deliver best-in-class service to your patients.
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