Improving medical office efficiency has always been top-of-mind for medical professionals. As each year seems to bring about more healthcare legislation to comply with, more reimbursement contracts to stay on top of, or even outright emergencies to respond to (like the recent nationwide pandemic), medical professionals are often spread thin – and so too are practice resources.
With so much to manage, improving medical office efficiency is crucial. By revisiting the utilization of time and money, your organization can not only improve revenue and patient outcomes, but it can also reduce employee burnout, increase return on investment, and experience a host of other benefits.
Our expert healthcare and IT consultants have spent decades assisting medical practices on their journey to increased efficiency. Along the way, our experts have identified best practices to achieve better efficiency – read on to learn what they identified:
1. Improve Operational Efficiency and Patient Flow
When looking to improve the efficiency of your medical practice, the first thing to do is take stock of your operational, workflow, and patient flow processes.
Start with your front office: take a look at the way you greet, process, and move patients through your system. Are there opportunities to expedite that would save time, money, and patient and staff frustration? One solution to consider is patient visit dashboards – also known as healthcare quality dashboards, or dashboards in healthcare. Dashboards are automated software tools that assemble and display your organization’s performance data in one centralized place – but more on these later.
In addition to the front office, it’s worth taking a look at the tail-end of the patient visit process as well. At the conclusion of patient visits, are your billing and coding processes as streamlined as they could be? You may want to consider saving both time and money by investing in automated billing and coding software that optimizes these often-complex processes for you.
In general, take time to assess your workflow and operations processes throughout all aspects of your organization. Data entry, HR, telehealth, billing and coding, and more are all areas to consider reworking (or at least tweaking these processes) for maximum efficiency.
2. Optimize Data Entry During Patient Visits
For busy clinicians and medical practice staff, it can sometimes feel as if there are not enough hours in the day. Precious time spent with patients during one-on-one visits often seems insufficient to cover all the bases. Add to that the complex (but necessary) completion of thorough documentation for each of these patient visits, and physicians and staff can begin to feel pushed to their limit – threatening not only the quality of the physician-patient relationship but also increasing the risks of burnout and fatigue.
For these reasons, one of the most important areas to focus on that will improve medical practice efficiency is the patient visit documentation process. With so many physicians in agreement that documentation is one of the most burdensome and most time-consuming processes they face, freeing up these hours is a no-brainer for when looking to get more from their resources.
In response, many new and innovative software solutions have sprung up in the world of healthcare – software solutions that leverage a blend of remote scribes and artificial intelligence to offload some of the documentation burdens from busy physicians, while still preserving (and in many cases improving) the quality of visit documentation.
In addition, taking a look at your Electronic Health Record (EHR) system (and the ways clinicians and staff interface with it) may offer insights in regard to how you can streamline the patient visit process. Your EHR is one of the most central pieces of your organizations’ success – ensuring that it works for you and not against you can help improve medical practice efficiency for both patient visits and much more.
3. Ensure Maximum Productivity with Scheduling Updates
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many healthcare organizations continue to struggle to increase visit volume and get patients back in the door. Meanwhile, other practices may be struggling with an inadequate or ineffective scheduling setup that hinders staff from booking according to demand because of scheduling issues.
Ensuring that your organization gets the most out of its scheduling capabilities is one of the most effective steps you can take to improve medical practice efficiency. Time is money after all, and perhaps nowhere is this old saying truer than in healthcare.
But how can a practice optimize scheduling to reach its potential? One answer is to leverage software that assists with scheduling. Software solutions are designed to automate the reporting process that eliminates the need for staff to expend precious time and energy making, canceling, and rescheduling appointments.
In addition, software solutions exist to help identify time periods during which patient visit volume is either high or low. This allows staff and leadership to plan accordingly for maximum volume or those slow times in the clinic.
4. Leverage Healthcare Quality Dashboards
How is it that practices can go about implementing all of the above changes? And not only to implement them, but also to track and view results that confirm whether or not the chosen strategy is effective. Healthcare quality dashboards (also called dashboards in healthcare) are how.
Quality dashboards software tools equip healthcare organizations to track their chosen healthcare KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). These KPIs vary widely and can be almost anything. To borrow from a few of the aforementioned examples, organizations could opt to track trends in patient visit times, average time spent in the waiting room, a host of metrics around the documentation process, and much more.
With these data in hand, organizations can begin to understand how and why they are performing at a given level in certain areas, which is a crucial first step toward improving medical office efficiency. When leadership has an easy-to-use and automatically-refreshed window into the health of their organization, this allows them agility with business strategy to maximize success.
Dashboards come in a variety of different setups, so it’s important to choose the best one for each healthcare organization. In addition to confirming that your chosen customized dashboard is suited for your needs, it’s also beneficial to look to dashboard examples that demonstrate how to improve efficiency – from financials, to patient visits, to services rendered and much more.
5. Track Progress by Benchmarking
With healthcare KPIs (sometimes referred to as healthcare performance metrics, or healthcare metrics to improve performance) in hand – as viewed through a powerful healthcare dashboards solution – organization leadership is prepared to take one of the most consequential and effective steps toward improving medical office efficiency: benchmarking.
What is benchmarking? Essentially, benchmarking in healthcare is to compare one business, area, department, time period, or other units against another in order to understand why one is outperforming the other – and then use those findings to inform the business strategy that will address the problem.
While benchmarking for medical practices provides a host of benefits, the main takeaway is this: by engaging in benchmarking, staff and leadership can identify what is working and what isn’t. Then, these insights become the basis for a roadmap of next steps. This roadmap serves as a strategy to improve medical office efficiency, and this process is expedited through the use of healthcare quality dashboards.
Medical Advantage Can Help
Improving medical office efficiency is far from being a simple process as it involves a holistic set of efforts. This consists of addressing operational and workflow aspects, streamlining documentation processes, optimizing scheduling, and finally, using healthcare dashboards to expedite all of the above. For busy healthcare professionals, this can be quite an undertaking – this is where Medical Advantage can help.
Medical Advantage’s consultants have rich experience in both the healthcare and IT industries and work as an extension of your staff to help identify and implement strategies that will improve the efficiency of your medical office. Interested in learning more? Fill out the form below to get in touch with one of our consultants today.