Office efficiencies require a combination of two things:
- The appropriate systems are in place in the office.
- The appropriate people can implement those systems.
Thus, the employees in the office who help with patient management
become critical to fulfilling the practice's mission. In our office, the staff is integral to enabling me to see patients as efficiently as possible, while providing the highest quality care.
This is a continual work in progress
that we never take for granted and never consider completed. We are constantly evolving the roles of everyone in the office to keep up with new technologies.
Here, I’ll discuss three key components to getting everyone in your office involved in creating efficiencies.
Plan your day before you start seeing patients
This is the one thing that truly improved the workflow for how smoothly my daily schedule went.
I used to have a technician go through a series of standard tests as part of a pre-test process for patients. However, in doing so, I would then have to order additional tests after I saw the patient for the exam, requiring the technician to then re-engage with the patient afterward.
This made it difficult for technicians to be easily accessible when I needed them for special testing. Additionally, when I got a technician, they often felt rushed and extremely stressed.
“The inefficiency of this process struck me when I spoke to a good friend (who was a dentist) who told me that he goes over his schedule with his assistant every morning. It then hit me like a ton of bricks: why wouldn’t I do the same thing?”
This would allow me to share the clinical logic
, as well as the game plan for the day, with the technician I would be working with.
We usually assign a technician each day to work with a specific doctor. So, every morning before I start seeing patients I meet with the technician and go over: the patients, any additional tests that will need to be performed, and most importantly, why I am ordering and performing the test. We’ve found this to be a great educational opportunity for the technicians
and a more efficient way to perform tests.
As an example of this built-in efficiency, a macular degeneration patient would have their macula OCT scan performed during the pre-test process. That way, when I am reviewing the patient's information, I already know what their macular scans look like before even entering the exam room.
Have regular office meetings
This is an opportunity to bring everyone up to speed on changes to processes in the office. Additionally, this is an opportunity to re-establish the importance of current processes.
“This is where they have the chance to put anything on the board where they feel there is an opportunity for improvement.”
One of the things that we started doing a while ago was hooking up one of our laptops to a projector that everyone could easily see in the office during meetings. We would then go over things that were being done inconsistently in our software to see if we could optimize the process.
Each employee would at some point control the mouse and go through different processes on the computer. That way we could all visualize what we were talking about, instead of just discussing it.
Personally, this happened to me multiple times when I saw employees perform tasks step by step in our electronic health records.
Have employees create lists of things they want to know more about
“As we go through our day, we make many assumptions about the knowledge base of the people around us.”
We assume that because our technicians can perform an accurate visual field or OCT scan
, they understand the principles behind the instrumentation. We assume that the people discussing orthokeratology
with our patients understand its principles. We assume that those posting charges to the insurance companies
understand the full path of submission. Often, the knowledge base on these tasks is not as complete as we think.
We ask our employees to keep lists of things they wish they knew more about and put them on the office meeting board. Sometimes we have full meetings devoted to additional explanations around these topics.
Efficiency requires involving your staff
Involving everyone in your practice will inherently create increased levels of efficiency. Employees can communicate more effectively about almost everything in the office.
It is critical not to view this as a one-time activity, but a constantly evolving process
in the office. In doing so, you will continue to engage everyone in the office at the highest level, and your office efficiencies will continue to improve.