Wouldn’t it be nice to have patients receive services while riding on a conveyor belt? It would be like an attraction at EPCOT. The patients could check in, take their seat and then first move through the eyeglass display, next they would go through various screenings, then the all important eye exam, back through the eyeglass display to pick out frames and drop off the prescription, learn when the glasses would be available, and then the conveyor belt would deposit the patient out the door. Not a second wasted!
Well, until Rube Goldberg invents this system of patient management, most offices will have their busy times and their slow times. Still, there are ways to make good use of resources so that patients are served promptly and staff is utilized efficiently. Here are a few:
Have the staff enter information in the EHR
Electronic health records (EHR) were developed to make record keeping easier. Of course, during this type of transition, many doctors handle a lot of data entry themselves. As your staff learns to use EHR, ask them to do more of the data entry. The good thing about EHR is that it allows for easy sharing of medical records between doctors and among staff. It also makes errors from bad handwriting less prevalent (e.g., 3.25 mistaken for 3.75). As much as you like to be sure everything is filled in correctly, it is better for the staff to handle the majority of the EHR. You just do your portion and spend the rest of the visit examining the patient.
Maintain the office hierarchy
If you are the owner, that means you are in charge. If you have a small practice where you have an optician and an office manager, then decisions flow through the owner. If you work in an office that is part of a national chain or it is part of a multi-doctor practice, things are different. Routine work issues go to the office manager. Issues with the office manager go to the practice owner. If you see routine tasks that need to be done, don’t remind staff members to do them. Instead, remind the office manager to remind the staff. Why? The reason is because the optometrist/ophthalmologist handles the medical eye care part of the practice. The office manager handles the business/human resources part of the practice. While it seems like an unnecessary division, this separation helps the practice to run smoothly since everyone knows what the chain of command is. Confusion leads to wasted time and effort.
Stop productivity killers
Excessive small talk between staff and patients. Employees spending time on personal devices and making personal calls on company time. These are productivity killers. However, before you start reprimanding people, look for ways to turn the situation around. When it comes to small talk with patients, remind staff that while it is important to know what a patient likes and dislikes, the chit-chat shouldn’t keep other patients waiting. As for spending time on personal devices, appoint staff members who are big on Facebook and Twitter as the practice’s social media manager. When it comes to personal calls on company time, make it a rule that if a staff member has to make a personal call, it is capped at 5 minutes or less. If they need more time, they can make a call during break or lunchtime.
Protocols help a doctor to treat conditions in an efficient manner. Having protocols in the practice will help the business run smoothly. When the practice runs well, the business is successful and the patients get the care that they need.