As a doctor and practice owner, your income has a direct correlation to the number of consultations you can make within a certain time period. But, it is well known that on a daily basis there are barriers which prevent you from seeing as many patients as you can- and time is one such barrier. Therefore, we’ve rounded up 3 tips on how you can improve productivity and put more time back in your day.
Delegate tasks to the right person
Like any small business, a practice consists of several small moving parts. In a recent interview with Dr. Daniel Israel, a tech-savvy General Practitioner (GP) based in Sandton, he mentioned that delegating tasks has helped him save time. For example, hiring an accountant and having someone to manage the social media for his practice provided him with more time to focus on patients.
Here are a few responsibilities you might consider delegating:
Finances can be grouped into all your tax, income and expense admin. As a medical professional, this area of your business is something that was probably never highlighted in your career spec. That is why finding a qualified accountant to manage your books, and to keep you updated on the latest financial policies and procedures, will fill the gap and allow you to focus on what really matters– your patients.
In South Africa, how you market your medical practice needs to adhere to Health Professionals Council of South Africa (HPCSA). Therefore, it is wise to find someone who knows the rules and regulations of marketing, to ensure your practice’s advertising stays within the law. The Health Professionals Council of South Africa’s advertising guidelines are a good reference point for all marketing initiatives.
- Revenue cycle management
Revenue cycle management (RCM) is all about how you manage your practices claims processing, payment and revenue generation. It includes validating patient information, collecting patient-liable amounts, coding claims correctly, tracking claims, collecting payments and following up on rejected claims.
These tasks can be quite time consuming and are worth delegating to a skilled practice manager, or even completely outsourcing this function. Knowing that these processes are managed correctly will ensure your cash flow is healthy, and free you up to focus on the patient care side of your business.
Many doctors have close and longstanding relationships with certain patients, and would therefore want to consult these patients each time they come into the practice. However, when you have more patients in your waiting room than you do time, seeking a locum will help you to continue to see all patients in your waiting room without compromising on care.
Stop multitasking and start batching tasks
A report on Quartz found that multi-tasking hampers efficiency, by leading to less and not more productivity. According to a study by the University of California Irvine, when people stop working on tasks it takes about 23 minutes 15 seconds on average to get back into the previous task. Which may then result in stress and overwhelm.
Allocating a time or a day to work on certain responsibilities and batching tasks up, can free up some time and allow you truly focus on the task at hand. As a practice owner and doctor, it is inevitable that there will be interruptions and last minute tasks, but it is better to ‘plan and fail than to fail to plan’.
Implement better patient communication
Many small businesses overlook the importance of strategically implementing effective communication processes. The processes and tools you choose to communicate to patients with, can save you and your staff valuable time and resources; here are a few examples:
- Automated reminders:
By implementing automated patient reminders, you ensure that patients remember appointments. Thus reducing the chances of a no-show. In addition to that, patient reminders avoid the admin of calling and following up with patients manually; this allows staff to re-coup that time elsewhere.
- Online check- in’s:
Checking patients in online can reduce the admin of check-in paperwork, and create a better patient experience.
These are 2 processes which highlight how 2nd level thinking with regards to patient communication can save time, and improve practice productivity.
Investing in a practice management system or software can free up time, increase profitability and maximise efficiency. For example:
- Automated benefit checks at time of appointment
This will tell you how much the patient can expect to pay at time of appointment; because they are automated, staff no longer have to waste time making lengthy phone calls to medical aids.
- Sending claims electronically in real-time:
Being able to send claims easily and instantly means there is no backlog of claims that need to be processed. This will help reduce admin overload.
- Scheduling repeat visits and appointment reminders:
It can get extremely busy in a practice. Keeping on top of who should be coming in and when can seem daunting. With automated appointment reminders, you can set these as you discuss with the patient, and not have to worry about reminding before the appointment. We’ve written an entire blog post on how you can use technology to save time and maximise practice efficiency. Look out for it in our next post!
Delegating, batching, streamlining and automating tasks can eliminate bottlenecks and free up your time so you can focus on the important stuff- caring for patients, while your small business continues to thrive. This might sound like a lot of effort, but strategically improving productivity is an essential long-term investment into times savings for not only you but your staff as well.