Along with making a wrong diagnosis and huge student debt, the other thing that worries medical practitioners is running a failed practice.
Interestingly, these fears are somehow linked to each other. For instance, if you have a reputation of making wrong diagnoses, many patients will avoid your coming to your practice. Without clients, you won't be making enough money to pay off your student loans.
Of course, offering quality clinical services is the #1 way to keep clients coming, but there is also another important factor: operational efficiency.
In this article, we're telling you how to increase the efficiency of your medical practice.
Hire a Medical Office Manager
Unlike other establishments, medical practices hold a vital role in the community. Without them, diseases would stage attacks at will and render people helpless.
However, your medical practice is still a business. It has to turn out a profit, else shut down.
Yet, some practice owners seem to lack a grasp of this fundamental fact. They establish their offices and make it a one-man show. Maybe they will hire one or two assistants to help with the scheduling and whatnot, but they run pretty much everything else.
If this sounds like your practice, it's probably not operating at optimal efficiency. What you need to do is delegate. Not only delegate, but hire an office manager.
The manager will be responsible for adequately staffing your practice, handling patient complaints and overseeing the finances. Relieved from such tasks (which you did not even train for), you can now focus on doing what you do best; caring for your patients.
Because the position of medical office manager is very crucial to the success of your practice, you must absolutely bring in the right hire.
Look for someone with training in medical office management, experience working in clinical settings and a strong business acumen. Not sure this is a task you can get right? Let a medical staffing agency do it for you.
Leverage Medical Office Technology
No, we don't mean the latest diagnosis and treatment devices and equipment.
Sure you need to invest in those, but our focus is on technologies that will increase the operational efficiency of your practice.
For instance, do you have the best patient scheduling and billing software? How do your store patient records? Is your system hack-proof?
In other words, you should have technological solutions for the following tasks:
- Insurance verification
- Prescription safety
- Security protocols
- Appointment setting
- Patient records management.
Your office manager should be able to evaluate the technological requirements of your practice and lead the procurement, deployment, and management of suitable solutions.
Keep in mind that technology exposes your practice to a range of risks. For example, patient records software will automate record keeping, but the technology can fail or crash. Without a backup, it'll be hardly possible to retrieve the records. Inevitably, service delivery in your practice will be severely affected.
Even if the software won't fail, hackers can infiltrate it, steal the data, and hold your practice at ransom. Heard of WannaCry ransomware?
To avoid such instances, it's important to have a tech guy on your staff. The person who will keep watch and ensure such intrusions don't come to anything.
Develop Workplace Policies That Promote Efficiency
Workplace policies not only define the culture of an organization, but also set the tone for efficiency. It's for this reason that you must craft policies that enhance the efficiency of your staff, and by extension, your practice.
Begin by picturing or visualizing the performance of your ideal practice.
What time would you like to open doors and close for the day? Or are you looking at a 24-hour office?
What level of patient satisfaction do you want to achieve? Would you prefer to have client enquires sorted as soon as possible? What about patient complaints?
Once you have a clear picture of your ideal practice, it's easy to draw policies that help increase organizational efficiency.
For instance, a policy that requires staff members to ensure no email is left unattended at the close of business is an effective way to ensure prompt responses to inquiries. This also ensures today's work doesn't roll over to the next day.
Another way to develop effective policies is to study client habits.
Let's say your established open time is 9 am. However, you routinely notice that a good number of patients visit your practice as early as 7.30 am. This means before you get to the office and begin on a backfoot.
The smart thing to do is revise your opening policy, so that your practice opens sometime before the early bird patients check in.
Clear Front-Desk Bottlenecks
The front desk (reception area) is the face of your office. It's also the one place that can determine whether your medical practice is efficient or not.
There are common front-desk bottlenecks that you must eliminate to achieve greater efficiency.
For example, do your patients fill out forms at the front desk? If they do, you're either living in the 20th century, or you don't care about the efficiency of your office.
In this digital age, you shouldn't be handling patient paperwork at the front office. It will only slow down your practice, and you'll end up with frustrated patients.
To eliminate this bottleneck, there are two options:
- Have patients fax in their details after they make contact with your facility via phone or email
- Have them provide personal and medical information when they call your practice. If you opt to record client conversations so that you can take down the details later, ensure you're in compliance with the relevant laws.
Whichever option you choose, ensure it reduces the front desk's role to just verifying details.
Another front-desk bottleneck to eliminate? A lot of unnecessary inquiries!
Yes, it's a good thing when patients ask your front office staff questions. It humanizes your brand and is good for increasing patient satisfaction.
However, there are inquiries that are unnecessary. Do you really want a client asking whether your practice offers certain clinical services while you can make that information readily available to them?
Use healthcare digital signage, such as menu boards, to provide such information. Other useful pieces of info to display include operating hours, your professional qualifications, and website address.
Have a Tidy Bundle of Cash Ready
Running a medical practice requires money.
To start one, in fact, you need at least $70,000. This is money for basics such as rent, payroll, office and medical supplies.
Once patients start rolling in, it's usually a sigh of relief. It shows money is flowing in, and you're well on your way to profitability.
However, it's not often that this path is straightforward. You will run into challenges. Depending on your location and marketing efforts, it could be some time before you turn out a profit. All the while, you'll be burning through cash. It's not uncommon for businesses to burn through all the capital at their disposal before they break even.
That's why it's mandatory to have a bundle of cash at hand. Always overestimate your capital needs, so that if it takes a while before you start seeing some profit, you'll have more money to keep the practice afloat.
That said, stick to your budget, and exercise frugality in the early days.
As tempting as it might be to tastefully furnish your medical office, it's not a financially savvy move. Invest in the basics first. This will ensure you don't blow money on unnecessary items.
Stay on Top of Legal Changes
The healthcare industry is heavily regulated.
As such, there are often legal changes (both at federal and state levels) affecting your practice. For instance, you have to be aware of the recent changes to the HIPPA act of 1996, identify how they affect you handle patient information, and take measures to stay compliant.
If you're not aware of legal changes in your field, you'll keep doing things the same way, which will land you in trouble. Patients can sue you and your practice if you mishandle their health information. Regulatory agencies might slap you with hefty fines, and you can even lose your medical license.
Such occurrences disrupt your practice's operational efficiency. Keep an eye on legal changes.
Increased Efficiency Will Take Your Medical Practice to the Next Level
Starting a medical practice might seem overwhelming to new practitioners, but it's keeping it running efficiently that's the real challenge.
The good bit is we have given you most of the information you need to eliminate bottlenecks and keep your practice running smoothly. Implement them.
On the hunt for more workplace tips? Explore our blog!