February 01, 2019
Sending intake forms prior to appointments can help you stay on schedule.
Improving medical office efficiency requires evaluation and planning. If you’re constantly running behind schedule and chaos is standard operating procedure, these 5 steps can help you get and keep your practice running smoothly.
1. Track and Observe
First things first: spend a few weeks tracking the flow of patients through your practice. You’ll want to know how many patients you see each day, how much time you spend with each patient, how many patients are there for the first time, and which days are most popular for first-time visits. This information can help you identify when your patient load is at or over capacity and allot an appropriate amount of time for each visit.
2. Offer Online Scheduling
The majority of medical practices that offer online scheduling see a reduction in staff labor, patient waiting time, and no-shows according to a study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research. Your patients will appreciate the convenience of booking appointments online. Meanwhile, your staff will appreciate spending less time on administrative tasks.
3. Use Technology
Automate time-consuming tasks such as patient reminders, prescription refills, and bill paying. Implement a chat system so that everyone on your team can communicate quickly. Keep an eye out for emerging technologies that help clinicians predict no-shows and schedule smarter. Lastly, be sure to train every staff member on all new technologies to ensure things run smoothly.
4. Hold Staff Meetings
Meet with your staff every morning to discuss the needs of patients coming in that day and create a plan to manage time and resources. In subsequent meetings, highlight any patient issues that took place and offer ways to prevent those issues from happening again. These meetings don’t need to last long – even just a quick huddle will do – but they can go a long way toward avoiding confusion and time wasted.
5. Send Intake Forms Prior to Appointments
Waiting until patients arrive to have them fill out intake forms can result in backups, especially when patients don’t arrive early. Send intake forms in advance or make them available on your website. That way your staff can verify the patient’s insurance coverage and process forms before they even walk through the door.
Practice efficiency and patient retention go hand in hand. Patients trust providers who have it all together. Follow the steps listed above and you’ll maintain a more efficient practice.
Zhao P, Yoo I, Lavoie J, Lavoie BJ, Simoes E. Web-based medical appointment systems: a systematic review. J Med Internet Res. 2017;19(4):e134.