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Stephen O'Connor

By: Stephen O'Connor on August 4th, 2016

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How to Manage More Patients with Fewer Resources

Managing more patientsEven small changes in practice workflow bring great benefits for practice support teams. Managing more patients with fewer resources is possible when you exploit each resource to full capacity.

Automate administrative processes for improved patient engagement.

Stop no-shows, create more time for front-facing staff and more revenue in the process.

Calculating the exact cost-per-patient for those who fail to show up for their appointments is complicated, but everyone agrees that last minute cancelations have negative financial consequences for physicians. There will always be some avoidable situations – flat tires, car wrecks, last minute work schedules – however, there are some things you can do to reduce surprises.

  • Send text, email and interactive voice messages twenty-four to forty-eight hours before the appointment time.

  • Utilize appointment confirmation settings in your practice EHR.

  • Establish a no-show policy that includes a flat, billable charge to patient who fail to provide advanced notice.

  • Maintain a list of patients willing to come in on short notice.

  • Inform all new patients of your no-show policy. Many patients know in advance that they won't keep a visit. When faced with a potential charge even if they don't keep their appointment, patient-consumers will make the effort to cancel early.

Map internal workflow to improve efficiency.

Workflow mapping provides ample opportunities to streamline operations, thereby saving time and money for the administrative staff. When a practice works with a limited support team, optimizing performance is critical.

When reviewing practice processes look for ways to shave minutes from the workload. For example, providing detailed statements to patients rather than a single line item that shows the balance will eliminate calls to clarify what contributed to the balance.

Here are possible solutions mapping may suggest.

  1. Outsourcing billing and collections will ensure patients have access to a live person to answer any questions or arrange payment plans. Outsourcing can also save physicians' practices between 30% and 40% on employee costs when you consider training expense, benefits packages, replacement staff wages for sick leave coverage and other incidentals associated with permanent employees. Do more, spend less, work more efficiently.

  2. Improve lab workflow. Leverage interfaces that enable digital lab result sharing. Utilize technology to deliver routine lab results via password-protected, prerecorded messaging systems. Post imaging and lab results in the patient portal to allow patients to access interpretations. And, give patients the option of asking questions or updating personal information online to reduce telephone calls.

  3. Reposition shared kiosk. Sometimes increasing productivity is as simple as moving the shared fax machine or computer workstation to reduce a few steps for staff members as they update supply and durable medical equipment inventory.

Exploit technology to improve human capital performance

Whether it is automating communication or improving billing and coding processes, technology plays a vital role in helping your human capital reach peak performance. The result is that practices can manage more patients with fewer resources. Standardizing internal workflow processes and automating every step possible without compromising quality of care or alienating the patient will add value to the practice.

The patient-flow clock begins ticking the moment a potential patient reaches out to the physician's team to request an appointment. Examining every touch point along the patient journey may reveal small (or sometimes big) changes that will shave a few minutes off the time required to meet the needs of patients and staff members.

Conclusion:

Technology empowers medical providers to improve the patient experience and enhance relationships. It is possible to build a lean, patient-focused environment that supports growth and positive patient outcomes. The hardest part is getting started. Commit today to examine the revenue stream from the patient journey. Your staff, your patients and your physicians will be glad you did.

The following key steps can help every practice manage more patients with fewer resources.

  • Automate routine communication, appointment reminders and other administrative tasks.
  • Give patients the resources they need to proactively manage their health like patient portals, self-serve educational materials and itemized statements.
  • Complete a comprehensive review of the patient-flow via process mapping; then take corrective action to streamline services.
  • Consider outsourcing some tasks to relieve time constraints and improve workflow patterns.

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About Stephen O'Connor

As a Director of Digital Marketing at Advanced Data Systems Corporation, Stephen spends his day's planning, writing, & designing resources for the modern healthcare professional. He has a strong affinity for snow crab legs, the ocean, and Rutgers Football.