January 8, 2018

5 key methods to empower staff in your primary care practice

Across all the overheads of a primary care practice, members of staff are the most critical to success. They make…

Across all the overheads of a primary care practice, members of staff are the most critical to success. They make up the majority of the cost structure and are ultimately the key factor in influencing patient experience. For these reasons, it is of paramount importance to utilize staff effectively — from physicians, at the top of the pay scale, to support staff.

There are several behaviors that you can adopt immediately that will aid you in getting more from the staff in your practice. Why not start 2018 with the following 5 methods?

1. Maximize Physician Productivity

Physicians should be concerned with patient care and patient care alone. This is more manageable in group practices, which have a more abundant support staff, however, solo physicians can work towards this goal also.

One of the key ways to achieve this is through delegation. Whenever a physician is completing a task that doesn’t relate directly to patient care, encourage them to ask the question ‘could I delegate this to a member of the support staff?’ If the answer is ‘no’, then train staff so that they can take over all administrative tasks. Physicians are highly educated, and paid correspondingly, so consider the staff cost involved with allowing them to complete these tasks.

Also, if a physician is held back, so are patients. The only member of staff that is able to provide diagnoses is the physician, which is why holding them up with tasks that they aren’t absolutely required for is detrimental to patient flow and, as a result, revenues. By freeing physicians up from regular tasks, your practice will be able to room more patients each day and improve patient experience by running to schedule. This, in turn, will improve patient satisfaction scores and attract more patients to your practice.

While it’s important to focus physicians on patient care, alienating them from the workings of the practice entirely can also have a negative impact. It’s important to promote a culture of teamwork in a practice.

2. Encourage an Atmosphere of Team Work

Holding a team meeting once a day is an excellent way to improve staff utilization. These don’t have to be long-winded, just a 1-2 minute standup meeting between the physician, receptionist, and medical assistant can make a huge difference in making a practice run more smoothly.

This is a chance to look at upcoming patients, discuss goals and review the schedule. This can allow hold-ups and work-ins to be anticipated, allowing the practice to run more smoothly. It also allows employees to share ideas, knowledge, and observations. Your practice will ultimately benefit from greater innovation, improve problem-solving and deliver projects more effectively.

It also sends the correct message to staff across the practice — that members of staff have valued opinions that can improve the effectiveness of the practice. By creating synergy amongst staff, it emphasizes that the practice shares a common goal that each member of staff is important in achieving.

3. Harness Technology Wherever Possible

Technology is playing an increasingly large part in every industry; medicine is no different. By introducing new technologies to your practice, and training staff to work them, you will soon see an increase in practice efficiency.

Leading healthcare business consultants continually advocate for the use of basic technological devices in primary care settings. For instance, ensuring that members of staff are proficient in using practice management systems will help them to complete most administrative tasks far more efficiently and effectively. This will also allow your practice to analyze data more effectively.

Other simple technologies include dual monitors, telephone headsets, and scanners at each desk. For a relatively small outlay, staff can soon be working far more efficiently, without any requirement for training.

4. Analyze

If you modernize the technology within your practice then you should work to get the most from it. If you have implemented a timesheet management software, for instance, then use the data. Define exactly what each member of staff is doing on a daily basis and how much value can be derived from it. If the value of the task doesn’t match the expense of the member of staff, then change your processes.

If you are able to understand the quality of work that your members of staff are undertaking, you will understand its impact on delivering projects and services. Analyzing data across departments, as well as staff roles and skill-sets, may emphasize issues in the structure and hierarchy of your practice and identify areas that can be improved on.

Analyzing staff utilization may seem arduous, but once the requisite systems are in place, it will allow for a smoother running practice in the long-run.

5. Automate Point-of-Care Workflows to EHRs

One of the greatest inefficiencies in primary care is point-of-care workflows. Practices generally rely on manual data entry when conducting point-of-care testing (POCT) which leads to a number of different problems. This process is time-consuming, can hold up appointments and can lead to errors in record keeping — all of which are detrimental to patient experience and revenues.

By automating POCT, results appear in the EHR immediately after running a test, which cuts out any need for manual data entry and the problems this poses. This allows staff to spend their time on more value-adding tasks and helps physicians to provide more effective appointments.

Relaymed is built specifically for running POCT in primary care, without relying on manual data entry or laboratory information systems, which are not suitable due to their high cost and complexity.

Interested in benefiting from Relaymed but want to find out more? Read our ebook How to Unlock Financial Benefits with POC Automation to discover how much your practice could gain from using Relaymed.

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Further Reading

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