When you think about how to improve efficiency and productivity in your practice, do you get semi-paralyzed wondering where to begin? This can happen if you view improvement with a great big capital “I” and assume that only huge changes will make a difference. Often, it’s the smallest tweaks and the most minor adjustments that have the biggest impact. Here are five ideas to consider that will help make your office run more smoothly – no complete system overhaul necessary!
- Take a look at how you are scheduling patients. If you’ve been handling appointments the same way for years – for example, following the “one patient per 15 minute” rule – and you’re finding yourself with bottlenecks or gaps in the schedule, it might be time for a minor adjustment. Something as simple as leaving one open slot each morning and afternoon to accommodate urgent appointments or booking five patients per hour instead of four might be enough to smooth out the schedule (not to mention increase revenue). If you have an issue with last-minute cancellations wreaking havoc with your schedule, read this post for thoughts on how to make that problem go away for good.
- Have regular staff meetings. Yes, they take time, but they’re worth it. Getting everyone in the same room, even for an hour once a month, can work wonders when it comes to solving annoying issues that get in the way of productivity or efficiency. For example, a 15-minute discussion among employees who routinely work the front desk might result in a solution to a long-standing problem of patients having to wait on hold for longer than they should. Or, one staff member sharing a tip on how she handles patients who insist on talking and talking … and talking … could be picked up and used by other back-office assistants, making them more efficient and less likely to want to pull their hair out when they’re faced with a talker.
- Stop putting up with anything mechanical or technical in your office that is not working properly. This might mean something as simple as purchasing new staplers to replace old, tired, worn out ones, or investing in a new phone system. Walk around your office today with a notepad and make a list of anything and everything that needs maintenance, repair, or replacement.
- Keep a tight control on inventory so that you’re not either running out of something you need or dealing with an overstock of supplies that take up valuable space. Read this post for ideas and tips on how you can save time (and money) by having a good system in place. (Note: The post is about exam room inventory management, but the concepts easily carry over into keeping tabs on office supplies.)
- If you don’t already have one, invest in a time clock. This will not only ensure that employees are accurate in how they report their arrival and departure times and how long they are out for lunch or personal appointments, but it will also make the job of the office manager or whomever is in charge of payroll easier. Why spend valuable time counting up hours worked for each employee when a small, relatively inexpensive machine will do it for you?