Time management is one of the biggest challenges modern medical practices face, regardless of specialty or location. This issue stems from pressure to see as many patients as possible, which creates a domino effect when an appointment runs over.

Fortunately, there are ways to see more patients and improve timeliness without sacrificing the quality of care or caseload. Here are five tips to improve medical practice time management.

Evaluate Current Bottlenecks

First, look at where systems are getting backed up and inefficiencies occur. This exercise will highlight the top opportunities for improvement. It can also help highlight inefficiencies that you weren’t aware of in your practice so you can re-evaluate your current systems.

Once you identify the bottlenecks, dive into the cause behind them. Empower staff to share their honest input, experiences, and suggestions for guidance. Take time to self-reflect and determine whether any of your actions or routines are impacting service.

Outsource Transcription Work

Delegation and outsourcing are essential for improving time management and minimizing friction points in the patient experience. Outsourcing transcription work to a virtual medical scribe is a smart solution for improving time management without navigating the hiring and staffing process. This option is also scalable, so you can increase or decrease the workload in accordance with your practice needs.

Take some time to assess each staff member’s workload and determine whether there’s room for improvement. Shifting certain tasks from one staff member to another could improve efficiencies and create more balance in your workflows. Look outside the lens of a job description and consider employees’ skills and potential.

Incorporate Self-Service Portals

Empowering patients to serve themselves is an effective strategy for reducing resource requirements while improving the patient experience. Implementing a self-service portal where patients can schedule their own appointment reduces calls to the office, subsequently reducing frustrating wait times. These programs also send automated reminders to reduce no-shows and can be streamlined with billing programs.

Having information readily available online can also improve self-service. Create educational literature and documentation stored in a central location that your patients can access. This offering helps on two fronts: diminishing the risk of lost literature and creating a referral library to minimize appointment times.

For example, if a patient misplaces the print-out about their surgical recovery, a self-service portal would allow them to find the information from your practice online. Similarly, if a patient has additional questions, you can send a link or direct them to the portal for more information. 

Use Batching and Clinics

Incorporating batch work into a medical practice can be challenging but helps streamline workflow processes. Consider batching specific appointment types together or offering clinic days. You can also create add-ons for existing appointments to reduce the need for repeat scheduling.

Flu vaccines are a prime opportunity for clinics and batching. You can set aside a few days for flu vaccines or work with community programs to host access clinics. Similarly, you can have everything prepared in the exam room when someone comes in for something else and ask if they’ve scheduled their flu shot yet.

Virtual appointments present another opportunity for batching. Block scheduled time blocks for virtual appointments and telemedicine rather than incorporating them into the in-person schedule.

This approach also improves proactivity. Look ahead at peak seasons and consider how you can minimize procrastination with reminders and appointment batching. 

Set Improvement Goals and KPIs

Finally, set clear goals and metrics to track progress with your time management efforts. You won’t have a true understanding of what works and what doesn’t without clear parameters. Some key metrics to consider include:

  • Average time behind schedule
  • Call rate
  • No-show frequency
  • Monthly transcription completion rate

Look beyond financial metrics and consider the actions that lead to better profitability. Rather than making cuts or adjusting your approach to client care, consider implementing these effective time management metrics to streamline efforts and improve patient satisfaction.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

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