As you’ve probably noticed, we’ve dedicated a sizeable portion of this month’s blog space to helping you and your clinic conserve resources and become more environmentally conscious. But let’s not forget about the most important resource of all—your time! You might assume that you need a major systematic overhaul to improve work efficiency in your clinic. Not so. In this case, small investments pay big dividends. Here are some quick tips to help you get the most out of every minute:
1. Establish a process. Once you’ve fine-tuned your routine, educate staff and patients about what you expect from them. This is especially helpful for repeat clients; once a patient learns the drill, he or she will move through it quickly on subsequent visits.
2. Keep traffic flowing. You don’t want anyone—especially your patients—to feel rushed, but you don’t have to be a drill sergeant to keep things moving. Prep therapy areas ahead of time and make sure all necessary supplies are out and ready to go. Don’t let patients stand around and twiddle their thumbs after they arrive. Whenever possible, enlist the help of an aide or an assistant to get them started right off the bat with ultrasound, heat therapy, or pre-exercise warm-ups.
3. Avoid handoffs. This is not a relay race; passing around a task like it’s a baton will only lead to mistakes and wasted effort. Unless there’s a solid reason for multiple employees to have their hands in a certain job, let one person take the reins and get ’er done.
4. Huddle up. Try starting each day with a short staff pow wow—we’re talking ten minutes, tops—to review the day’s schedule and discuss any questions or concerns. Are there patients on the schedule who might require extra time or assistance? Are there any appointment openings you can fill? Does anyone need to leave early today? By anticipating challenges and addressing them before they occur, you significantly reduce the time spent dealing with them during the workday.
5. Create a culture of timeliness. If you have a lax attitude about your clinic’s schedule, your staff and patients will follow suit—and that opens up the door for lollygagging employees and lots of canceled appointments and no-shows. Show you mean business by making a genuine effort to stick to the schedule. If you’re swamped, don’t get hung up on time-sucking tasks that you can tackle later, once things settle down. In short, respect the time of others, and they will return the favor.
6. Find your groove. Working styles are not one-size-fits-all. Maybe you have a great memory and prefer to dive into notes at the end of the day, when you can knock it all out in one fell swoop. Or maybe you’d rather document as you go, while details are still fresh in your mind. Experiment with different approaches, find what works best for you, and then go forth and conquer.
7. Get techy. Using an EMR system is a huge time-saver on its own, but pairing it with the right tools will raise your clinic’s efficiency to the next level. Not a gadget geek? No problem. Most of today’s programs and devices—the good ones, anyway—are super intuitive and user-friendly. If you’ve got some wiggle room in your budget, consider investing in tablets—iPads are by far the most popular—for your therapists and assistants so they can access patient charts and flow sheets anytime, anywhere. Want to pull up a Netter Anatomy diagram to help a patient understand her injury? Tablets can do that, too. Sure beats running back to your office all the time, right? If you’ve already outfitted your office with iPads, here are a couple more tech upgrades to consider:
- Pagers or text messaging for your support staff—that way, your receptionist doesn’t waste time circling the building in search of a certain employee.
- Dual monitors for your billing staff. Sifting through a mish-mash of numbers and codes is hard enough; constantly toggling between windows makes the job even more tedious.
Those are my seven tips for improving work efficiency. What do you recommend?