- The more efficient you can make your private practice, the more you can help it grow. Improving medical office efficiency means you are saving time for your staff and patients, and that you are able to schedule appointments more effectively.
- While more traditional methods were touted for how to see patients more efficiently in the past, now technology can play a huge role in making your private medical practice more efficient.
- Finding a medical office software that already integrates with the systems you use, like your practice management software or EHRs, will reduce the amount of manual work for your staff, while saving time and reducing potential errors in data re-entry.
- With anything you plan to add to improve the efficiency of your private medical practice, make sure that the digital tools are HIPAA-compliant and improve your return on investment.
Private practice efficiency leads to growth
Efficiency is a crucial element to building a stable, profitable healthcare private practice. Learning how to see patients more efficiently is key to building revenue. The faster you can get patients through the office, the more you’ll be able to book, and the more you will remain profitable.
Generally, recommendations about opening an efficient private practice are all about hiring more people or using the right medical office technology. It wasn’t too long ago that keeping electronic health records (EHRs) was the go-to recommendation for running efficient medical offices. In fact, EHR usage has grown from around 20% in 2004 to 86% in 2017.
Other recommendations to improve medical office efficiency have included outsourcing tasks, hiring scribes to take notes, and training administrative staff to work more effectively. But with the technology and digital tools available to you today, you can go well beyond these more traditional recommendations to improve practice efficiency and run a more effective private practice than ever before.
The top 8 ways doctors can improve efficiency with patients
When doctors are trying to figure out how to see patients more efficiently, consider a combination of training and technology. What will make the most difference in your private practice? Choose the one or two improvements to start with and build over time. Remember, if doctors can improve the efficiency of their office bit by bit, over time, you’ll have accumulated a wealth of tools that can all be used to see your patients more efficiently.
Using telemedicine visits
While it was already on the rise, most patients have fully embraced telemedicine, and see virtual visits as one part of their overall healthcare experience. Telemedicine visits save time for both patients and practitioners. On average, patients save about 100 minutes of their own time, since they don’t have to commute or wait in an office to be seen.
This type of visit also saves time for the practice. Telemedicine visits are often more focused, with a lot of the questions handled beforehand, meaning you can get right into the appointment. Some telemedicine tools also come with loose time limits so that you can stay on track with your appointments for the day and not fall behind. These virtual visits also serve as a triage opportunity. Does your patient need to come in or a follow-up appointment, or was the problem resolved in one visit?
It may sound like you’d be sacrificing patient experience in favor of time saving, but you’re not – 77 percent of patients who have tried virtual visits are highly satisfied with the experience.
Offering telemedicine as an option means that you are also able to provide last-minute appointments that your patients are more likely to take without needing to make complicated arrangements. To keep from confusing patients with extra downloads or sign-ups, consider a telehealth tool that only requires a link click to start, and make sure that whatever you’re using is HIPAA-compliant.
NexHealth offers a fully HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform with video services being offered for free during the pandemic. Unlike free video conferencing services, NexHealth has built-in security features that don’t require extra effort or money to set up. Time well spent for you!
Digital Intake Paperwork and Medical Forms
Are your patients filling out redundant information? Does your intake process still involve paper, and mailing forms to your new patients? Digitizing the forms you already use and integrating them into your current practice management software is a great way to improve patient flow in your clinic.
NexHealth’s Form Builder allows you to recreate the forms you already have as HIPAA-compliant digital forms, connect with your EHR or practice management software, and send to patients via text message or email. Save time for patients in the waiting room and save data entry time for your staff, all while reducing mistakes and redundancies.
Automate the booking process
Playing phone tag or sending emails back and forth to schedule appointments for your patients eats up a lot of time. Plus, almost half of all patients book appointments after-hours. If you’re not making it easy for your patients to book, you are closing the door on more potential appointments, as well as limiting your ability to fill cancellations.
Offering online booking, and automating as much of the process as possible, will save your staff time, and help you get more appointments. NexHealth’s online booking software allows you to show real-time provider availability with the click of a button, made available to patients whenever it is convenient to book for them. If a cancellation occurs, the spot can be filled with your virtual waitlist. Text and email automation mean that your staff won’t waste any time getting the appointments filled, and you won’t have any calendar gaps.
If you think online booking isn’t important when opening a private practice, think again. Over three-quarters of patients want to be able to book, change, and cancel visits online. Not offering this as an option may close your door to patients you didn’t even know were interested in booking. Whatever software you use, make sure it is HIPAA-compliant, easy to use, and that it provides a strong return on investment. Any software that significantly reduces staff time on scheduling is worth its weight.
Template and Automate Your Reminders
You’ve probably sensed a trend with this list. Many digital tools are now available to help you streamline patient processes. Why slow your staff down by sending manual emails to patients, when you could be creating templates and automated workflows instead?
Creating a few simple email templates for the most common messages you send to patients – appointment reminders, annual checkups, and new services offered, for example – can save your staff countless hours, and ensure patients don’t fall through the communication cracks. NexHealth offers tools that help you segment and schedule messages based on simple criteria via either SMS or email. You can personalize and track emails easily to learn which templates are performing the best, and test out different messaging.
Train Employees on Any New Technology
Rolling out new digital tools is a great way to improve medical office efficiency. However, the tools are only as good as the people who use them. Train your employees properly and make sure they understand the ins and outs about what you want them to use. The more they are up to speed, the more they can properly, and quickly, help your patients.
Get an Early Start
When you’re incorporating new tools into your private practice, there’s bound to be a bit of a learning curve. You’re saving so much time by employing these tools, but you also want to be prepared for unexpected road bumps, especially for virtual visits. What if the internet goes out, for example, or your space isn’t ready in time for your first appointment? Get a jumpstart on the day by being at least 15-20 minutes early for your first appointment. This will set the tone for the rest of the day, and help keep you from getting behind first thing in the morning.
Allow for Easy Online Payment
Chasing down patients to pay their bills can be both costly and time-consuming. Automated patient statements can be scheduled to send after an appointment and accessed by patients through text message or email. Digital payment systems simplify and speed up the billing process. For example, NexHealth’s online bill pay means that 80% of patients pay within 10 business days.
Connect as Many Systems Together as Possible
We’ve alluded to it above, but it bears repeating – the more you can integrate with your practice management or EHR software, the better. Any time you add an integration, you reduce manual work for your staff. When choosing solutions to best accomplish this, learn more about what they integrate with already, and whether it will work with your existing systems. NexHealth offers an all-in-one tool for virtual visits, online booking, bill pay, intake and patient information forms, email/SMS messaging, chat, and more. The best part is that all of NexHealth’s tools are designed to integrate with your existing systems. No need to compromise or construct a workaround.
Private Practice Efficiency is Crucial
Keeping your private practice efficient is necessary to keep up with competitors and stay up-to-date with the modern advances brought to healthcare, which now have been increasing at a faster rate due to the need to adapt quickly to the digital realm. However, with the eight tips listed above, you should be more than ready to tackle any efficiency problems in your private practice, and come out the other side ready to better serve your patients.
Ready to learn digital tools to help you acquire new patients and scale your practice? Download our free eBook today.