This article on how to keep your practice running smoothly focuses on billing, collection, filing and other functions.
Like any busy enterprise, a medical practice can resemble a perpetual motion machine. And like most machines, it's subject to glitches, slowdowns, and worse if systems aren't constantly watched, reassessed, and updated. Still, practice management consultants report hearing the phrase "because that is the way we have always done it" over and over.
"Rather than settling into routines that may be inefficient or outmoded, physicians and their office managers need to occasionally step back and ask, 'Is there a better way?' " says Michael J. Wiley, of Healthcare Management and Consulting Services, Bay Shore, New York.
How can you identify which steps in your practice's workflow process are redundant, which can be eliminated, and which can be improved?
Start by meeting with individuals performing the tasks where slowdowns occur, and look for solutions, says Judy Capko, a practice management consultant with Capko & Co. in Thousand Oaks, California, and the author of Secrets of the Best-Run Practices. If, for example, the people in your back office are inundated by patient phone calls the week after they send out billing statements, the practice can:
To avoid duplication of effort and the possibility that tasks will be overlooked, have staff members write down what they view as their primary and secondary responsibilities and shared tasks, then compare the resulting lists to see where several employees-or no employees-are claiming the same tasks and which staff member is most appropriate to perform specific duties.
"I find staffers love participating in such exercises and being part of the solution process," Capko says.