Anyone who spends hours in the crowded waiting room of a medical clinic has feelings ranging from anxiety to frustration. But in times of COVID-19, a new reaction was added: fear. After all, too many patients confined for too long in the same room can help spread contagious diseases.
In these times, saving your patients hours of waiting is not only humane, but it’s also healthier. As the owner/manager of a medical clinic or private practice, you should try to streamline and modernize processes to improve the efficiency of care, making room for new patients who may appear. The good news is that you can achieve this with some basic changes and reduced investments.
From when a new patient enters your clinic to the moment they leave the doctor’s office, one of the most time-consuming moments is certainly the billing process. It can slow down the clinic and keep your reception staff hands full for quite a while doing something that could easily be automated.
You should understand what revenue cycle management is to fully streamline the billing processes. Being quite synthetic, RCM goes from the initial consultation to the payment of the bill. It involves factors such as registration, case management, and the identification (coding) of the treatments that the patient has received.
There is a lot of information to collect and analyze, and you can expedite this step by using billing software to automate certain aspects. Some of the other benefits include:
- Faster and easier access to patient’s data
- Prevents the accumulation of paper medical records
- Allows easier tracking of claims
- Decreases chance of errors compared to the manual process
- Facilitates research by medical coding
Improve Patient Flow.
Scheduling medical appointments can be tricky: the same professional may be seeing too many patients without a break while another may have a gap of hours between appointments. More efficient scheduling is critical to improving patient flow.
To do this, create a digital schedule shared among all staff. A good tip is to combine multiple appointments into one to save time. If one patient needs to have a lab test in the morning, it’s unfair to keep the person waiting until late afternoon to show the results. Try to allot the proper amount of staff for each patient instead of keeping them waiting.
A clinic’s design plays a very important role in ensuring more efficient care. For example, if the distance from the waiting room to the doctor’s office requires a long walk through different corridors, older patients or people with reduced mobility may feel impaired.
The layout of your clinic should make life easier for patients and staff. Here are some of the things you need to consider:
- Don’t forget to provide comfortable furniture in the waiting room for patients who can’t wait for long minutes in an uncomfortable physical situation
- The route between the waiting room, the doctor’s office, and the exit must be as short and unobstructed as possible
- Plan the rooms considering the size of the equipment, as different specialties require more or less machinery
- Pay special attention to wires and extensions, because loose cables along the way can cause accidents
Have you taken a look at your reception staff’s routine recently? Have you ever considered how many times they need to stop dealing with a patient to take a phone call from someone wanting to make an appointment?
Make life easier for everyone by offering electronic scheduling for your patients. There are different digital systems and some even allow the patient to make an appointment automatically through the clinic’s website or a mobile app, without the need to speak to anyone.
The schedule automatically goes into your system without a staff member having to do it manually. Certain systems also send out reminders to the patients, preventing them from forgetting their appointment.
More Efficiency, More Income.
An inefficient medical clinic can bring its administrator a lot of headaches. Stressed or underutilized employees, overcrowded waiting rooms, enraged patients, errors in charts or accounts—you name it.
Identifying and correcting the points where processes get stuck or take longer is essential to provide a more humane service. It also allows you to improve short-term financial results, as you will be managing your resources effectively, avoiding errors and risks, and improving patient flow.
For some administrators, a crowded waiting room is synonymous with success—because it represents many patients interested in their services. But only agile processes, with more patients in the offices than waiting, will bring more income at the end of the month.