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Medical Practice Efficiency Strategies to Improve Patient Care

Healthcare expenditure is increasing steadily around the world, with Australia now spending more than AUD$170 billion a year. And yet despite a rapidly growing investment in health care resources, medical practice at the grassroots level still often involves inefficient administrative procedures that take up valuable time that could be better spent focused on patient care.

What’s happening

In response tocalls by health care providers for technology that reduces their administrative burden and allows them to spend more time with their patients, the health sector is currently investing heavily in programs that make the delivery of health services more effective and efficient.

These include digital services that provide instant access to a patient’s medical information, particularly in emergencies and help to support early diagnosis and better disease management.

The government’s My Health Record initiative is one such service, in which every Australian will have an online medical record unless they choose to opt out, which will be able to be accessed by health care providers with the patient’s permission.

But while technology is part of the solution, the cause of many inefficiencies in medical practice can be traced back to basic administrative procedures which are time consuming and focused on the practice rather than on its clientele.

Fortunately, there are some simple strategies that can greatly improve the efficiency of your medical practice and free up more time for your health care providers to focus on providing quality patient care.

What you can do

You must identify key areas which are slowing your practice down. To help, here are some questions to ask.

1. What’s slowing the practice down?

The first step is to pinpoint where things are slowing down or backing up due to inefficient procedures. If you map out the steps involved from a patient making an appointment through to them paying for it afterwards, you can look at each process in the chain to see whether there is a more efficient way of doing things – i.e. are practitioners spending too much time on paperwork or chasing down information that could be sourced by somebody else in the practice?

2. How can bottlenecks be reduced?

Once you have identified the bottlenecks, you then need to think of ways to open them up to allow for a more unrestricted workflow. Often it comes down to delegation – working out which tasks could be performed by less qualified staff members to give your specialists more time to do what they are trained to do.

Delegation can also involve outsourcing to partnered service providers who can do the job faster, more accurately and more cost-effectively. SyberScribe medical transcription services are one such example, with a team of highly skilled medical typists, transcribers and editors, using the latest transcription technology and secure data transfer to provide a seamless transcription partnership with your clinic.

3. How is information shared within the clinic?

The way that information is being exchanged can also be a source of bottlenecks. Examine how it is shared between staff at your clinic, between staff and your patients and between staff and other healthcare providers, and look at ways to simplify and even automate those exchanges which are lower in priority or overly time-consuming.

4. How are you scheduling appointments?

Another area of potential bottlenecks is appointment scheduling. You can improve patient flow by making educated assumptions about the length of appointment time different patient demographics will require. For example, less of the allocated 15 minutes of a GP’s time could be spent with young healthy patients and more spent with older patients with chronic conditions.

New patient scheduling can also be streamlined by having patients arrive early for their appointment so they can fill out the necessary paperwork or having an online form which they can submit prior to the day of the appointment.

5. What does your billing process look like?

Another bottleneck which can impact the cash flow of a business is your billing process. If you are using outdated payment procedures, you are not being reimbursed as quickly as you could be. Investing in the latest payment software that allows you to integrate government concessions and Medicare rebates can speed up the billing process substantially and also reduce the degree of human error involved.

What’s next?

A survey by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) has shown that despite the vast majority of surveyed patients being satisfied with their local GP’s knowledge of their health status following a visit to a specialist (76%), far less participants (62%) were as confident regarding the communication of their medical status after a visit to a hospital emergency department.

This shows there is still a lot of work to be done to improve the availability of patient information through technology.

But as this guide has shown, patient care can be improved at the grassroots level by streamlining simple admin procedures to make them more efficient and free up more time for doctors to spend with their patients.

Contact us today at SyberScribe to find out about our secure, tailored, low-cost and outsourced medical transcription services. We can help you improve practice efficiency and free up time for patient care.