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Improving the Health of Your Practice

There are common challenges to running an efficient, yet pleasant, physician office practice. While many problems cannot be eliminated altogether, these creative solutions can help you clear the biggest hurdles.

Finding and Keeping Staff
Finding and keeping a great staff is important to every business.

Maintaining a skilled and experienced team is paramount to running an efficient physician practice. One of the best ways to encourage longevity is to make the workplace more interesting. Challenging your employees in ways that keep them engaged and fulfilled will benefit your practice in the long term. Provide solid training and support. Unfortunately, some of the critical functions in a busy office are also the most monotonous. One antidote to the tedium can be cross-training employees to perform in multiple areas of the practice. This adds variety and builds everyone’s professional credentials, as well as providing office flexibility. You can also add an element of fun with occasional events that say you appreciate your staff’s dedication. These can be simple and inexpensive events throughout the year like hosting a staff lunch, or celebrating the change of season with an ice cream social for staff and patients.

Purchasing the Appropriate Technology
When considering the real-world needs of today's health care offices, physicians and office administrators are demanding more from practice management software than ever before. Practice management software can increase efficiency and reduce costs while managing the day-to-day operations. It can capture patient demographics, schedule appointments, maintain lists of insurance payers, perform billing tasks, and generate reports.

There are many practice management software options on the market from which to choose. The key to finding the best system for your office is having a firm handle on what the office needs. Let the unique needs of your office drive conversations with vendors. This strategy will help you focus on the important features and prevent distractions by fancy bells and whistles that may be interesting, but are irrelevant to your office.

In this multitasking, over-scheduled, fast-paced society, more and more people are showing up late for their appointments or, even worse, not showing up at all. There are several strategies for reigning in that lost time that can cost the practice money and make waiting times unpredictable.

Same-day appointments: Leave ample room in the daily schedule for same-day appointments. After all, people call the doctor when they are feeling ill and want an appointment as soon as possible. The no-show rate of same-day appointments is very low.

Appointment reminder calls: In addition to leaving reminder messages on patients’ answering machines, consider asking them to call back to confirm their appointment. If they do not confirm, then the appointment is canceled. The office can apply this policy to all appointments or only a subset of visits such as new patients or those scheduled for lengthy procedures. Be sure that if your office requires a confirmation, the office staff can handle the extra calls.

Charging patients for missed appointments: Some physician offices have resorted to collecting a $15 to $25 fee from patients who miss scheduled appointments. If your office wants to institute this kind of policy, be sure to notify patients in writing in advance and post signs in waiting and exam rooms. The scheduler should also remind patients about the fee when scheduling all appointments.