Even if you think that your workflow is perfect the way it is, it can’t hurt to reevaluate it once in a while and find an opportunity to fine tune it. We know that optimizing an office workflow is no small task, so in this blog post, we would like to share a tip for each step of your workflow, and you can use each tip as a checklist of how to better your workflow.
Front Office: Practices that spend 25-33% of their time on the phone to schedule and confirm appointments are managing appointments inefficiently.
It’s surprising to us to hear that many practices still rely on spreadsheets or appointment books to manage their schedules, but it’s true! Practice management software not only replaces these outdated solutions, but they also make managing your schedule more robust and efficient. You can use a software’s scheduler to manage resources at a variety of levels, such as by doctor or rooms. You can also set parameters for time slots by exam type, or automatically block certain resources for periods of time. Beyond all that, you can search the scheduler for appointments based on a variety of criteria rather than having your staff look for availability manually.
Pre Exam: Practices shouldn’t be afraid to arrange their workflow to have the technicians share the workload and take as much of the non-exam work off of the doctor’s plate as possible.
Many practices don’t realize that their technicians can take on more than their current responsibilities. The doctor’s time is the most valuable in your practice, and they should be focused on the actual exam and treatment, not paperwork or administrative tasks. That’s where your technicians come in.
All equipment required for pre-testing should be easily synced to the EHR so the results can be directly imported for the doctor’s use. Technicians should perform the standard pretests as usual. But based on the customized needs of your patients, check out these suggested task assignments that can help your technician reduce your doctor’s workload.
Exam: If the doctor of the practice is seeing 1.5-2 patients per hour, you’re not performing as well as you should.
Paper charts hinder efficiency, and not just in the exam lane. While data documentation should be standardized, there’s potential that not everyone in your practice has been trained to use the same abbreviations, terminology, and charting format. Even illegible handwriting can create potential problems, resulting in incomplete or inaccurate healthcare data collection as the patient’s papers move from one part of your workflow to the next.
If you’re currently using EHR software to conduct exams, are you spending more time documenting information on the software than you did on paper? You shouldn’t! Your system should guide you through your exam workflow quickly and smoothly. The EHR should generate codes for treatment plans, billing, orders, procedures, and patient counseling. An EHR is going to help make patient visit go faster, allowing you to see more patients!
Optical: Opticians should educate the patients on the importance of glasses that fit their lifestyle and needs according to the doctor’s prescription to boost frame sales.
An electronic handoff in this part of the workflow between the doctor and the optician is exceptionally important. On top of just a prescription, the doctor should hand off a prescribed lens material based on the patient’s lifestyle or needs. With this additional information, the optician can educate the patients on the importance of that specific lens type, as recommended by their doctor, as part of the complete eyewear buying experience. When your patients are educated, they see the value in purchasing their glasses from your practice, instead of an online retailer.
Billing: Your practice should pay close attention to the billing section of the workflow if your reimbursement cycle is at 4-6 weeks. But it is in good shape if you’re receiving reimbursements in about 2 weeks!
How does your practice submit claims today? Is your staff going directly to each payer’s website, or using a clearinghouse? If using a clearinghouse, does your practice take advantage of claim uploading from a practice management system? The answers to each of these questions will say a lot about your practice’s claim submission efficiency. Clearinghouses make it easy to submit primary and secondary claims to thousands of payers, all from one site. If you use a practice management system, you can even generate a claim file and simply upload it to the clearinghouse rather than re-typing all of that claim information. Most electronic solutions also come with automatic error-checking features to catch mistakes before submission and provide instructions to correct the mistakes.
Need more workflow tips? Check out our eBook, “Optimizing Your Workflow with Optometry Software!”