Dermatology World February 2011 : Page 21

management insights answers in practice 5. Track the phones. A medical practice has constant interrup-tions due to telephone calls. Patients call for all sorts of reasons including appoint-ments, prescription refills, and clinical questions, among others. Automating as much of this as possible will lead to greater efficiency. Evaluate all of your incoming telephone calls to determine how many calls your practice receives on average per day, the amount of time staff spend on each call, how long patients have to remain on hold, and the number of dropped calls. Look for areas of im-provement. Are there more calls occur-ring at a specific period of time during the day or week? It may be worthwhile to ask another staff member to help cover phone calls during that time. Are there a lot of dropped calls? This could be due to excessive hold times which could be minimized by allowing patients to leave voicemails or increasing staff support. Make sure to note what the most com-mon questions asked by patients are, as the answers could be noted on your practice website or voicemail record-ing. Information about your practice’s address, driving directions, financial policies, and insurance forms should be readily available on your website. Optimum scheduling According to the Academy’s 2009 Dermatology Practice Profile Survey, derma-tologists see 129 patients per week during an average of 34 hours per week. Thus, dermatologists see an average of four patients per hour. The following is an example of an “open access” schedule that allows for same-day appoint-ments in a practice with four providers: Time 11:00 11:10 11:20 11:30 11:40 11:50 12:00 Procedure MOhS New Patient Open for Same Day Appointments Open for Same Day Appointments Follow up PrOViDer 1 PrOViDer 2 PrOViDer 3 Follow up PrOViDer 4 Follow up Be prepared. Make sure staff pre-pares the office for business every morning. All rooms should be cleaned well ahead of the first appointment time and equipment should be laid out by med-ical assistants before the physician enters the room. If you use an electronic health record (EHR), make sure the computer is turned on ahead of time and all adminis-trative data is captured by office staff prior to the physician’s documentation. Your practice may find it helpful to standardize these procedures and have checklists avail-able for staff each morning. 6. Administrative simplification. Much of a practice’s efficiency is dependent upon insurance information. The current practice model requires physicians to bill an insurer for a ser-vice, receive an explanation of benefits (EOB), and then bill the patient for their responsibility after their visit. However, a new method is beginning to take place within practices involving real-time claims adjudication. This allows prac-tices to find out exactly what the patient owes at the time of service. Several ven-dors and insurers offer a web portal that the practice can log into and determine the appropriate patient charge even be-fore they are seen by a physician. Check with your insurer to determine if this is feasible for your practice as it will help you not only increase your efficiency but proactively collect revenue. Become tech-savvy. As technology continues to revolutionize the health care industry, your practice must find ways to incorporate this into your workflow. If you have not implemented 7. 8. an EHR or electronic prescribing system, investigate whether these technologies will work with your practice. Visit the Academy’s website for a full range of in-formation at www.aad.org/hitkit. Kiosks are also becoming popular in practices as they give patients the opportunity to input all of their demographic and insur-ance information directly into the office’s practice management system. If your practice does not have a website, consider creating one that can be used with a patient portal for prescription refills, lab results, and electronic communication with the physician. Managing an efficient practice isn’t easy, but if you try to implement some of these steps you will begin to see substantial gains. Remember to continually evaluate your office’s workflow and investigate new processes as there is always room for improvement. dw rAChNA ChAuDhAri’s column will appear again in the June issue of Dermatology World . have a question you’d like her to answer? E-mail it to dweditor@aad.org. Dermatology WorlD // February 2011 21

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