How to See Patients More Efficiently and Maximize your Practice
EHR related administrative tasks account for 30-50% of a physician's workday, and most doctors spend around 3.5 hours per day on medical documentation. Seeing patients more efficiently starts with reimagining medical documentation.
How to See Patients More Efficiently and Maximize your Practice
In order for your medical practice to start seeing patients more efficiently, it’s first important to understand what slows you down and handicaps your productivity. Identifying these issues is the first step in addressing how to change them, and is an essential element of efficient patient care and maximizing positive care outcomes and revenue.
For the sake of organization, we’ve broken up these common inefficiencies into two major categories. The first category is what we’ll refer to as “Administrative Inefficiencies,” or practice inefficiencies that can be linked to patient check-in, appointment management, patient scheduling, reimbursement, and other similar administrative tasks. We lump all of these together not because they’re all the same, but because they happen in and around the patient visit, and they generally can be solved using similar approaches. Seeing patients efficiently isn’t just about harnessing better in-visit practices, it’s about streamlining the entire process as best as possible. Minutes matter.
The second big category is what we will refer to as “Documentation Inefficiencies.” While, yes, tasks like clinical documentation and EHR work are inherently administrative as well, they are such an invasive issue for practitioners that we believe they are deserving of their own category, and thus their own solution. But more on that later.
As mentioned, the inefficiencies that surround the entire patient experience are perhaps more crippling to your practice than you may be giving them credit for. For one practice, it was found that patient check-in alone took 8 minutes on average, mainly due to “lengthy computer searches for patient names, insurance-related work that was duplicated, and lags when the nurse assigned to ‘room’ the patient was occupied.”
Depending on your staffing model, if those 8 minutes were reduced to, say, 2 minutes, the other 6 could be spent scheduling follow ups, collecting copayments, or generally just reducing employee time on the clock and thus overtime pay. This is just one example of the spiral effect that takes place if just one element of the process hits a snag. Let’s get into some of the ways practitioners can mitigate these snags and see patients more efficiently.
Mobile check-in, or Kiosk-based check-in has been found to reduce patient wait times by as much as 80%. In the practice above, introducing an effective online check-in process could reduce that 8 minute check-in time to the more desirable 2 minutes, all without straining staff.
Patient Portals & Secure Messaging
Of studied practices who adopted patient portals and secure messaging methodologies, it was concluded that the prevalence of patient portals was related to more positive patient health outcomes, improved doctor-patient relationships, and improved health status awareness. Due to relatively new adoption of patient portals and secure messaging practices, empirical data supporting their positive impact on efficiency is a bit sparse.
That being said, a retroactive study that used past patient data in the Kaiser system to address impacts of portals and messaging found that there was a significant relationship between online patience communication and improved performance in HEDIS measures — one of healthcares most widely used performance and efficiency improvement tools. Researchers suspect that implementing these methods may increase the continuity of care and better patient-physician connectedness. Additionally, online communication reduces overhead costs for mailing, billing, and phone call follow ups.
For physicians, delegation may be the most important and effective weapon used against inefficiency. If your day is filled with more administrative work than patient care, then you may consider delegating. Remember, your unique set of skills are most valuable when utilized to help people live healthier, better lives, not scheduling and collecting copayments. Trust your stuff and delegate whatever you can so you can focus on your patients.
Clinical Documentation Inefficiencies
While it’s important to streamline the inefficiencies surrounding a patient visit, most of the time these solutions result in small improvements to the patient experience, often only shaving a few minutes here and there so that your practice runs more smoothly. But when it comes to actually seeing patients more efficiently throughout each and every workday, the biggest issues are those related to inefficiencies with clinical documentation and EHRs.
From a numbers standpoint, EHR related administrative tasks account for 30-50% of a physician's workday, and most doctors spend around 3.5 hours per day on medical documentation. So, really, everything related to seeing patients efficiently starts with medical documentation.
The main way to improve patient visit efficiency is to do whatever you can to streamline EHR documentation, as it is the number one cause of patient dissatisfaction and physician burnout. Some of the methods we suggest include using note templates, partnering with your EHR vendor to adopt best practices, hiring a nurse informaticist to streamline your workflow, and documenting during the patient visit.
Recommended Reading: 6 Tips for More Efficient EHR Documentation.
But, chances are, you’ve probably adopted at least one of these methods at your practice. Yet, here you are reading this article. And it’s not your fault! Significantly reducing the size of the administrative mountain that EHRs have created is not easy. Simply implementing note templating won’t all of a sudden drastically change your patient visit efficiency. If it was that simple, EHRs wouldn’t still be the leading cause of physician burnout year after year.
Today, almost all providers use some sort of outsourced medical documentation aid in some capacity. Between traditional medical scribes, medical transcriptionists, dictation devices, and speech recognition tools, there are countless options to choose from. The goal for each of these solutions is clear: reduce physician documentation time. But in practice, many of these tools aren’t as great as promised. In most instances, the documentation solution simply takes one burdensome administrative task and replaces it with another. Take dictation and transcription for example, providers simply substitute hand writing their notes with dictating them, and as such the cognitive load and time needed to produce complete notes aren’t significantly reduced.
Recommended Reading: Pros and Cons to Medical Transcription
Automate your Medical Notes with AI
The best way to see patients more efficiently is to take an approach that totally redesigns the documentation process. At DeepScribe, our technology uses AI to help automate medical notes so that you don’t have to write them, dictate them, or implement the final copy into your EHR. With DeepScribe, all a provider needs to do is record the patient visit on their phone and we take care of the rest.
Using speech recognition and an AI system called “natural language processing,” we can extract all of the medically relevant information right from the natural conversation of your patient visit, create a medical note to your preferences, and then push that note directly into your EHR. Turn your chair away from the computer and back to your patient, and DeepScribe will create your medical notes for you.
When thinking about that 3.5 hour industry average that plagues physicians, this is one of the only tools that can significantly reduce that time in earnest. Our partners save up to 3 hours per day on their medical documentation.