Many providers are having a difficult time with increased workloads, a result of the Affordable Care Act, ever-changing guidelines, prior authorization requests, increased review and delayed payments by payers. It is increasingly more difficult for a practice to manage so many obstacles collectively. Without an efficiency plan in place to decrease ineffective staff routines, a practice can be at risk of decreased revenue as a consequence of having to reimburse workers for literally… wasted time. Here are six ways practice managers can increase practice efficiency:
1. Assign the PM system to automatically contact patients. For example, the PM system can help practices send routine foot care reminders, appointments for follow-ups, and notices to pick up DME equipment. Systems can send pre-set appointment reminders via text, phone call or email, based on the chosen mode of communication by the patient. These automated contacts reduce the number of no-shows in a work day. By not having to communicate with patients directly the staff gains more time to accomplish other important tasks. It would certainly behoove an office to use a PM system that offers these features.
2. Encourage patient participation. Motivate your patients to use your EHR’s patient portal. There they have the capability to make appointments, request medication refills, make payments, find educational materials, access lab results, send a message to their physician and to even fill out on boarding forms for their first office visit. Features in the portal not only help practices increase efficiency, but they also assist with the patient’s ability to contact the practice for their specific needs.
3. Establish a routine for checking eligibility. Sending claims to an incorrect payer is a major contributor to lost resources for a practice. Billing staff will take time and exhaust hours sorting through the EOBs for the denial reason, researching the patient’s chart and ultimately having to contact the patient for their current insurance plan. The claim will need to be corrected and resent in a timely manner.
An office procedure should essentially be created and implemented to collect the proper insurance information when the patient is physically in the office and before the physician sees them. Subsequently, this type of inefficient run around by office staff can certainly be avoided.
4. Track claim rejections and denials. It is of extreme importance to follow the trail of all claims sent out electronically. They must be monitored daily. Any claims with rejections or denials should immediately be addressed, corrected and resent. Discovering the reason for these problems helps avoid the same error from reoccurring on future claims and results in less paid staff hours correcting and resending those claims.
5. Office meetings. Bringing the staff together to review office policies, procedures, and protocols will lead to a workflow that is streamlined. Each worker should be trained to know what the correct method is to complete their task is and what is expected from them and their co-workers. This transparency lends itself to a more efficient and cohesive practice, eliminating errors that can cause added labor in the long run.
6. Build an improved practice. Efficiency in the practice workflow will save money and time. Isolate weak approaches and procedures by the staff members and begin to improve on them one at a time. Consider asking the staff for their input in describing where they feel the practice needs improvement. Dissect the problems and contemplate making important deviations to bring the office workflow up to the level of efficiency required for maximum productivity.
Great results can be achieved from a smooth-running efficient practice. It is not as difficult to obtain as one may think. With a bit of focus and attention to efficiency, the staff and practice owner will see unquestionable results from their efforts.