Essential Guide to Practice Efficiency

Practice efficiency is key to the well-being of your medical business. It guides the physician and patient experience at your practice and plays a pivotal role in business success as well as the physician burnout epidemic.

Chaotic work environments, overwhelming time pressures, and an incredible amount of stress create an environment in which medical staff experience emotional exhaustion, interpersonal disengagement, and a sense of inadequacy. If these symptoms resonate with your practice, you may be dealing with practice inefficiency.

Is your medical practice struggling with practice efficiency? To create a work environment in which your medical practice can begin to thrive, understand the importance of practice efficiency, recognize where your medical practice could improve, and implement the following five tips to improve efficiency.

Why is Practice Efficiency Important?

Medical practice efficiency is critical to physicians, patients, and a business’s well-being.

  • Physicians: Practice efficiency is a key driver for both physician burnout and professional fulfillment. An efficient practice leads physicians to feel happier and more purpose-driven at work, while also improving their sense of self-worth and self-efficacy.
  • Patients: Practice efficiency can empower physicians to deliver an unprecedented quality of patient care—when the office runs smoothly, patients notice. Without chaos and pressing timelines, doctors can spend more quality time with patients, attend to their needs, and address their concerns.
  • Business: Practice efficiency is one of the ways to increase medical practice revenue and boost staff morale. Practices that don’t consider efficiency have overheads that take up 60 percent of revenue costs where efficient practices only pay 35 percent towards their overhead. Staff morale increases with more seamless processes that promote healthier work-life balances. With higher quality care comes greater patient satisfaction, and ultimately, improved customer retention and loyalty.

Physician Burnout & Practice Efficiency

High levels of stress lead to physician burnout and increase the probability of poor patient care, which, in turn, hinders business. The human element of healthcare lies in the hands of physicians. To deliver the highest value of care, these hands must be in good health. When a professional is depleted, what kind of patient care can they provide?

In this Medscape survey of 15,000 physicians, 42 percent reported burnout, 33 percent of these physicians that suffer say they are easily exasperated, 32 percent report less engagement, and active listening, and 29 percent admit to being less friendly with patients. When working under the condition of physician burnout, professionals cannot function to their potential. Although practice efficiency is essential, it’s not easily achieved, and many medical practices struggle for a variety of reasons.

Why is your practice struggling with practice efficiency?

If you’re struggling with an inefficient medical practice, you’re not alone. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, 25 percent of specialists fall behind in their appointment schedules daily, 79 percent fall behind because patient visits last longer than expected, and 66 percent fall back because patients are late and don’t have time to fill out paperwork. Although there are various reasons in which practices fall behind and into inefficiency, consider the following factors that could be stunting productivity at your practice.

  • Outdated technology: Is your practice still manually completing the majority of administrative tasks? Switching from manual to an automated system can not only save time but an estimated $9.4 billion a year for medical health plans and providers. If your technology is old, it could be hurting your practice more than helping by slowing down your process.
  • Administrative responsibilities know no boundaries: If your staff isn’t utilized in the right way, according to their job title, your practice could suffer from inefficiency. Is your team overwhelmed by administrative tasks that stop them from completing their primary responsibilities? Is your staff using the skills for which they were uniquely trained? 59 percent of professionals who report physician burnout attribute their condition to an overwhelming amount of bureaucratic tasks.
  • No performance management: Is your practice’s work environment so out-of-control that you have no time to track performance? Lack of awareness of what causes dips and drops in your business will result in repeated, unwelcome surprises that stunt efficiency. Without tracking costs, collections, and workflows, how can you reach revenue goals?

These are only a few areas in which your practice efficiency may be slowed—but regardless of where you’re struggling, consider implementing these tips to ensure practice efficiency that can improve physician, patient, and business well-being.

5 Tips to Improve Practice Efficiency

  1. Latest technology: Ensure the system or software you choose is up-to-date and will continually update—if your technology is old, it could serve as a hindrance by slowing down administrative tasks.
  2. Administrative team: Consider hiring a team, purchasing software, finding a third-party service, or any other resource dedicated solely to managing administrative tasks. For example, the medical billing and collection practice is a job in itself—is your practice adequately equipped to execute this process efficiently?
  3. Performance management: Participate in preventative care for your practice. Just like early-detection is vital to patient health, acknowledging and anticipating challenges your business is key to increasing practice efficiency. Look for dips in productivity and profitability and address them before they happen again.
  4. Morning meeting: Morning meetings are another way to take preventative care of your practice and improve communication among the entire team. Take fifteen minutes to cover the daily outlook by addressing key questions— what challenges might your team encounter today? How can you solve them? What does the schedule look like for today? Were appointments canceled or rescheduled? How might this affect the entire team? What other information could benefit the staff in striving for practice efficiency?
  5. Proper scheduling: 47 percent of physicians claim that they fall behind because appointments are booked in small windows and 31 percent say appointments are overbooked. Open the lines of communication between physicians and administrative staff—do your scheduling guidelines need to change?

Practice efficiency is rooted in both physician and patient well-being—strive to improve these experiences with streamlined, up-to-date systems. Although some research recommends improving physician resiliency to address physician burnout, ClearGage advises an organizational adjustment to ease the burden on staff and patients.

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