Strategies for Medical Practice Efficiencies

December 30th, 2008

After a recent review of some of the new medical technology devices for 2009, I was impressed with how technology continues to drive and pave the way for efficiency in medical practice management. The new devices range from in house rapid laboratory analyzers to bio-waste concentrators to handheld ultrasound equipment. It is hard for some physicians to see these tools working in their practice when they are struggling with issues such as staffing, morale and meeting the demands of a busy practice.

In today’s economy and low insurance reimbursement rates, it is difficult for most practices to hire and pay for more staff. If you are one of the many physicians who are delicately balancing your payroll with incoming income, hiring more staff is not a consideration. Conversely, if you are able to meet a higher payroll, the risk of staff turnover and inconsistencies in job performance exist. One option to consider meeting the demands on your medical practice is to incorporate the use of a virtual medical receptionist.

A virtual medical receptionist can be an effective part in running your practice and redirecting the focus of office staff to hands on patient care. By loading software on an office computer, the virtual receptionist can begin working without any orientation or training and is maintenance free. You will no longer have to worry about staff turnover in this position or the occasional late starts with opening the practice in the morning or after lunch. Other benefits to having a virtual receptionist include:

- Ability to make appointment reminder calls which decreases patient no-show rates. How do no-show or late-show appointments affect your practice revenue and inconvenience imposed on other patients?

- Handle multiple calls simultaneously without long patient hold times. How often do your patients complain that they call the office and get put on hold for long periods of time or get incorrectly transferred?

- Free medical staff to perform common functions such as bringing patients back to the examination room, taking vital signs, drawing laboratory samples, and focusing on overall patient flow. Imagine having your office staff available to focus entirely on direct patient care delivery.

- Increase staff morale by allowing them to focus directly on patients and not the phones. Does your staff occasionally comment that they have not had time to match laboratory test results up with charts or order necessary supplies because they had a busy “phone” day?

- Decrease overall practice overhead associated with providing benefits to staff that can include paid days off, bonuses, and medical benefits. How do additional compensatory staff benefits affect your ability to keep your practice afloat?

You have the ability to slowly incorporate other medical management efficiencies into your practice by changing the way that the medical receptionist position in your office is staffed. Until this change occurs, it may be a challenge to bring new technologic devices into your practice unless you either hire more staff or incorporate a virtual medical receptionist.

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