Even with the adoption of electronic health record (EHR) technologies, many physicians still spend almost 50 percent of their days doing paperwork and only 27 percent of their time seeing patients, as reported by Annals of Internal Medicine. Without a streamlined workflow, medical practices cannot optimally perform everyday operations. When that results in staff members making mistakes on a regular basis, the outcome will be frustrated staff members, physician burnout and longer wait times for patients.
This is why it is essential to regularly assess the order and efficiency of the office’s workflow, which sets the standard for high productivity at your practice. The smoother the workflow, the less chance there is for unsatisfied patients and frustrated staff.
As you examine your practice’s workflow, it is valuable to engage the entire staff and listen to their feedback. Your staff can speak to day-to-day office details that you might not be aware of. Plus, gathering their suggestions gives them a voice in the eventual workflow changes, which will lead to improved participation in future operations.
Some questions you might ask your manager and staff include:
- Does our practice follow a schedule and set tasks?
- Do our current staff members’ capabilities align with the practice’s needs?
- Are there ongoing training opportunities for new technologies and equipment?
- What are the main communication concerns?
- Are tasks being repeated?
After working through these questions, you will want to pay special attention to several key elements as you develop new standards for optimization.
Documentation and Coding
One of the most time-consuming processes in a practice’s workflow is recording a patient’s services and treatment. Accurate coding is a major contributing factor to insurance reimbursement. If you are using an outdated paper system for documentation and coding, utilizing EHR can reduce costs and lead to more accurate patient records. EHR can also help your staff meet coding standards for compliance purposes, and stay on track during billing cycles. By simplifying the payment process for both patients and insurers, an efficient documentation and coding process will support an increase in profitability over time.
Focus on Follow-Up
Though tedious, it is important to verify that every patient visit for the day has been billed. Entering and filing claims on a consistent basis will lead to increased cash flow, and it will ensure that insurance companies do not reject a claim due to untimely filing.
In addition to reviewing office visits, your practice should develop a system for following up on rejected claims. According to a report by Med-Ops, 30 percent of rejected claims are never refiled. This statistic underscores the need for a workflow process that includes follow-up. To maximize cash flow, designate a staff member to follow up on insurance claims and uncollected patient payments.
Enhancing the efficiency of your practice workflow will ultimately allow your staff members to complete more work in less time, creating a good working standard for optimal performance. In time, developing workflow policies for documentation, coding, billing and collections will boost profitability, saving time and resources that can be applied to other revenue-producing activities.
Do you questions on improving your medical practice’s workflow standards for greater productivity? Please contact Kevin E. Reynolds, Health Care Industry Leader at 561-953-1443.