More Patients, More Revenue, but Less Rush. How?

Gail Garfinkel Weiss, MSW

Disclosures

May 17, 2012

In This Article

Introduction

Physicians who are seeking ways to become more profitable often look for new revenue sources, ancillary services, or a new marketing campaign. But often the answer -- or at least a portion of the answer -- lies within themselves.

One effective tactic is to become more productive. But that word can be a turnoff because many doctors picture increased productivity as running from patient to patient, spending less time with each one, and racing through paperwork. That's not it at all.

Productivity means doing everything you need to do during a patient visit, but without wasted steps that add nothing, without having anyone duplicate anyone else's work, and taking a logical sequence of actions that doesn't add unnecessary steps. It means using staff effectively so that your work is as streamlined and efficient as possible. It's the understanding that every action during a patient visit should be meaningful and nonduplicative, rather than done from habit or on a "catch-as-catch-can" basis.

With the right kind of leadership, a willingness to delegate, and a determination to do things differently, physicians can enhance clinical flow, focus more on patient care, and even shorten their workweek while seeing the same number of patients.

Practice management consultant Judy Capko, author of Secrets of the Best-Run Practices, says "Physicians are the rainmakers, so the more productive they are (ie, the more patients they see), the more revenue they will bring in. Their productivity will also heighten staff efficiency, as long as they have the skills to motivate staff and hold the troops accountable."

Not a Factory Process

Boosting productivity will not turn your practice into a hectic "patient mill," if you do it right. The push for speed does not need to compromise customer satisfaction, says Patrick T. Buckley of PB Healthcare Business Solutions in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. "When services are more efficient, the patient's time is smartly used, patients are able to more intelligently interact with the clinician, and clinicians can better focus on achieving effective outcomes."

Here's what better productivity will do:

  • Patients are able to see the physicians at a prescribed time;

  • Patients do not repeat their information after they check in; and

  • Patients can ask their questions, receive answers, and learn to better manage their care without feeling rushed.

Read on for suggestions from Capko, Buckley, and veteran physicians on how to boost your practice's productivity without creating a hectic pace.

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