Beating Burnout: How Doctors Can Regain Control

Leigh Page


October 12, 2016

In This Article

Other Ways to Improve Workflow

The AMA's STEPS Forward website[8] details a variety of ways to re-engineer your practice. For example, previsit planning can cut down on tasks during the visit. The preregistration module[9]on the program's website shows how to set up and carry out previsit planning.

For instance, your office can arrange to get lab work completed before the visit, so that the results can be discussed during the patient's appointment. Lab results are an opportunity for "motivational interviewing," which involves helping patients set goals for improving their health by developing an action plan, according to a Minnesota doctor cited in the Joy in Practice study.

The new patient visit involves capturing a great deal of information, much of which can be done before the visit. You can designate someone on your staff—perhaps a front office person—to be the new patient coordinator (NPC), according to the STEPS Forward argot. The NPC calls the patient before the visit and checks on medications, allergies, and other information from the medical history and enters any changes into the EHR, reducing data-entry work at the visit.

Another doctor interviewed in the study explained how his practice saved time by renewing medications for stable patients for a full year at the annual comprehensive care visit, instead of every 30 or 90 days. The practice prescribes a 3-month supply with four refills, which covers the patient until the next annual visit.

Workflow can also be improved by changing the space of the practice. Creating shared workstations for people who work closely together, such as physicians and their MAs, for example, makes it easier for them to complete tasks, Dr Sinsky says. "You can remove a lot of wasted time in workflows by the way the physical space is constructed." That said, it might make sense to hire someone experienced in medical office design to maximize your existing space.

Look, too, for potential bottlenecks in workflow. If you find that many patients are waiting for an exam room, consider adding another room—one of a few recommended changes that would require significant spending, especially if you hire a design firm to help guide you. But that sort of expertise could represent money well spent.


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