Seven Habits for Reducing Work After Clinic

Sumana Reddy, MD; FAAFP, Peter Rippey, MD, CAQSM; Arnold Cuenca, DO, CAQSM, FAAFP; Sumi Sexton, MD; Troy Fiesinger, MD, FAAFP; Kenneth G. Adler, MD, MMM; Brandi White


Fam Pract Manag. 2019;26(3):10-16. 

In This Article

Make Every Second Count

The time you have with patients in the exam room is short, so you have to make the most of every second. Using effective communication skills, such as building rapport quickly and not interrupting, can help the visit stay on track. Additionally, working with patients to set an agenda for the visit can help you avoid being derailed or blindsided late in the visit. Your front-desk staff can gather the initial list of concerns from patients using a form they fill out ahead of the visit, and your MAs can help patients prioritize the list and reinforce the message that not everything can be handled in a single visit. When you enter the exam room, you can then quickly clarify what the patient hopes to accomplish today and negotiate as needed.

You also need to make the most of your time between visits. These moments may seem insignificant, but how you spend them can reduce the amount of work waiting for you at the end of the day. For example, if the next exam room isn't ready and you have a spare five minutes, find a task you can knock out quickly. Finish charting, complete a prescription refill request that requires your attention, answer a message, sign off on an order, etc. While you're in the medical record, see if there are any other refills or tasks that can be done quickly, as this could save you time down the road.

Teach your team to do this as well. It's about squeezing tasks into those little moments, instead of batching them for later.

(For more information on these topics, see "Strategies and resources.")