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

Touch Messages Once

Whenever possible, have messages go directly to the person who should handle them, rather than having them all funneled through you. Fewer handoffs is a key principle in quality improvement, so your goal should be to have fewer people touching each message and minimize the number that you as the physician must handle.

Likewise, you should aim to touch each of your messages only once. Read it, take action (which may involve delegating it), and then move on to the next task.

Some portal systems can be set up to automatically direct messages to designated people based on the type of message (appointment scheduling, refills, patient questions, etc.), while other systems allow the patient to decide who receives the message. If you don't have control over what lands in your inbox, you may need to enlist your nurse or MA to go through your messages first and handle what they can, leaving only those messages that require your attention.

"The barriers and solutions are going to be personal because we are all programmed differently."

Also, make sure you aren't trying to handle things in messages that should be handled as office visits, such as communicating certain types of test results.