8 Ways To Get Your Time Back
A Guide to Reclaiming Lost Time Through Practice Efficiency
Time is the most valuable of all commodities, and for you as a DC, this is no exception. No one can make more of it, and every moment that passes can never be reclaimed. Therefore, it’s imperative to do what you can not to waste it, in this regard the chiropractic practice faces many challenges. Some are obvious, but some stay hidden – eating away at profits and taking away the time of both staff and doctors that could be so much better spent elsewhere. The problem with hidden challenges is that they linger, unaddressed and capable of multiplying—-much like an unaddressed health issue.
The truth is, chiropractic as a profession can lead to a life of balance inside and outside of the practice. Inside, where you spend more time on healing patients than dealing with documentation and regulatory compliance. Where lives can change without drugs or surgery more often because time is properly focused on patient care rather than on practice processes. And outside, where you have more time to spend with friends and family, enjoying recreation and the pursuit of hobbies that bring fulfillment and balance to a life dedicated to serving others.
The other truth is that too many practices simply don’t operate efficiently enough to help a chiropractor realize the inside/outside balance described above. Contributing to the problem? Chiropractors go to school to learn how to heal the human body with their hands, not perfect practice management efficiencies.
The good news? Practice efficiency can lead to an incredible profits, one that brings balance, and it doesn’t need to be rocket science. With the exact same building blocks, a provider can build a marginally successful practice through inefficient and unrefined processes, or build a wildly profitable practice that maximizes both time and life balance by maximizing every ounce of efficiency; from patient parking to checkout, and everywhere in between.
So what’s the key difference between the two? Integration. An integrated practice leverages technology in a way that automates tasks in a way that modular, disparate processes simply cannot.
The first step in maximizing efficiencies – and saving as much time as possible – is to know how to target processes within your practice that can be quickly and easily improved upon. Inefficiencies often follow common threads when it comes to their notable symptoms. Check your practice for the following symptoms:
*Documentation takes too long to complete and is cumbersome (hint: if you’re spending time in the evenings/weekends catching up on documentation then you know it’s a massive drain on practice efficiency – not to mention on your time/quality of life)
*Data must be entered more than once (which leads to errors that cause even more inefficiencies)
*Still using paper notes and paper-based intake (and what kind of impression does that make on your patients who live in a tech-crazed society?)
*Patient compliance is low
*Regardless of a healthy patient volume, revenue remains low
*Doctors feel rushed and overbooked with no time to handle day-to-day tasks outside of treatments
*There are many staff members with limited competency and little cross-training
*Patient referrals are minimal
*Credit cards must be manually processed
*Inventory must be manually managed
*Missed appointments are an issue
*Unpaid claims disrupt cash flow and cause staff to spend more time on paperwork—directly reducing profits
It’s time. Your time.
Efficiency and automation go hand-in-hand, and a truly efficient practice that achieves more in less time will only be reachable when you replace manual processes. This reduces time spent performing menial tasks, lowers staffing requirements, and most importantly, reduces operational costs. Significant revenue growth does not always require higher patient volumes, more time in the office, or additional staff. When it comes to increasing revenue by maximizing current resources, technology is the chiropractor’s best friend.
The right EHR can provide you with the ability to breeze through documentation, having access to all pertinent information and macros, ensuring compliance. This means less time spent documenting while the documentation improves and protects the practice when faced with audits or lawsuits.
An EHR offers scalability and can easily handle new patients and a growing practice. And without the overhead costs and space required to purchase and house file cabinets, folders, and printers (not to mention staff time spent rummaging through paper files) your dollars are not stretched so thin. As a result, patient volume becomes less critical to the bottom line.
Access and Space
Converting to a paperless practice allows staff to retrieve, store, and share documents electronically in an instant. Access paperless files anywhere within the practice, making retrieval immediate.
Scheduling can be a very time-consuming task. Checking in patients and collecting copays while simultaneously answering phone calls, searching for open appointments, and juggling an array of highlighters can bog down the day and preoccupy precious staffing resources. With EHR software on board the scheduling becomes seamless. The front desk is automatically notified of late patients, uncollected copays, treatment type, and any other identifying features.
The easier it is for patients to understand your practice and their place within it, the more efficiently the system will run. Proper signage, well-placed and available staff, patient self check-in stations, and speedy payment processing can all help clients get in and out faster, keeping your practice moving at optimal speed.
Billing and Invoicing
Billing is often the bane of a practice, requiring a great deal of time and attention. Accurate invoicing, reporting, claim filing, and status reports are a crucial aspect of a smooth-running office and a consistent revenue stream. An EHR system can quickly prepare invoices, check claims for errors, set up payment arrangements, and provide billing reports that allow you to keep a closer eye on your real-time financials.
Automated Patient Reminders
Reminder calls can eat up staff time, and leaving messages can be an unsuccessful means by which to remind patients of their upcoming appointments. This is where automation really shines. Revenue growth means not only building new business, but also mining your current client base for new opportunities. Often there is gold sitting in that bucket of monthly missed appointments. With the right practice management software, patient reminders can generate automatically and be sent out via email, text, or phone. This leaves your office staff free to focus on the patients currently in the office.
Compliance is a major player in healthcare these days, and maintaining compliance requirements set by seemingly constant new government mandates can become a frustrating and laborious process. A well-equipped EHR system can automate compliance and walk you through required processes. This leaves you free to focus on your clients, while reducing additional paperwork and minimizing the risk of an audit.
Revenue growth doesn’t always require increasing your number of staff or taking on a higher volume of clients. There are plenty of areas of the practice where efficiencies can bring down overhead and release that tied up revenue. Many manual practice processes can be automated, and that extra time can be spent investing in the human element of your practice: yourself, your staff, and your patients.
Consider how you can transform your practice if you/your staff:
*Entered data once
*Could create bullet-proof SOAP notes in mere seconds
*Improve collections and achieve a 98% approval rate on claims submissions
*Could automate patient alerts and appointment reminders
*Used an iPad® for intake and to sign in patients
*Create custom billing solutions
*Automate inventory management
*Process credit cards that drop straight to the ledger
*Utilize internal instant messaging
If you’re not taking advantage of the benefits integration and automation can bring, then there is only one question to really ask yourself: Isn’t it about time?