A successful medical practice is a living creature, which must be expected to adapt to patient needs as they evolve. For established medical practitioners, this can be difficult, particularly if your location or office space no longer serves your needs. So, before the New Year officially envelops us all, let’s take some time to consider what you can do to help your practice effectively transition to the patients of 2020.
1. Practice Self Care
Physician burnout is a real thing, and it can happen at any point in your career. The American Academy of Family Physicians states that burnout affects around 1 in 3 physicians at any given time and represents a legitimate threat to the health of the practice and the quality of patient care. Given its all-encompassing effects, the potential for burnout should be your first consideration for a successful medical practice.
The AAFP suggests that the first step to relieving the symptoms of burnout is to streamline your day. The best way to streamline is to fully embrace your EHR (Electronic Health Record). It can feel like a waste of time for many practitioners. However, if you learn to use it effectively, it can be used to automate a lot of processes that you would normally perform manually.
In addition to realizing the potential of your EHR, you should limit yourself to documenting only the necessary data. Good physicians have incredible attention to detail. It can be tempting to put as much data as possible into your notes. Instead, Dr. Dike Drummond writes, physicians should focus on fitting the data into three necessary categories: “billing, medicolegal, and continuity.” There will be some exceptions, but once you begin thinking categorically, you can use language more effectively.
2. Evaluate Your Office Space
It is a given that population densities and demographics change over time along with the technology that is required by a modern medical practice. At the start of this year, re-evaluate the location and orientation of your office space.
The American Medical Association’s Journal of Ethics reveals that medical spending can vary up to 250% based on geographic location alone. The initial article is intended to demonstrate the inefficiency of the current American health system. The unintended consequence is that it also argues for the importance of location to a successful medical practice.
If your target population has moved due to gentrification or rezoning, then your practice should also move if you are expecting continued growth. In a city with extreme wealth disparity, such as Los Angeles, a previously successful practice may not survive a major flux. Fortunately, Boulevard Medical Properties specializes in finding ideal office spaces in Los Angeles. This makes the transition much easier for an already busy physician.
3. Evaluate Workflow
Efficiency is key to a successful medical practice. It’s probably time to see if your staff is managing patients and patient records effectively. As mentioned above, you should automate wherever you can, leaving your core staff to perform their work with as little interference as possible.
Do a walkthrough of the patient experience and recording process with your staff. This helps identify redundancies and create a more direct workflow in your practice. This may also be a good time to evaluate your staff and identify any potential problems in performance or attitude. In both cases, Physician’s Practice suggests that retraining may be a better use of your time than replacing the employee.
Retraining can begin by simply identifying the cause of your employee’s dissatisfaction or confusion. If you work with the employee to fix the problem, they’re more likely to appreciate your involvement and concern. In the meantime, you also avoid a laborious and costly hiring and training process.
4. Check for Quality
As with any office, there are plenty of things that a physician may not see while they’re busy with patients. To ensure the quality of the entire patient experience, look into adding a survey to your automated systems. Although you should certainly be prepared to adjust for bias in your survey results, they will help you to identify patterns in patient care. This could lead to effective changes in your practice.
If you notice patient engagement in your surveys is low, consider doing a monthly or annual raffle as an incentive for participants. You may even consider making it part of a local event. This would simultaneously allow you to integrate yourself into the community, an added bonus.
Regardless of where you find your practice at the beginning of this year, it’s a perfect time to re-think where you are and where you would like to be at the end of this year.