4 tips to tackle cold and flu season

Cold and flu season can make for a lot of extra work for practices, but by planning ahead, your office can take care of patients' seasonal needs more efficiently and with less stress.

A recent article from Medical Economics offered the following suggestions:

  1. Analyze what happened last year. Use your office's past experiences--including glitches and breakthroughs--to fine-tune your process going forward, recommended Owen Dahl, a medical practice management consultant in The Woodlands, Texas.

  2. Offer extra work to staff who want it. The time involved in billing for all of the vaccinations a practice may give during a flu clinic could pose a burden on an office's full-time nonclinical staff. To avoid this problem, Candy Le'Oso, practice administrator at Drs. Borders & Associates PSC, in Lexington, Kentucky, typically offers the project to a part-time employee interested in picking up extra hours.

  3. Try block scheduling. For practices that get extremely busy during cold and flu season, Dahl recommended a block scheduling system, in which a practice might schedule all sick visits for between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. 

  4. Spread the word. Use whatever channels work best with your patient population (e.g., social media, updates to your website or fliers in your reception area) to remind them that you'll use a block scheduling format, extending office hours, or expanding staff to accommodate all of their seasonal needs. If patients don't know you are prepared, he added, they may turn to retail clinics when they feel ill, under the misconception that getting care there will be faster and easier.

To learn more:
- read the article