Three fast and easy tips to enhance your practice's efficiency

New Orleans urologist and six-book author Neil Baum, MD, put the facts out plainly to a packed crowd of MGMA attendees Tuesday afternoon: Most of us individually don't have the power to fix the problems in our healthcare system. What we can do, however, is meet the challenge to see more patients within the same amount of time while preserving quality of care and patient satisfaction.

Baum presented several strategies to do just that in his session entitled, "Improving productivity, efficiency and profitability," and suggested that implementing just one of them within the next 72 hours (after which, the likelihood of action plummets) could save a practice thousands of dollars.

Here are three simple tips any practice can try today:

  • Build two blocks of 'sacred time' into your schedule. According to Baum, the time patients spend languishing in waiting and exam rooms before seeing the doctor is the No. 1 driver of dissatisfaction--topping even having to pay out-of-pocket fees. So six months ago, Baum began reserving two untouchable 15-minute slots per day for genuine last-minute urgencies. Since making the change, scarcely a day goes by that both the morning and afternoon urgent slots aren't used--and very often by new patients to the practice. With patients confident that they can see a doctor right away when they need to, Baum's no-show rate has dropped dramatically.
  • Create videos explaining common patient problems. Using a simple Flip video camera, a tripod and his computer screen turned teleprompter, Baum has created over 30 educational videos describing the symptoms, prevalence, treatment and more about the most common issues he sees in his practice, such as erectile dysfunction and urinary incontinence. Rather than spend the time day after day repeating the same information, patients typically view the videos before meeting with the doctor and discussing any further questions or concerns. Each of the videos is about 5 minutes in length, allowing Baum to see one-third more patients during a typical day.
  • Collect patients' questions for the doctor upfront. Before every visit, Baum's patients are provided with a simple card that asks, "What three questions would you like answered today?" This simple, inexpensive step allows patients to articulate their concerns before the dreaded 'doorknob' question just as the doctor is about to leave the room.