A common misconception amongst the medical community is that the success of medical practice is solely dependent on the competence of its physicians. While the worthiness of the physicians is the most significant contributing factor to the positive growth of an entity, office design and engineering play a role as well by determining how efficiently these physicians can perform their tasks. Running an office that is not optimally set up can be frustrating. Such a workspace creates administrative work that eats into clinical hours and turns physicians into unwilling administrators.
Here are some things to keep in mind when modifying the physical structure and workflow processes to help practitioners be their best in their area of expertise:
- Physical Form Defines Function – The way an organization is physically structured determines the flow of work. If possible, having a central hub from where all the traffic can be regulated is an excellent option as it helps avoid miscommunication, confusion and, therefore, redundancies in work. On the other hand, in some unique scenarios setting up semi-autonomous sub-units may also work well as such a model may help reduce the number of additional authorizations and subsequent paperwork.
- Optimize The Provider – Hiring medical assistants and nurses to help with non-medical activities like searching for medical records, looking for vital signs, and keeping the physician abreast at all times can help save time. Physicians can use this time to engage with patients directly and use their clinical expertise to provide better care.
- Avoid Having Unutilized Office Space – An efficient medical office utilizes every yard of available space. Take care of ensuring that staff is seated in such a way that their work will not consistently pull them away from their desks.
- Focus On Office Optimization – Since the primary goal of a medical office is patient care, all ancillary operations like coding, billing, and referrals can be relocated to another location. Such a move will help you design the available space more efficiently, keeping the patient in mind. Setting up positive distractions that aim to reduce the anxiety of patients waiting in the lobby or examination rooms is one example of what can be done to revamp the office space.
- Invest In Technology That Facilitates Smoother Operations – An ideal IT infrastructure for a medical facility is one that improves the operational efficiency instead of burdening already strained staff. Invest in technology that can help you create a calm office atmosphere where processes run smoothly, and patients feel comfortable and respected.
- Hire The Right Staff– Processes can only be successful if the right people are running them. Make sure you carefully select those who are team players, energetic and have integrity in addition to being competent. Invest in training, mentoring, and educating your staff constantly to maintain high levels of expertise at all times.
- Manage Patient Expectations – Engaging disconcerted or dissatisfied patients to take their suggestions, assistance, cooperation, and support can help zero-in on improvement areas as well as improve patient retention rates.
- Avoid Focusing On Titles – Giving too much importance to titles can be detrimental as it can cause egos to inflate. Create a work environment where each employee acts as his or her own team lead and takes ownership of their work.
- Keep Improving Year On Year – Following the “Toyota Method” that advocates focusing on 20% improvement every year can help create a positive change. Excellence can be achieved over time following this principle.
Operational engineering is just as valuable to medical offices as it is to any other business. By continually finding ways to improve processes, staff competencies, and infrastructural elements, one can work towards achieving excellence, a state that most practitioners yearn and strive to reach.
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