Healthcare efficiency is a critical factor in increasing care effectiveness, patient satisfaction rates, health outcomes, and health spending. According to efficiency analyses, approximately 20 to 40% of all healthcare organizational resources go to waste, accounting for $760 to $935 billion in wasted healthcare spending in the United States alone. Reducing this wasted health expenditure with an improved healthcare team and technical efficiency can improve your practice’s care value, efficacy, and effectiveness.
At Weave, we provide comprehensive software for streamlining how healthcare services operate. Our end-to-end healthcare system allows you to manage everything from payment collection and appointment scheduling to provider communication and electronic health records (EHRs). Below, we discuss tips for improving efficiency in your healthcare organization, whether it be primary care, emergency medicine, sports medicine, dental, or anything else.
Why Efficiency in Health Care Is Important
Healthcare system efficiency impacts many aspects of the patient experience, organization-wide performance, and public health. Efficiency is important because it affects the following:
- Healthcare expenditures: Healthcare research on health economics shows that the healthcare industry wastes hundreds of billions yearly due to technical inefficiencies in service delivery and internal operations. These wasted funds could go toward necessary health affairs, like providing more affordable access to healthcare providers.
- Communication: Modern patients see multiple doctors and specialists. For example, someone may seek out specialty healthcare workers for neurology-related problems. Because of this fragmentation, communication in an efficient health system has become necessary for providing consistent and accurate care.
- Patient care: The World Health Organization and U.S. National Guideline Clearinghouse consistently release new health services research and health policy guidelines surrounding optimal care techniques. These constant updates, combined with fragmented providers, make delivering successful patient care nearly impossible without an efficient system that can handle it. Improving healthcare system efficiency can help you stay on top of health records and best practices.
- Public health access: Health care is not available, accessible, or affordable to all due to many factors relating to health economics. Economic research shows that poor organization-wide efficiency results in wasted resources, creating higher wait times and costs on the patient’s end. Improved efficiency can reduce wasted spending, making health care more accessible and improving population health.
Starting With Your Staff
Improving efficiency in your office boils down to two things: team productivity and internal technical processes. How your staff operates and how your computer keeps up will ultimately determine how efficiently your practice runs.
Starting with your staff, you can implement several tactics to boost productivity and reduce wasted time. Communication and training are the key aspects of improving staff productivity. Equipping your team with the knowledge needed to complete their jobs as efficiently and effectively as possible can result in streamlined day-to-day efforts.
Communications With Front Desk and Clinical Staff Members
Your front desk and clinical staff members share equally important roles in the patient journey, so aligning the two can reduce wasted time and confusion. For example, say someone calls your front desk with a health concern, hoping to speak with their doctor or a nurse. How does your front desk respond to this?
- Do they immediately route the phone call to the nursing staff?
- Do they leave notes, and if so, does your nursing staff know how to check for them?
- Do they attempt to answer the question themself?
The right answer for this example depends on your exact organization. The key here is that you should have a set communication strategy so both teams can collaborate at any time.
Morning huddles are the perfect opportunity to get your entire team on the same page. In 24-hour facilities, like hospitals, you can use morning huddles to transfer patient assignments and discuss any necessary details that may be confusing on the working paper. For example, one nurse could inform another that a specific patient will need their next medication dosage in 15 minutes to avoid potential delays.
Morning huddles also offer great advantages in non-24-hour settings as well. In typical day-to-day offices, your team can meet before opening to discuss any questions or concerns to prevent slow-downs once patients start coming in.
For example, a front desk staff member might inform a doctor that one of their patients left a message late last night about a new health concern. Now, the doctor would have time to consider this new health concern in relation to the patient’s existing conditions before they even arrive. This information could offer improved care insights and more efficient treatment.
Staff Training in All Expanded Duties
Occasionally, the culprit behind lackluster efficiency is a lack of adequate staff training. Offices may hire seasoned employees with prior experience, assuming they don’t need to train them on organization-specific duties, but this can create future confusion. For example, a doctor with 20 years of experience may not know how the filing system works at your practice.
Sometimes organizations offer excellent training upfront but fail to continue providing this level of education each year. Because best practices and technology change so frequently, you must consistently keep up with training your existing team on new ways to improve.
Teaching team members skills beyond their standard duties can also streamline how your office runs. For example, if one staff member calls out sick unexpectedly, another should be able to easily fill their role without causing delays. Staff training in all expanded duties might include the following items:
- State laws
- Office policies
- Job-specific training
- Goal-oriented training
- Expanded duty education
- Regular employee evaluations
- New technology training
Reducing Patient Wait Time
Shorter wait times can improve satisfaction rates, reflect well on your organization, and help bring more patients in the door, improving accessibility. Try the following tips for reducing wait times:
- Virtual check-ins: Gather information from patients online before their appointment; this might include their insurance, health background, and more, so your staff can enter the data before the patients arrive.
- Digital forms: Use digital forms to automate data entry and speed up your system’s operation.
- Organized scheduling: Offer patients online self-scheduling tools to choose available dates; this leaves your front-desk staff can focus on more complex matters.
- Patient-provider portals: Use advanced portals for comprehensive access to health records, exam results, messaging, communication, scheduling, payments, and more.
- Digital workflow processes: Keep your team aligned with integrated EHR platforms that automatically sync and transfer patient data.
- No-show policies: Create standard policies surrounding no-shows and late patients to reduce wait times for people that did arrive on time.
- Surveys: Collect feedback after appointments to discover key improvement areas.
- Mobile queues: Offer live mobile queuing so patients can see their wait time, rather than asking your front desk staff.
- Telemedicine: Offer virtual visits to improve efficiency on both ends. According to clinical research, rural patients can save 142 minutes on average with virtual urgent care visits and as much as $200 in gas and family care. A related article discovered that patients with virtual providers had 19% fewer emergency room visits and 16% less duplicated care compared to those with in-person providers, displaying how virtual care offers efficiency gains to your office and the surrounding system as a whole.
Healthcare Office Tools and Resources
How can you implement the above tips in your organization? Start by examining your current tools and resources. Advanced healthcare tech can transform how your office runs.
Replacing your basic phone system with an advanced automated solution directs patients to the right person who can adequately serve their needs. Interactive voice response systems (IVRs) can also provide helpful tips to patients that encourage them to self-serve online for simple tasks, potentially preventing unnecessary calls. Research shows that IVRs may improve immunization rates, cancer screenings, and appointment attendance rates with improved education as the patient waits on hold.
At Weave, our intelligent phone solution allows you to view caller information before answering, customize phone experiences, and analyze call data.
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Automating Appointment Reminders and Confirmations
Late or missed appointments back up your staff and reduce efficiency. Calling patients to confirm appointments takes time and can feel unnecessary. Streamlining the process with automatic appointment reminder texts and phone calls can improve attendance rates and remind patients to cancel appointments they cannot attend, ultimately freeing up your staff.
At Weave, our platform includes simple appointment reminders and confirmations. We integrate appointment reminders within our advanced scheduling system for optimal alignment and convenience so patients can adjust their times or dates at any point.
Streamlining Billing and Payments
Medical billing is extraordinarily complex, involving insurers, claims, codes, filing, and more. Manually fulfilling a single payment requires many steps and time. Luckily, modern software automates this work, improving claim accuracy, reducing denials, and boosting fulfillment rates.
At Weave, our platform includes payment processing, financing, flat-rate pricing, and text-to-pay features, making payments easier for your patients, team, and business.
With Weave, you can enjoy automated scheduling, appointment reminders, streamlined payments, reviews, digital forms, insurance verifications, customized phone systems, and more, all in a single intelligent platform.
Call us at Weave today at (866) 308-2039 or schedule a demo to see how Weave can work to increase efficiency in your healthcare practice.