With declining reimbursement and rising costs, efficiency is more important than ever for allergy practices. College Practice Management Committee members offer these top tips for improving efficiency. You’ll find even more tips in the College’s newly updated Practice Profitability toolkit!
1. Add remote patient check-in and self-scheduling options.
Patients are more comfortable with – and have come to expect – digital patient engagement tools, including patient self-scheduling capabilities for appointments, digital payments, online pre-service check-in and post-visit payment plan options. Give patients the ability to complete forms (nonclinical and clinical) online, log insurance information and pay their copay when checking in remotely. For more information about digital patient engagement tools, read MGMA’s article.
2. Automate, automate, automate.
Review front desk and clinical staff workflow, and automate as much as possible. Automated appointment reminders, insurance verification, online bill pay and patient scheduling will all save your staff time and energy.
3. Card scanner check in for shot room.
Some practice management and/or electronic health record software can use bar code scanners for shot patient check-in. This keeps your shot nurse focused on efficiently giving shots and not manually checking in patients. Scott McCutcheon, MHA, Practice Management Committee member, said, “We have been using bar codes for our patients receiving allergen immunotherapy injections for several years. It not only improves efficiency but also accuracy and therefore safety.”
4. Use a patient portal.
A portal can improve efficiency for your practice and patients. When new patients complete their demographic information, list of medications and past medical, social and environmental histories online, the information is imported into your electronic health record to speed up check-in and triage. Patients may also use the portal to request prescription refills and communicate with clinical staff, which cuts down time spent on patient phone calls.
5. Implement a credit card on file policy.
A credit card on file system will shorten time in accounts receivable, reduce administrative expenses and capture lost revenue. Inform patients they will need to bring a credit card and that it will be preauthorized for an amount equal to the estimated out-of-pocket cost. Once the insurance remittance has been received detailing the patient responsibility portion, the card is processed for that outstanding balance amount. No need for statements. For step-by-step instructions on implementing a credit card on file policy, check out our “Credit Card on File” educational module, which is part of the Allergy Office Essentials package.
6. Schedule biologic injections/infusions.
Schedule potential bottlenecks such as Omalizumab and other biologic injections. This helps to keep patient wait time to a minimum and allows clinical staff to better plan their clinic.
7. Offer same-day or next-day appointments to patients.
Improve patient access by offering same-day or next-day appointments, especially during pollen season or peak cold/flu season. Benefits are numerous: improved patient satisfaction, more new patients and reduced no-shows. Learn how to successfully implement this in our article Same day appointments: A winning strategy.
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8. Standardize exam rooms.
Create a clinical team (allergist, nurse, medical assistant) to recommend “standard” supplies that should be part of each exam room. Organize all cabinets and drawers in each exam room so they’re identical. When an allergist or nurse is looking for a tool or supply item, they will know exactly where to find it, regardless of the exam room. That saves time for everyone.
9. Create a restocking system.
This ensures every exam room is fully stocked at the beginning of each day – eliminating the need to stop in the middle of an exam or test to search for a missing item. One simple and effective option is a Kanban inventory system.
10. Consider using scribes.
Allergists who use scribes cite multiple benefits, including the ability to spend more time with patients, improved documentation, and bringing joy back to their allergy practice. Using a scribe may enable you to see more patients, which can pay for the cost of a scribe – or even increase profits. Learn more in the College’s article Do scribes make sense for allergists? and in the free AMA STEPS Forward™ module on team documentation.
There is no one magical solution that will improve efficiency. It comes through a series of small steps, but when combined they can result in giant leaps in efficiency. For more efficiency and cost-saving ideas, check out the College’s newly updated Practice Profitability Toolkit.