Tips for optimizing your independent practice workflow

As you focus on providing the highest quality care for your patients, you will also need to ensure that your independent practice is running efficiently. It’s a good idea to review your practice workflow, both in terms of your physical operations as well as your technology use, on a regular basis. Here are some tips for optimizing your independent practice workflow, to help ensure your continued success.

Workflow can affect the quality of patient care, the quality of communications within your practice and with your patients, and even the potential for burnout among clinical staff. The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) emphasizes that an efficiently managed workflow can be the difference in maximizing office efficiencies and improving care coordination with electronic health records (EHRs). 

The ONC sites the lack of appropriate workflow planning as one of the biggest reasons for avoidable losses in productivity as well as for the need for extended workdays for you and your clinical staff. Some helpful tips for optimizing your independent practice workflow include:

Develop a plan. The ONC’s Workflow Process Mapping for Electronic Health Record (EHR) Implementation, provided by the National Learning Consortium (NLC), states that developing a process map, which is a visual depiction of the process, helps to clarify the workflow. That can also help identify potential bottlenecks and outline dependencies.

Consult with your EHR vendor. Some vendors, such as Elation Health, will work with you to review your clinical workflow, to ensure that it is efficient and appropriate for your independent practice. Training your staff on the proper use of the technology, as well as the most logical flow of tasks, will help ensure that your workflow is optimized for your practice.

Review administrative tasks. Do your team members coordinate in terms of patient communication, scheduling, and billing? Review your administrative workflow for duplication of effort and appropriate use of the EHR technology. Reducing bottlenecks and improving the flow can ease the burden on your staff and help reduce the potential for frustration and burnout. Streamline the process, for the benefit of your staff and your patients.

Optimize your communications. Inefficient communication flows can waste time and can have an impact on your patients’ safety and well-being. Use the available technology to set alerts, for example, rather than having to continuously check for messages. HIPAA-compliant communication methods, including secure texts and emails, can also help you to optimize your independent practice’s workflow. Integrating your communications efforts with scheduling and billing platforms can also increase your team’s efficiency across the practice.

Review the physical flow of your practice site. As patients move from the front door of your office through to the exam room, the laboratory, and to check out, are they backtracking or duplicating encounters with clinical staff? A few extra steps may not seem significant for a single patient, but the efforts throughout the day can compound. An efficient workflow for the physical layout of your practice can also help improve your team’s physical and mental health and well-being.