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How to evaluate an independent clinic

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For independent physicians, their practices are their businesses. Even though the obvious focus for the physician is the patient’s healthcare outcomes, the practice must also run efficiently and effectively in order to properly serve those patients. Evaluating the practice on a regular basis will help the independent ensure that the practice is in the right place and on the right track to success.

When evaluating an independent clinic, the physician should look at a number of factors that determine the practice’s success, both financially and in terms of its patients’ well-being.

Practice management efficiency – workflows. Does the practice have in place an efficient workflow system? An evaluation should include a close look at clinical staff, in particular as to whether they are performing appropriate jobs in the most efficient manner. What are the responsibilities of the front desk staff? Review the technology workflow as well. Does the patient have a well-laid out path from the front door to the exam room, in terms of human contact as well as the transfer of the medical record?

Financial stability. Independent physicians know their trade well and have a sincere desire to focus on patient needs. However, the practice is a business and must be financially stable to ensure its success. A review of the practice’s financial records is necessary to have a clear picture of where the practice stands. The independent physician and the appropriate practice team member can take advantage of industry resources to determine the best way to manage payer reimbursement, cash flow, payroll, and budgets.

Communication. An evaluation of the independent clinic must include a close examination of the communication processes and effectiveness, both internally and with patients. Patient engagement is critical for the independent physician. Providing a convenient and secure method of communication will help both patient and physician ensure that patients’ questions are answered promptly and accurately, contributing to improved healthcare outcomes for those patients.

Accessible patient data. Is the independent practice taking full advantage of an electronic health record (EHR) solution? An efficient system provides the patient’s medical data at the touch of a finger and offers the independent physician access to other providers’ notes on that patient, to optimize care based on a coordinated care plan. An EHR designed for practice success allows the independent physician to document visit notes, order lab tests, e-prescribe, and write referrals in any order, all from the same screen.