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How to improve primary care efficiency and quality

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Providing quality patient care and running an efficient primary care practice are not necessarily­ contradictory ideas. In fact, an inefficient operation can lead to miscommunications, waste, and errors, so working on improving both the quality of care and the efficiency of the practice can actually help the primary care provider as well as the patients!

Communication is a key component of both care quality and practice efficiency. The primary care physician who communicates clearly and regularly with staff, other providers, and with patients will be able to run a streamlined practice that also provides the level of care those patients need. Electronic communication channels enable patients to follow up with questions or clarifications, reducing the potential for misunderstandings and potentially dangerous situations.

Coordinating with other providers through electronic health records (EHRs) is an effective way to provide quality care for patients while ensuring that time is not wasted on multiple calls and faxes. Paperwork can slow the process of gathering medical information from specialty providers, labs, and healthcare facilities. EHRs give the primary care provider and others the access to a patient’s medical data they need when they need it.

Beth G. Hodges, MD, writing in Family Practice Management, noted that she also engaged her nurses to help more with patients when she found that she need to optimize her primary care practice. Nurses are able to administer certain basic tests and they typically get to know patients well enough to answer questions or prepare the physician for the visit.

Dr. Hodges also suggested offering patients scheduling options that meet their needs. This could mean something as easy to implement as online scheduling or it could mean adjusting the practice’s hours to accommodate patients who are not as easily able to keep daytime appointments. Canceled and rescheduled appointments cost the practice money and may result in delayed treatment the patient needs.

Quality care and practice efficiency can go hand in hand in a primary care practice. Elation Health’s Clinical First EHR can be part of the solution!