Does that seem like a strange question? Do you think that busy generally equates to productive at your practice?
If you do it may be time to rethink that.
Busyness can equate to productivity, yes, but it can also be deceptive. For example, someone can busy themselves with a task—say folding laundry—and look extremely productive, yet they may have drawn out the task twice as long as it actually should have taken to complete. And in the end they weren’t truly productive at all.
Does your practice show any signs of this deceptive busyness? Signs like:
- A full schedule but struggle to retain a consistent patient base
- Inconsistent appointment times
- Long wait times when patients show up for their appointments
- Rundown staff members
- Little or no revenue growth
- Lack of direction or reason for how patients are scheduled
- No standard practices or goals to work toward
We know it’s tempting to see a full schedule or waiting room as a sure sign of practice success, but those signs can cover up issues that are keeping your from reaching your full potential. You may have a schedule full of new patients that end up being one-time hygiene appointments. Or a lack of structure at your front desk might mean the same appointment one person schedules as a half hour another schedules for an hour—cutting productivity in half. Or, even worse, your staff might be losing motivation after feeling overworked for what feels like minimal return on their effort.
So how can you avoid falling into the trap of “being busy” and instead turn your focus onto maximizing your productivity?
By having clear and concise practice goals and standard practices for everyone to work towards and follow.
This will look different for every practice. You’ll need to take into account who your target patients are, the types of services you provide, and the capabilities of your practice team to ensure that your goals and objectives are realistic and will set you on a path of sustainable growth.
Every practice’s strategy for doing this will look a little different, but the most important step for ensuring it’s successful is having buy-in from the entire office team. Spend a few weeks meeting with staff members in groups and one on one to address pain points, areas of concern, processes they think work well and more. This will help everyone feel included and valued in the building of attainable practice goals. Yes, it will require some time and resources set aside up front but will pay off dividends well into the future.
A few topics to cover while creating a practice strategy can include:
- Appointment scheduling best practices (length of time, supplies needed, time of day, etc.)
- Front desk phone call protocol
- Reviewing patient care guidelines and the type of patient experience you want to create
- Patient information filing (including bill payment)
- Product ordering procedures
- Exam room turnover process
Once you have your practice plan in place you can use it to guide all aspects of your day to day working going forward. This will help eliminate conflicting practices (i.e. keeping a full schedule but not focusing on scheduling appointments that help maximize revenue) and ensure everyone is on the same page with how to reach practice goals and maintain excellent patient care in the name of productivity and not busyness.