3 Mistakes Clinics Make

#1: Communication with clinic staff

We have encountered many clinics that do not set aside any time to communicate problems and to celebrate their successes. Clinics often fall into the trap of feeding into the ‘rumour mill’. The result is not a consistent and reliable form of communication. How do you fix this? Even though meetings eat into appointment time, schedule regular staff meetings. Solo practices should regularly check in with their employees and have a chat about operations. Make sure there is an agenda distributed several days beforehand. Take minutes and document action items. Make sure to follow-up on those action items at the next meeting. Minutes should be distributed to all staff in order to communicate what transpired during those meeting to keep everyone in the loop. Similarly, minutes from physician meetings should be shortened to inform employees on decisions applicable to them.

Patient Communication

Firstly, staff can often fail to communicate effectively about patient care. Stress the importance to the employees of documentation in the EMR to avoid confusion when the patient calls back.

Secondly, the style and method of communicating patient orders to staff can also be problematic. Physicians should consistently use the EMR messaging or tasking tool. Eliminate verbal orders to avoid errors and potential breaches in confidentiality. Hallway conversations are a “no go”.

Encourage staff to really listen and convey empathy when speaking with patients, despite how busy they are. The policy of “no news is good news” is no longer sufficient. In accordance with College policies (in some provinces), clinics must notifying patients and the referring physician’s office of the status of the referral and how long they can expect to be in the queue. Introduce an add-on program to your EMR such as Ocean by CognisantMD.

Finally, make sure the clinic is communicating with patients efficiently. If you have a website, ensure you have all your policies available to patients. This helps to ensure patients are fully informed regarding your referral process, prescription repeats, policies, etc. Having a robust website with enough valuable content will help decrease phone calls regarding repetitive requests for information.

#2: Complacency in medical clinics

Clinics get comfortable and are so busy with patient care they don’t see the importance of investing time into operational improvements. We often visit clinics that are conducting tasks that had become redundant year ago.

What can your clinic do to improve?

Conduct lean exercises which are valuable tools for any business to incorporate. In order to conducct lean exercises, look at processes or workflow and break it down to ensure all the steps that are taken make sense and are necessary. Systemic Healthcare can help you with this.

Once in a while, medical clinics can overlook succession planning for key personnel and physicians. It is imperative to have a plan for those that are nearing retirement.

Changes in healthcare technology

Advances in healthcare technology are accelerating rapidly. Be aware of these advancements and introduce them at the right time to not put your clinic at risk. Most importantly, keep abreast of artificial intelligence in healthcare, news on providing virtual care and ensuring the clinic’s firewalls are robust enough to prevent a ransomware attack. Our Digital Needs Checklist for Existing Clinics can help you identify your vulnerabilities by making sure you keep an eye on tech. Invest in solutions to improve the delivery of care, save staff time and protect your patient data.

Another key point, vague policies surrounding missed appointments and inconsistently charging for uninsured services can allow thousands of dollars to slip through the cracks. Basically, policies are valuable, however without following a procedure that applies to that policy consistently affects the efficient delivery of healthcare. We have been able to help clinics capture from between 15 – 58% more uninsured billing revenue. Are you consistently charging for uninsured services? Systemic Healthcare services offers consultation advice on your OHIP billing practices to ensure you are billing optimally and following up on your remittance advice.

#3: Human Resource Blunders

Employee Performance Problems

Address performance issues during probationary periods. Address performance issues as they happen. Choose a private setting to talk. Understand the issue and use diplomacy and clear language when you outline your expectations. Repeat if it happens again and consult with an employment lawyer on next steps. Don’t forget to document these discussions.

Clinics with more than 4 or 5 physicians can benefit from strong administrative leadership to manage and coach employees. Generally, medical clinics that choose not to hire a clinic manager and do it themselves typically encounter operational problems.

Employing the wrong people in the wrong positions. Do not place employees that are unable to express empathy as first contact with patients. Overall, consider reallocating them to billing functions or other administrative tasks.

Employee Recognition Strategies

Reward and recognize your staff for their dedication and contribution. They need to feel part of the team and need to feel appreciated. Above all, staff need to feel they have a voice and that their opinions count. Give them an opportunity, and allow them to come up with some reasonable solutions.

Adequate Staff Training in Medical Clinics

Clinics typically do not invest enough time and money into training. Generally, investing three additional hours of training on your EMR for employees and physicians can create many efficiencies. Wait a few months after everyone is comfortable with the EMR before introducing a second wave of training. Medical Clinics should maximize the use of all the tools available at their fingertips. Set your medical staff up for success.

In conclusion, be aware of these issues and act on them. Position your clinic to succeed now, and well into the future. Not sure how to proceed or don’t have enough time? Reach out to our team for advice and guidance on how to effectively manage your medical practice.