Susan Keane Baker, a speaker on patient relations and service quality, has put together some very good resources on her website.
I was particularly struck by her “Five Ways to Satisfy Patients in Less Time”. The key strategy for physicians for their future is to increase revenue per hour. Your ability to maximize the value of physician face time will make the time more efficient for both you and your patient. I’ve had to ask a physician to slow down – they were speaking rapidly, and I’m feeling rushed. Then I see them taking their time writing a note in the chart. As I’ve written here before, the place to speed up the process is in preparing for the visit.
The five ways:
1. Find out about your patient´s needs first. It may not be the most clinically significant issue, but finding out what your patient considers a priority is important. You´ll save time because your patient can be a better listener after his concerns have been addressed. And you may avoid the all-too-common request to re-start the visit when the patient forgets to introduce his concern but then recalls it as he is walking out the door.
2. Help patients create relationships with your support staff. Do you have patients whose mantra seems to be, "I´ll only talk with the doctor?" Perhaps its because they haven´t created a relationship with anyone else in your organization. A few no-cost, no-time tips to begin building those relationships: Everyone should wear a name tag at chest or collar level. You and your staff should refer to one another by name, so that patients begin to learn names. "See our receptionist to book an appointment in six weeks" should be replaced with "Julie Baron, our receptionist, will be happy to schedule your next appointment in about six weeks." Encourage staff to use some of your relationship-building techniques.
3. Minimize interruptions. Those "Now, where were we?" conversations always result in longer visits. Consider reserving ten minutes of each hour for telephone calls that require interruption. As your regular interrupters become accustomed to your practice, they will begin to call you, or return your phone call, during your "call time." Think psychiatrists.
4. Be prepared. The time to find out that you don´t have the patient´s lab test results is not during the visit. Have a system to review the record ahead of time so that missing information can be obtained prior to the patient´s visit. A report tracking system makes this quick and easy to do. If the test is important enough for you to order it, it´s important enough to track it.
5. Put it in writing. For your patients who read, putting the simplest of instructions in writing enhances the likelihood that they will follow through on your advice. And you and your staff will save time spent on post-visit telephone calls, e.g. "What did Dr. Moore tell my husband he was supposed to do?"
[Copied with permission of the author: Susan K. Baker – Speaker on Patient Satisfaction and Handling Patient Complaints ]
In previous posts, I have suggested that you place clipboards in the reception area with an easy to use form for patients to write out their questions and issues they want to discuss with you. Secondly, in addition to the actual prescription, you should have a different form for you to write out instructions. Better yet, for common issues, you should have preprinted instructions and advice, as well as patient education materials. I have a sample “Ask the doctor” form that I’d be happy to email to you, and which you can print and use in your practice. Just shoot me an email at : email@example.com. I’d also welcome copies of any forms that you all use for this purpose, and I’ll post them later for all to share.