Assessing Options for Increasing Physician Practice Productivity

Physician productivity is a focus across all medical practices. There are a hundred different things that physicians can do with extra time and we know doctors aren’t sitting in their exam rooms thinking “I wish I had less time”. Inefficiency is inevitable to some degree, but when physician inefficiencies are causing unsustainable long hours, the loss of patients to other practices, and noticeable impacts on your practice’s revenue, it’s time to make a change. Unfortunately, many practices are resorting to “quick fixes” that end up causing more problems than they solve.  Below are some of the common inefficiencies, and a good solution for increasing physician practice productivity in your practice.

Delegating Tasks is Not Automating

Physicians can do paperwork, but staff cannot conduct examinations. This obvious difference leads to a productivity-boosting phrase that is sometimes overlooked… “My time is limited, and I need your help”. This leads physicians to transition as much of their work as possible to staff while still maintaining the necessary balance of work for both. This quick-fix will only help relieve some of the pressure from your physicians in the short term. In the long term, delegating tasks will put significant pressure on your staff which will cause bottlenecks in your practice. It should come as no surprise that shifting one person’s work to another person does not actually reduce the amount of work in your practice. Medical practices that do this find their staff under significant pressure to complete double the workload with no permanent solution in sight. This cycle will inevitably lead to errors, stressed employees, and unsatisfied patients.  

There is growing evidence that in smaller practices, the use of EHRs and delegating associated tasks can actually hinder productivity. The better option would be to automate tasks so that the work is eliminated instead of transferred. Instead of manually managing document routing and patient intake, you can use software to greatly reduce the work hours required per task. Instead of manually prescribing medications, you can use e-prescribing to reduce paperwork and automatically input prescriptions into EHRs. Shifting work is a temporary solution to your permanent business problem of a heavy workload.

With the right technology in place, medical practices can automate these tasks to regain work hours for their exhausted physicians.

Transcription Services are No Longer Your Best Option

Electronic health record systems are some of the most common productivity killers for physicians. Physicians must choose between using exam time to type away at a computer while their patient feels neglected or giving attention to their patients but having to spend hours after work entering patient info. Some physicians tackle this problem with transcription services. The benefit is that transcription services are fast and they free up some time for physicians. The trade-off is that the information transcribed is not always accurate, and physicians don’t have as much control over the process. If a practice is using digital transcription, it is easy for these programs to misinterpret medical terms for strings of common words.

Having a scribe is even worse. If you thought your patient was uncomfortable sharing personal information with a doctor typing into a computer, try adding a random stranger into the room. This lack of trust may result in the patient not sharing important health information, and this will inevitably lead to worse patient care. Your physicians may currently be working long hours, but hiring a scribe to reduce workload will end up costing more than what you planned for.

The better option would be to use speech-to-text on a mobile device that connects directly to the physician’s EHR notes, so they are in control of accuracy and placement in their own EHR system. These audio notes would also automate their placement process so you wouldn’t have to pay somebody to run your own system.

Using an EHR Mobile App

EHRs soak up physician time and attention because they are generally difficult to operate while having a conversation with a patient. This results in the physician having to choose whether to focus on the patient or enter information into the EHR. EHR mobile apps, like iScribe, are an easy way to bridge that communication gap by allowing physicians to talk with their patients while recording information intuitively on their tablet or smartphone. EHR mobile apps have natural ways to auto-fill information, record notes with past suggestions, and use gestures and swipes to easily navigate your connected EHR while physicians have a genuine conversation with patients.

If you want your practice to see more patients, reduce documentation efforts, and improve the quality of care given, try iScribe now and see our mobile solution in action.

Recent & Related