All too often, protocols in a medical practice—and frankly, most businesses—evolve by accident. A person decides something should be done a certain way, everyone follows suit and it becomes standard operating procedure based on a rationale of “we have always done it that way.” However, it is better to intentionally assess your processes and develop systems that can be used as guidelines for meeting your practice’s goals.
Here are six ways to create efficient and effective office protocols with a minimum of effort:
- Plan Continually
No matter how carefully you plan for every eventuality, surprises will happen in the form of emergencies, staff no-shows or other issues. Nevertheless, planning — not only how you want your practice to run, but how you envision a typical day running — can make your office life more predictable and stable. Furthermore, with changes in medicine and technology, processes that make sense today may not be the best approach tomorrow. You should regularly review the protocols that you have in place to see if changes in the way business is conducted dictate changes in these protocols.
- Communicate with Staff
A plan that comes from only one person probably will not work. Listen to your staff — they are in the trenches and will likely have good ideas on how to keep things running smoothly. This can also help with staff retention, as giving people input into how they do their jobs can make them feel more empowered and connected to their organizations.
- Keep the Focus on Your Patients
Every procedure or business goal should have the patient at the center. Evaluate to determine why any procedures are being performed in a way that prevents or detracts from the highest level of patient care.
- Be a Leader
Examples of leadership are set at the top. Staff will follow your lead. If you are distracted and disorganized, the confusion will be transmitted down the organizational chart.
- Make Sure to Prioritize
Focus on the things that give you the most satisfaction and that only you can do. If you want to increase revenue, the obvious way is to work more hours and see more patients. But, this can lead to burnout. Delegate the things you can delegate, and give people you have delegated the authority to do their jobs without them feeling like you are constantly looking over their shoulders.
- Establish Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)
A good way to create efficiencies is to develop SOPs — written protocols or checklists for you and your staff regarding tasks that need to be done in particular situations. These will not fit in every case, but they are a place to start and can be useful. For example, your practice may offer ancillary services or dispense durable medical equipment. However, many physicians and staff fail to mention these services, but creating SOPs to manage them can create unexpected dividends.
Making a plan for how you want your practice to run and taking steps to implement it can help you ensure that your protocols are well thought out, rather than random and confused.