Making resolutions for the new year doesn’t have to be focused on personal development alone. You can also set professional goals to improve your health center in 2020. Even if you believed 2019 was a banner year, making a few minor tweaks to the way you operate your health center can yield incredible results. Don’t know where to start? Here are four suggestions to help make this year your best year yet.
Improve patient access
We live in the digital era where convenience and efficiency rule. This is no different in the healthcare field. Providing your patients with a web portal where they can schedule appointments, access their records and communicate with your office is vital in our modern society. If you already have a web portal implemented, try to find ways to make improvements to make it even easier to access and navigate. Your patients will thank you.
Train or retrain staff
Going to a health center can be quite stressful for patients, so having a well-trained, friendly staff should be at the top of your list for 2020. Your staff should be well versed in all your protocols, understand how to use the technology leveraged by your office and always be courteous to patients. If you believe you are lacking in one of these areas, provide training to make improvements. It will help deliver a better patient experience and can also reduce stress on your staff.
The revenue cycle for health centers is an ever-evolving process that can be downright complicated. Unfortunately, this means you are probably not taking advantage of your revenue potential. If you believe your revenue isn’t optimized it’s time to refocus your efforts in 2020 and make the necessary changes to reach your goals. You can make improvements in areas such as daily claim filing, payment posting, patient statement processing and even fix credentialing issues. Revenue optimization isn’t an easy task, so if your health center doesn’t have the expertise or the time, consider partnering with a reputable third-party company that can help you reach your full potential.
Set measurable goals
No matter which goals you choose to set for this year make them measurable. Creating goals that can’t be quantified makes tracking progress nearly impossible. For instance, the first suggestion involved improving patient access. You can measure how long it takes for a patient to access the web portal and schedule an appointment. Possibly one of your goals is to have a friendlier staff. Offer your patients the means to provide feedback utilizing a numerical scale to grade their experience dealing with your employees. Setting clear, measurable goals will make it easier for everyone to work toward meeting and possibly even exceeding your benchmarks.
Regardless of the goals you want to achieve this year, if you and your staff work hard at reaching them, 2020 will be a year to remember.
It’s important that we all have healthy working environments, both in the physical sense as well as the mental sense, but when it comes to the high-stress environment of health workers, keeping their work environment healthy can be crucial. Not to say it isn’t crucial in all workplaces, but when your job is to handle other patients and make sure they’re living their best life, and if you are constantly ill or have reached your burnout point, then you’re endangering more than just yourself.
To Keep a Physically Healthy Environment:
- Keep it clean. In any healthcare facility — be it hospital to walk-in clinic, it’s pretty standard to keep the floors and surfaces sanitized almost daily. Things that should also be considered are vents and air ducts, because if you’re breathing dusty air, it’s going to irritate not only the health care workers, but the patients as well. High and hard-to reach places should also be cleaned regularly, such as the top of a large shelf or behind a television.
- Do not over-crowd. It’s easy to do when you have a lot of staff working and little to no foot space, which can lead to trips and bumps or scrapes. Keep a clear walking area separate from any filing or machine storage. Also consider keeping every inch possible well-lit to avoid falls or even eye-strain.
To Keep an Emotionally/Mentally Healthy Environment:
- Practice team communication daily. Sort of like a pre-game huddle for a sports team; set your goals, ask anyone to express concerns or to give praise to anyone or previous goals that were met, and always make sure the health workers are being listened to more than talked at. Keep this kind of communication going throughout the day via computer systems, in person conversations, or handheld devices like pagers, walkie-talkies, or cell phones.
- Healthy relationships are also very important, both amongst individual coworkers as well as boss-employee relationships. If the workers don’t like the person in charge, or the person who is working alongside them, they’re going to feel more stress and this could contribute to burnout (which is when the health worker gets so overwhelmed that they just don’t care about their work anymore — it’s a work-related depression).
- Do not overwork your health workers. There needs to be an adequate amount of people to level out the work-worker ratio, if there’s too many workers, then people will get bored, which will lead to carelessness and accidents, but if the workload is too much, then the employees will rush, leading to incorrectly cared-for patients as well as hurried accidents.
Healthcare workers deserve a healthy environment just like any other worker — and really these suggestions can be applied to any service-providing job. Good luck, and stay safe!
Bedside manner isn’t just for hospitals — it has to do with the general relationship between a doctor and their patients, as well as treatment. In fact, people expect more proficient bedside manner when it comes to their primary care physicians and the offices they frequent, because they have gotten to know these doctors, and hopefully vice versa. So is there a way for these smaller offices to build upon their bedside manner? Of course! We’ve come up with a few:
This is going to be your biggest and most easily obtained way to build your bedside manner, because empathy can take as little as sixty seconds. When we say “empathy” we mean the ability to relate to another’s thoughts, feelings, and circumstances — literally, “Oh, I feel you” or “I understand you.” It goes such a long way, and is worth every moment you spend using it. It doesn’t make the appointments any longer than they “need” to be, but rather makes lasting impressions on you as a caregiver, and will bring you closer to understanding your patient as a whole. Health is more than just physical, it’s also emotional and mental, so it’s important that you can connect with them at least a little bit.
Now, that doesn’t mean be blunt without any kind of buffer or filter over what you say. While it might work with some patients, a majority would rather have a softer conversation. What we mean by transparent is tell them what they need to know, when they want to know it. Unless you truly do not know the answer to their questions (in which case, be honest and try to find the answer ASAP), keep your responses to the point, and not vague.
It’s weird to think, but a lot of people see doctors as these otherworldly beings that are just plain hard to talk to. You don’t have to reveal your whole life story, but try to make yourself relatable to the patients — this goes hand in hand with the idea of empathy. If you can find common ground that both of you can stand on, then getting them to open up will be that much easier, as well as gain their trust.
Let them take control of the conversation.
Your job is to sit and listen to what the patient has to say, and listen to their concerns as well as their complaints. You can steer the conversation in the right direction, but the more you hear from the patient, the better they’re going to feel about your decision as a physician.
Empathy is going to be your biggest and best friend when it comes to bedside manner, so remember to put yourself out there, listen, and relate! You’ll see that your patients have a higher satisfaction level, and they’ll keep coming back!
A patient can come into a health clinic for a vast and often times overwhelming amount of reasons, and as a doctor or a nurse, it can be difficult to hone in on the problem given the small time frame we have. We all know, though, how important it is to have that relationship with the patient, and how bedside manner can even affect their health. So here are some tips on how to improve patient satisfaction!
- When you enter the room, greet the patient by their name. It’s very easy to walk into the examination room and say “hello” or some other vague greeting, but once you sprinkle on that added name, it turns the patient into a whole other being: an individual, rather than a list of symptoms on a piece of paper. Names have a sort of unspoken power, and the more you use them, the more influence you will have with the patient.
- The following sentence should be your ideal greeting for new patients: “Hello [insert patient’s name here], I am [insert your name] and I do [blank].” Let the patient know who you are and what it is you do, what your area of study is, or what you’re specifically seeing them for. This is great for a patient who is seeing multiple doctors in a single visit, because it gives them a glimpse into their care and lets them know what’s going on, rather than them staring after you blankly while you start your examination or series of tests.
- Let your patients talk. Sometimes their stories might be long, but they usually have a point. Practitioners typically try to redirect the conversation after not even a minute, but if you give the patient some 60 seconds to explain themselves and their concerns; you’d be surprised at what you can gather from these stories about their lifestyle and how it might correlate.
- While you might not agree with every internet diagnosis that walks into your office, you still have to see the patient, because their symptoms are real. So hear them out, take them seriously, and don’t downplay their concerns no matter what WedMD might have told them.
- Be honest with your patients when it comes to their symptoms. Meaning, if you don’t know the answer or need to do more research, tell them. It’s better than making up an answer and leaving them more confused than before.
These are just a few ways to help keep your patient satisfaction rate high and, by extension, the staff’s satisfaction high as well! Just remember that everyone is human with human concerns and worries; your patients are there seeking your help, so let’s give it to them!
As much as we hate to admit it, we are human. We live in bodies that are going to fall ill and get injured at least once in our lifetime, because that’s just how living, mobile creatures function. It’s part of survival. We also have to take into consideration that our surroundings and working conditions can greatly impact our health, and in turn, our work ability and the quality of said work. While there are, unfortunately, companies and places that do not believe that the health of their workers is important, the truth is that it’s one of the main things holding an organization together. Here’s why it’s so imperative:
Better work quality and productivity. If an employee knows that they’re safe if they need to take a sick day gives them tons of relief and more appreciation for the job, and therefore motivates them to do better and out-perform your competitors.
Happier employees. Keeping your workers comfortable is a big “YES” in the unofficial business handbook, because that happiness will trickle into their interactions with other employees, customers, and the general public, and ultimately to reviews and suggested clients. If your employees are healthy — both mentally and physically — they will tell everyone how great it is to work there.
Lower turnover rate. Meaning your employees, if they’re happy and healthy, will want to stay where they are. Say goodbye to that dreadful hiring and training process, because mentally sound and physically stable people won’t want to leave a place with such great benefits.
Reduces healthcare costs. If you already offer healthcare plans for your employees, that puts you a step ahead! There’s more to it, though, because you need to help enforce their healthy behaviors at work as well. Try to keep healthy snacks in the break room, give everyone a step count to reach for a special goal or prize, or even give them a “fun day” or a “de-stress day” for mental health purposes — remember, both are equally important.
Employees are really what makes any health center or organization flow smoothly; without the help, you are overwhelmed and not putting out any of your work goals and needs. So treat your employees like family; their health is important!
Starting up your own medical practice is a big deal; you get to be your own boss and put those long, grueling hours of hard studying and clinicals to good use. But where do you start? Is there a wrong and a right way to do it? Where’s the money coming from? Don’t sweat it! Here’s a list of the cheapest states to start a medical practice in!
This is the most “expensive” on this entire list. Your license to practice fee is roughly $200, and the majority of the state is comprised of national parks, but that also means fewer competitors in the field.
#4. North Dakota:
Their overall cost of living is straddling the national average, and your median home will be upwards of $200,000. However, healthcare is cheap and the air quality is amazing. There are fewer doctors in North Dakota as well, which will increase your chances for more clients. Your license fee is about $200.
Michigan as a whole is relatively cheap when you compare it to the national average; housing, if not on the waterfront, is easy to come by, as is affordable as healthcare. There are, however, a larger amount of taxes. Your license to practice will cost you approximately $151.50, but you’ll have it in a month or two. The average home cost is very similar to that of Missouri – which is featured later in this list.
In the cheese state, obtaining your license will cost you no more than $75, with the average wait time is between eight (8) and twelve (12) weeks. Wisconsin rides the country average when it comes to renting and owning homes or buildings, but that’s for the state as a whole, and not individual cities. There is also a dense population, promising you a bigger client base.
You’ll find that Missouri is your go-to state for affordability; not only is your license to practice going to cost you a mere $75 with a two (2) to three (3) week waiting period, but it’s one of the cheaper states when it comes to housing. In places like St. Louis, you might find higher prices, but lesser cities will definitely show you a difference. The median home price in Missouri is $156,000.
A good thing to remember is that, the closer you get to one of the coasts, the more expensive it’s going to be. Whether it pays for itself truly depends on your neighbors, the other doctors, and competition, as well as your staff, affordability, and bedside manner. You have the chance to be great — go do it!
When you’re in the medical field, you see a vast variety of clientele walking through your practice doors. They can range from children to middle-aged adults all the way up to the elderly; and in most cases, it’s a great thing to have a wide range of individuals attracted to your health center. However, in a world run by technology, our medical practices and non-profits have no choice but to adapt to these changes if they want to keep their clients and reduce staff burn out. Most people are able to adapt along with us, but what about those who can’t? Our elderly patients might not have the time or the technological understanding to move along with the flow of things. So part of your job and your practice’s job is to help these patients keep up with their appointments and healthcare — because they’re some of the ones that need it the most. Here are some suggestions on how you can do that:
Given the elderly patient has access to the technology, show them how to navigate your Patient Portal. You might not have to show them every single detail; just enough to know where to find doctor information, appointments, and medications. More detailed material, such as test results, can be discussed in person.
Take time with your patient and have a conversation with them. The longer you spend with a patient, the more questions will be answered. Ideally, you would have in-depth, open conversations with all of your patients, but even if time is pressed, ensure extensive focus on providing key explanations to the elderly clientele.
Make follow up calls. Especially if you know the patient doesn’t have any family hanging around, make sure part of your staff follows up with them, checks on their reactions to medications, and just asks about their overall wellbeing.
Similar to the previous one: make appointment reminder phone calls in person, and not with an automated call. Technology is fantastic – and should definitely be utilized regardless of age – however, that doesn’t mean the “real life” touch should be thrown to the wayside… especially when dealing with elderly patients. Oftentimes, over the phone, patients will ask about their upcoming appointment or bring up new issues to discuss, and this could help steer the conversation the right way in the future.
The key is, when dealing with the elderly, to be exceptionally personable; take an extra minute or two with them, and see that they’re doing okay!
Today, we have an abundance of technological advantages that put people ahead. The modern generations are raised with the internet and mini computers in their hands, with access to thousands upon thousands of research and data. How many times have you seen a patient that has one issue, but worsened by something else because “the internet said they had such and such a disease?” It happens. As more and more technological advances make their way into society, it’s important to ask yourself if you and your practice are ready to adapt? Are you ready to answer questions backed by self-interpreted online research? How can you adapt? What can you do with all this new technology? There are many things, such as…
Patient portals. These are probably one of the biggest steps an office can take when adopting technology into their workspaces. These portals give the patients one-hundred percent (100%) access to their medical files the moment they are logged into the shared system. This cuts out the need for a patient to look up a symptom and make conclusions of their own, because they can e-mail the doctor directly with questions or to set up an appointment.
Telemedicine. This one is more beneficial for patients who aren’t able to get to the doctor in person. Telemedicine is when a doctor can call or video chat a patient and make evaluations, diagnoses, and offer treatments at a distance.
Shared networks. Something as simple as a prescription used to take extra time before there was a way to digitally send it to the pharmacy. Most doctors now have the ability to sit in the same room with a patient, talk about a medication, and send in a request to your chosen pharmacy in a flash. There’s no more gripping onto the piece of paper, trying to read the notorious “doctor handwriting”. Having a shared network is also easy when making referrals; they can also be done in a second, rather than burdening an administrator with phone calls that took away precious time from other patients.
Technology’s advancements don’t have to be a burden for medical professionals; utilize it to make your practice run more smoothly and efficiently!
Our nation’s physcians face many different stressors and challenges that come along with the job. It’s imperitive that you, as a physician, keep yourself from burning out, because once you do, your work suffers, and ultimately, so do the patients that you have sworn to treat and protect. The Happy MD refers to “burnout” as an overdrawn bank account, which is probably the best way to put it; you’re taking away from physical, mental, and emotional accounts that are already empty. Work takes a toll on everyone’s reserves, but when your reach the point where you’re trying to convince yourself that feeling exhausted and cynical towards your job is something all doctors feel all the time, then consider that your big red flag. After that, you’ll reach the point where you feel like you’re barely hanging on, and that the tether that holds you to the job you’re dreading going to every morning is about to snap and send you wheeling through a black hole, and that’s when you’ve gone too far; you’ve reached the burnout zone. At this point, you don’t care as much as you’d like to, or should, and you’re probably far more bitter than you thought possible. Luckily, there are “cures” — or more like coping mechanisms — for this dreaded burnout, but note that these should be applied to your life consistantly, even if you’re not feeling those symptoms.
Cure #1: Be aware. It might take some practice, but once you realize that the stressors you’re experienceing are about to create negative emotions about your job, grab ahold of them, and practice techniques that can help you protect yourself and work through those emotions on the spot. Think of this as a defense — a shield.
Cure #2: Self care. The reason you get burnt out is because your mental, physical, and emotional accounts are empty, and you’re trying to use more of something that needs a rest. There are a lot of things that can fall under this category, and it all really just depends on what you feel needs to be cared for the most in that moment. Do you need more sleep? Get it. Do you need a night to yourself, or with a loved one? Do it. Don’t be afraid to give your body, mind, and soul what it wants. Remember that boundaries are part of keeping yourself sane.
Cure #3: Change. If you find yourself unable to help yourself with Cures 1 or 2, then remove yourself from the stressor. Reduce your hours, change the way you work, find a different position or job using the same skills, but with less stress.
There is absolutely no problem with getting help for burnout, especially in the medical field, where someone’s quality of life could depend on you and your decisions. Your team will understand, because they can’t afford a burn out doctor, either. Take care of yourself first, so you can take care of others.
Doctor visits and follow ups have come a long way in a short amount of time; the invention of and the increased accessibility to the internet has created a whole new world for medical professionals and their staff. Just a short fifteen years ago, we would have to wait for a call from the office to learn what a simple blood test result was, or have to make phone calls ourselves to make a follow up appointment. While there is no harm in phone calls, the patient portal has made things eaiser for a lot of people, and is now an important part of healthcare. Here’s why:
It’s convenient. A lot of people today don’t like making phone calls, or don’t have the time to do so, and the portal has completely eliminated the need to dial a phone. Anyone with an internet or data connection has the ability to access their portal for a various amount of things. This also gives people with some handicaps, disabilities, or mental illnesses a better sense of independence, as they don’t have to go through someone else to make an appointment. Many portals give you the ability to schedule yourself an appointment with a few clicks, or just send a message to your doctor if you have a question.
Everything is right there. There was a time when you had to wait until your next appointment — or a phone call — to know the results of a test, but with the portal, you have access to the results the scond they’re logged into the system. It won’t just be the “important” bits that the doctor tells you, it’s the whole test and even the graphs. Not only do you have the ability to see the results of your tests, but you have access to all of your medical records without having to dig through a collection of papers. So long as everything has been uploaded by your doctor, it should all be in one spot for you to pull up at any given moment. Most doctors will even allow multiple members of a family to be on one account, so you could look at the same history, results, and visit summaries for your child, parent, or partner.
You have access to all of the practice’s doctors. Most patient portals will have a list of doctors with different areas of study, and oftentimes, when your doctor makes a referal, it goes through that portal and instantly contacts the referred doctor. There is also a list of which insurances will cover what you need done.
The patient portal has given people the ability to climb out of the backseat, and into the front passenger one; they get to help navigate their own healthcare, and nothing is ever left out. This brings the patients and doctors closer together, for an all-around better experience, and better quality of life for everyone.