If you learn from all the books, journals, speakers, and conferences about productivity improvement, you'd eventually come to the conclusion that improving the throughput of your clinic comes down to some good old-fashioned common sense, mixed with some current technology for fine-tuning. We agree. Much of the information for the clinic administrator to review does have the correct flavor of productivity improvement; but what we will do here is present a quick "executive review" article rather than an in-depth discussion on any particular point.
With the advent of affordable technology and software, even the smallest ophthalmic clinic can invest in the basic automated tools that can monitor the scheduling, billing, and revenue processes. Following and recording these events as they occur are no longer luxuries for any clinic. Realistically, it is a basic requirement if a clinic is to succeed within the parameters set by today's health care system. Cost reduction, revenue analysis, patient throughput, coding measurement, and productivity improvement are not tasks to be performed once a year.
For a clinic to grow and survive, these must occur as integral components of day-to-day operations.
Cross-train your clinic's front-end staff to perform all identified basic functions. The key word is identified. Many clinics simply haven't had the time to sit down and create a list of processes and responsibilities that front-end staff must adequately perform. These could (and should) include answering telephones, collecting cash and co-payments from patients, and directing patients to other functions within the clinic. More important from the patient's viewpoint, the staff must be able to answer typical questions about common eye problems. We are not talking about medical triage; but staff must know the difference, for example, between laser in situ keratomileusis and photorefractive keratectomy.
Collectively, the processes that you, the administrator, assemble as the...