A terrific way to see how your practice is running on a regular day is to “piggyback ride on a patient visit”. Once you gain the patient’s permission to follow them through their appointment, be sure to observe the people, process, and technology at each stage of the visit.
Here are some examples of checkpoints during a patient visit:
- Scheduling – Observe how appointments are made and how registration data is collected; focus on common pain points like insurance eligibility.
- Patient Check In – Notice what paperwork is completed and how insurance is updated. Pay attention to bottlenecks, wait times, copay collections and clinical handoffs.
- Clinical Workflows – Determine what clinical data is preloaded, how a patient is roomed, and what clinical information is collected and recorded. Understand how charges, tests, and referrals are entered and observe the medication and refill process. Report any disruptions or obstacles the staff encounters and take time to observe clinical administrative tasks like phone notes and lab results.
- Patient Check Out – How are patients given instructions for follow up? Do patients have portal access, a chance to give feedback, and how is the visit closed? Remember to get an idea of how the patient appears to perceive their visit. Watch the interactions during the hand-off from clinical to check out to identify areas for improvement.
- Billing – Go to the billing department and follow the revenue cycle stream, from posting to claim filing, patient statements, collections and payment posting. Investigate how charges are communicated to the billing staff.
The final result will reveal a magnitude of opportunities for process improvement and optimization. From this seemingly small perspective you can change processes that will affect the big picture. So go ahead and piggyback a visit…who knows what you’ll learn!