It’s no secret that managing a busy practice is a challenging job. The stresses of daily operation are compounded by knowing that people’s well-being, personal information, and trust are all resting in your hands. In fact, 69 percent of all healthcare employees report feeling stress—the highest stress levels of all industries. Minimizing stress where you can is more impactful than you may think and can have a significant domino effect.
A stress-free environment makes for happier staff and a more enjoyable workplace. This in turn improves the patient experience as well as the patient-provider relationship, and when your patients are happy, positive patient reviews result, boosting your practice SEO.
Here are 3 of the top stressors found in today’s practice environments and suggestions on reducing, or even eliminating them:
Stressor #1: Conflicting Understanding of Roles. In any busy office, you’re bound to have staff who want to pitch in and help, and staff who get quickly overwhelmed. Whether it’s paperwork or tests, filing or insurance issues, there are always tasks to be done and a time-frame to do them in.
Solution: Make sure that each staff member has a clearly identified job description to avoid the “I didn’t know that was my job” defense. If you’re going to cross-train employees, be certain to update their job descriptions with their new responsibilities. Consider using appointment reminder software instead of asking staff to spend time making reminder calls to patients. When there is a clear understanding of roles, you can simplify procedures and minimize stress on your whole team.
Stressor #2: System Inefficiencies. The copier is in the back of the office. The check-in desk is set next to billing. The phone system is insufficient for the needs of your growing office. Inefficiencies create stress and can cause patients to become frustrated and even look elsewhere for care.
Solution: Making the needs of your staff clear to the physician is a crucial part of managing an office and improving efficiency. The cost of creating a more efficient office is far less than the cost of replacing and retraining staff or of replacing patients who have chosen to take their care elsewhere. Map out a better flow for your office, make purchase recommendations for equipment, supplies, or additional staff by showing the savings to the bottom line of keeping staff and patients you already have. Identify the goals you have for your office and your staff, and relate any changes or additions in equipment or staffing to those goals.
Stressor #3: Workload Overload. With so much to do and only so many hours in the work day, it’s easy for even the best offices to become overloaded. This causes employee burnout, which can translate into reduced customer service, a drop in patient retention, and an impact on the practice bottom line.
Solution: Advances in technology can be an excellent investment for your practice. Technology such as patient portals can streamline the paperwork in your practice by allowing you to send and receive insurance information, paperwork, test results, and x-rays through a HIPAA-secure system, eliminating many phone calls and postage stamps. When you create a more efficient system, you can worry less about the busy work of your office and focus more on creating a positive patient experience that results in higher rates of retention and more patient referrals.
Stress reduction is a worthy and important goal in any practice. Taking a few simple steps can have an immediate impact on those things that act as the greatest sources of stress in your office. With a close look at your efficiency and developing clear goals for your practice, you can significantly reduce the level of stress you, your staff, and your patients experience.
Want more tips for reducing inefficiencies and stress in your office? Check out our free white paper.
Oldie but goodie! This post was originally published in July 2016 and updated in April 2018 as part of an on-going series highlighting popular past posts.