Is Your Practice Suffering from “Double Work?”

More than likely, you have a system set up in your private practice to make sure things run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. Maybe you’re proud of your system: Appointments are scheduled, paperwork is transferred, and patients are cared for. But a system that works doesn’t necessarily mean your private practice is operating at maximum efficiency. In fact, many private healthcare practices suffer hidden setbacks in revenue and scalability from one major flaw in their system: Double work.

Double work is administrative work that you may be repeating twice–without even knowing it. Think of an admin staff who schedules an appointment with a patient, then calls to confirm the appointment. The patient doesn’t answer the call, and the admin leaves a message. A few hours later, the patient calls back to confirm the appointment. You may not realize it, but that long, drawn-out process constitutes double work. The entire process could have taken place in a two-second text message exchange–but instead created an administrative burden requiring two phone calls, the task of following up, and a voice message.

Ultimately, double work comes at an extremely high cost to your practice. It costs your administrative staff additional time. It costs you the expense of paying your staff for unnecessary hours. And it costs your practice the ability to grow and expand. Here’s how to recognize–and fix-this time- and cost-sucker:

Falling Into the Trap of Double Work

Double work is often “hidden” by relying on an old, outdated system to complete administrative tasks. For example, private practices have used the telephone for decades to confirm or potentially cancel appointments. The system works just fine. No double work happening here!

The reality is, making multiple phone calls is double work. In 2019, we have technology to communicate basic information (such as appointment scheduling) instantaneously.

What are some other tell-tale signs of double work?

  • Your administrative staff spends an exceptional amount of time on basic tasks.
  • Communicating with your patients about simple information often includes multiple touchpoints.
  • There’s frequent confusion about paperwork, insurance, and billing–resulting in a heavier administrative burden.
  • You feel overwhelmed by the administrative aspect of running a private practice.

You may not know it, but the above situations are symptomatic of double work–a common but fixable issue.

Types of Double Work

Do you suspect that you might be falling susceptible to double work, but you’re not quite sure where to pinpoint it?

Here are a few types of double work that could be affecting your private practice:

Managing Paper Intake Forms

If you still rely on paper intake forms, then you’re most likely performing quite a bit of double work to administer, collect, store, and communicate this critical, private information.

First, simply printing out and mailing the forms poses an unnecessary administrative task. If you store information from paper forms electronically, you’ll need to scan and upload the digitized forms into your system. And if you file paperwork, your administrative staff will need to spend time sorting and organizing information correctly.

Finally, dealing with paper forms can be a real burden from a security perspective. Your patients’ information must be kept safe from the eyes of unqualified staff and other patients, and transferred and stored correctly to meet HIPAA requirements.

All of this amounts to a heavy administrative workload that, depending on the size of your practice, could require several staff members to handle.

Making Phone Calls 

As described above, making phone calls to confirm and potentially cancel appointments can cost practices unnecessary time and energy. If there’s a lot of back-and-forth between a patient and your practice, telephone communication can quickly consume hours of time, not to mention administrative expenses. Communicating this way can also result in frustration, miscommunication, and even missed appointments.

Communicating About Insurance and Billing

As any private practice knows, dealing with insurance and billing can become administratively exhausting. Complicated processes for billing claims, sending bills to patients, and fielding questions about payment can quickly suck up time and energy–and cost you in efficiency.

How to Fix Double Work

Here’s how to put an end to double work in your private practice–freeing up time and resources to focus on providing better care, increasing revenue, and expanding your patient clientele.

Use Electronic Forms

Many private practices may be reluctant to switch to electronic medical records, as the change does pose a significant amount of time and effort to ensure all existing information is transferred correctly to an electronic system.

But if you haven’t made the switch yet to EMR (electronic medical records), then you’ll find that this shift could be a total game-changer for your practice–and significantly reduce double work associated with paper forms.

EMR allows you to send, receive, access, and store electronic forms–including intake forms–electronically. Your patients can fill out forms right from their laptop or desktop computers (or smartphones). You receive the forms instantaneously, and are able to store them on an easy-to-access database. Plus, electronic records are less likely to contain errors, and are more comprehensive (containing a patient’s full medical history) than paper forms.

Ultimately, electronic forms eliminate the need to mail, file, scan, and store forms…and significantly improve communication and efficiency.

Text Appointment Reminders

Making the switch to text messaging might seem unnecessary and even complicated to implement. Your patients and staff will have to adjust. A new system will have to be installed. Why not just rely on the old, steadfast system of phone calls?

The reality is, text messaging will dramatically reduce time, energy, and effort your staff spends on communication. Rather than make multiple phone calls to confirm upcoming appointments, staff can set automated text messages to be sent to all incoming patients–freeing them up to work on other tasks.

Use a Patient Portal 

Finally, a patient portal can help you cut down on double work by providing a single access point for patients and providers to look up critical information.

A patient portal might include:

  • A patient’s basic contact information
  • A patient’s payment methods
  • Appointment notes
  • Required follow-up 
  • And more

Having instant, easy access to this information from a laptop or mobile phone can simplify administrative work for both patients and providers…and reduce unnecessary communication.

Perhaps most importantly, a patient portal includes a messaging system where patients and providers can ask and answer questions and share notes and updates–eliminating unnecessary, third party communication with administrative staff.

Free Download: “How Efficient is Your Office Administration?” Worksheet

IntakeQ: A Streamlined Solution for Double Work

IntakeQ is a comprehensive digital platform that can help you eliminate costly, wasteful double work with the following capabilities:

  • Electronic intake forms. Safely transfer all forms via internet and store and access them on a cloud database.
  • Text messaging. Use text messaging to send appointment reminders.
  • Online booking widget. Patients can also book their next appointment easily on your website, without making a time-consuming phone call (and wasting your staff members’ time and energy).
  • Streamlined insurance billing. Billing claims is united with additional processes, creating a single system for increased accuracy and ease of use.
  • Patient portal and messaging system. Patients can access their online profile and message their providers. Plus, providers have instant access to vital patient information from a laptop or phone.

At the end of the day, taking steps to cut down on double work is well worth the time and effort of every private healthcare practice. By streamlining systems and processes, you’ll be able to focus more on providing high quality care to patients, innovating new health solutions, and expanding your healthcare practice.

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