EHR can improve efficiency.

4 ways to make your orthopedic practice more efficient

While they are connected, providing care for patients and managing the day-to-day operations of a clinic require different skills. Even talented physicians can falter when it comes to dealing with logistics. However, proper administration is vital to the long-term success of any healthcare organization, and wasted resources can quickly lead to insolvency. Here are four ways that a practice can increase its efficiency. 

Delegate effectively
Doctors have limited time. While it is possible for them to also handle the everyday administration and billing duties, it is ultimately not the best method for leveraging their unique expertise. Instead, it makes significantly more sense, in terms of both time and resources, to have an employee with logistical experience handle these tasks. It is inefficient to centralize every part of the care process, as doing so spreads the physician thin and wastes efforts that could better be spent on patients. Jay Nussbaum, CEO of Healthcare Watchdog, a medical billing and advocacy group, explained the importance of proper delegation to Becker Spine Review, saying, "the trick is to make sure you're delegating to the right people. The policy of forcing everything to run through a central authority makes the company stagnate because it just isn't efficient. The doctor needs to learn to delegate both internally and externally. The doctor should be focused on medicine."

Consider specialization
It can be effective – and lucrative – to have a number of physicians in a practice with narrow specialties, rather than simply generalists. When surgeons focus on one particular area of orthopedics, such as athroscopy, they are able to quickly develop a familiarity with the procedures required. The set-up and support teams required will be the same every time, meaning that many parts of the process can be automated and done more efficiently. As well, one of the readiest ways to attract new patients is to be able to offer a level of service that they can't find elsewhere: Having doctors that intimately know a narrow field can provide that unique expertise. 

Don't forget training
Orthopedics is constantly changing, and advancements are frequently made both in how patients are treated and how clinics are administrated. This means that there really is no such thing as downtime – seasons that are less busy than others are ideal opportunities to enroll employees in training courses that allow them to develop new skills or refine the ones that they already have. The better a staff is trained, the more efficient it will be. In addition, employee training has been linked to retention and engagement.

"Employee development and education is critical. Whether by providing training for new skills or tuition reimbursement for outside courses, furthering your employees' education can help them feel valued, important and invested in the company," Dan Pickett, CEO of Nfrastructure, told CIO magazine

Employees don't necessarily have to be sent to outside courses to get the benefits of better education. In-house cross training can also be an effective use of otherwise free time. Donna Lahey, administrator of the Spine Institute of Arizona, explained to Becker Spine Review how she used this sort of training to build a more robust staff. During some downtime in her calendar, she taught a front desk clerk how to seek authorizations from insurers, and a file clerk how to mail out billing statements. Not only did this increase the skillset of those employees, it also freed up time elsewhere. The billing staff wound up with more time to manage denied claims, giving everybody a little more breathing room and keeping them from piling up. Lahey noted that every person in the organization felt more "on top of things" as a result. 

Move to orthopedic EMR software
Installing and running orthopedic EMR software requires an upfront investment, in terms of both financial expenditure and training. However, it is well worth it. In the long run, it increase efficiency at a practice, and give physicians more time to spend with patients, actually providing care. This, in turn, leads to happier patients who are likelier to give better satisfaction scores, making EMR software financially valuable as well. Automated systems also improve the accuracy of billing and coding, allowing clinics to receive the highest possible reimbursements and patients to get the most accurate possible bills. 

The more effectively a practice can handle administrative tasks, the more time it will have to provide care to patients. A doctor that is not overburdened with paperwork has the time to be more attentive, and no organization wants to consistently deal with financial troubles. Thus, making logistics more efficient improves the entire facility.