It can be a shock to discover how much time is taken up by day-to-day administrative and business tasks in independent practice.
While few doctors have experience of running a business, the most successful independent practitioners I know are those who draw on the time management skills they learned early in their professional career. By identifying ways to work smarter and making the most of the latest practice management technology, they have been able to ‘steal back’ time to focus on patients and developing their practice.
In my experience, every practice has time-consuming tasks that could be managed more effectively, often by making better use of technology. Here are five of the most common administrative ‘bottlenecks’ to address:
1. Correspondence – Medical secretaries tell me they can spend up to 75% of their time typing, printing and dispatching letters to keep patients and their GPs informed about appointments, investigations and treatments. This process can be streamlined by using letter templates for common subjects which can be completed with the relevant patient details. Healthcode’s ePractice software also allows you to select and batch print multiple documents at a time.
2. Checking patient insurance cover – Practices regularly have to call around hospitals or insurance companies to confirm a patient’s insurance details but this can be a time consuming - and sometimes frustrating - exercise. Healthcode’s online membership enquiry feature enables users to instantly check patients’ insurance policy numbers and address details against the insurers’ database.
3. Billing – Electronic billing can save you £2.15 per invoice by eliminating printing, postage and manpower costs. Creating and submitting bills to PMIs online takes a fraction of the time, improves accuracy and ensures the invoice is validated against the relevant insurer rules so it is ready for processing and payment. Plus, you have the reassurance of knowing that the invoice has been received by the PMI.
4. Payment tracking – When payments arrive, every practice needs a system to record exactly what invoices are being paid and identify shortfalls. This can be time-consuming with a manual system and in some cases, practices have been obliged to write-off outstanding debts because payments have not been reconciled against the correct invoice. Healthcode’s payment tracking tools will help you save time and money.
5. Financial reports – Without access to accurate information it is impossible to steer your business effectively. However, manual book keeping and accounting systems require expertise and time to prepare even basic reports such as an Aged debtor analysis. Your practice management systems should provide a range of real-time financial reports, so you can measure your performance, analyse your strengths and weaknesses and make informed decisions.