Have you or fellow doctors been struggling lately with an increasing workload at your practice? Even though you’re already busy, you may need to do something about it soon. A recent survey shows that nearly 2/3 of physicians feel overworked across all practice types, compared to when they first started.
Being overworked, having a poor work-life balance, sensing that patients aren’t receiving enough time or quality care, can all lead to job dissatisfaction and possibly seeking work elsewhere or even quitting the medical field. Here are some ways your practice can do better and address this problem.
Cut down on paperwork
If you’ve ever felt that your job is becoming more about attending to paperwork than patients, you’re not alone. Twenty-two percent of physicians surveyed spent at least one hour each day filling out papers and digital documents. How many patients could you have seen in that time, or how much more focus and attention could your other patients have received?
Record-keeping is important, but shouldn’t consume so much time that would otherwise be devoted to your patients. Like many other businesses, a medical practice has time-consuming processes which can be handled by other professionals. Accountancy services for GPs, for instance, can lend their expertise to a vital aspect of business that doesn’t need to be handled directly by you or your staff.
Manage patients efficiently
Occasionally you’ll have to deal with patients who come into the consultation with a never-ending list of health concerns. Within a limited timeframe, it’s impossible to sufficiently address each of these issues. At the opposite end of the spectrum are patients who come in with a cold or sore throat, expecting to be given a prescription for antibiotics, then leave.
People can all respond differently to your usual approach in consultation. If you can recognize potentially difficult patients and adjust accordingly, you can cut to the core issues without wasting time, avoid unnecessary intervention and repeat visits by educating them on the right steps for self-management.
While administrative tasks can be outsourced or automated, core medical work must be handled by qualified professionals. If the size of this workload is becoming difficult to manage, delegating some work to your clinical staff will lighten your burden.
It’s essential to delegate properly. While nurses can manage a lot of work, they shouldn’t be taking on the workload of a doctor – this merely passes along the problem to someone else and doesn’t solve inefficiency. Choose tasks that your staff can handle quickly, and consider re-investing funds into the practice to recruit and hire allied health professionals, such as pharmacists, whose expertise will let them quickly handle specific assignments.
Improve workflow efficiency
Even doctors aren’t immune to procrastination or poor time management. For example, dealing with non-critical emails and schedule management shouldn’t be a constant distraction throughout the day. Set aside time to sort this through at the end of the day and streamline your workflow.
Medical software solutions are not yet universally adopted, but can boost efficiency with automated organization and collaboration features. Doctors who tend to work remotely or travel between appointments can continue to give and receive input on cases. Try deploying a system that fits your practice’s most urgent needs and you can benefit considerably from the increased staff productivity and processing speed.
With many doctors feeling the burden of a heavy workload and struggling to maintain a high level of quality care, it’s critical that your practice finds the right combination of solutions to this problem – taking care of your physicians may also be the best way to improve patient care.