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Medical Office Staff Efficiency – A Thought Experiment

Medical Office Staff Efficiency

During our annual company retreat in beautiful Panama City Beach, we split the team up and had a pitch competition. It turned out to be a great lesson on how to improve medical office staff efficiency.

The Prompt

You are the administrator of a 10 provider medical practice who is not allowed to hire any other medical office staff, nor work at the medical office yourself. You can build any healthcare technology you want, what would your doctor’s office look like?

To start the teams mapped out the issues they know are plaguing healthcare today such as medical appointment scheduling, patient no-shows, patient access, inventory management, medication nonadherence, patient no shows, etc (the list is long). They also kept in mind the solutions that already exist such as online patient scheduling, electronic medical records, medical practice management software, etc. When thinking of these types of healthcare software, they challenged themselves to think about ways they could be improved. 

I wanted to share some of the ideas the teams came up with and the commonalities we independently arrived at.

The Craziest Idea

Tube

One team created a tube delivery device that would enable the office to deliver any inventory or drug instantly to the exam room. It was meant to satisfy patients with quick service and to create a “just-in-time” inventory system.

Commonalities

While the teams differed in their focus and pitch, there were five main commonalties that came up.

1) The All-Powerful, Diagnosing Machine

robots will be one way to enhance medical office staff efficiency in the future

Both teams came up with an all-seeing, all-knowing diagnosing machine. One team came up with a pill ingested at birth that would consistently measure vitals. Another had the idea for an implantable device. Most realistically, there was an idea for patients to receive and wear a wrist band prior to the appointment that would accomplish monitor all vitals for 72-hours leading up to the appointment. 

These tools were intriguing for three reasons. First, they expand the data available to providers prior to the appointment. That way, the doctor isn’t relying on a snapshot of a person during a 5-minute window. Second, the tool enables diagnoses before a patient knows what’s wrong. Third, it sounds amazing and is very futuristic.

Read about the future with The Definitive Guide to Healthcare Automation

2) Intelligent Voice to Enhance Medical Office Staff Efficiency

Painting Pictures with Words

Voice-enabled devices also played a large role for the teams in solving the issue of providers having to enter notes and wasting time in the patient appointment. We aren’t the only ones excited about voice-enabled devices! Voice speakers in the office would allow doctors to record the visit without staring at a screen. Earpieces for the doctors would also feed them 30-60 second summaries of a patient’s last visit before they entered the exam room, to ensure the doctor was up to speed on the patient’s medical history. Here is a list of 37 startups focused on delivering voice-enabled devices for healthcare, today. 

3) The Reward for Better Medical Office Staff Efficiency: Time with Providers

Maximizing Time is the reward for enhancing medical office staff efficiency

Both teams focused heavily on eliminating steps that got in the way of providers and patients talking. The teams accomplished this by
a) Eliminating note taking for providers via voice recording
b) Dynamically adjusting appointment types durations so patients wouldn’t arrive too early and find a rushing provider
c) Using real-time communication to make sure that patients arrived on time

4) Transparent billing and insurance companies

Transparency

The teams tackled the issue of billing and the complexity of dealing with insurance companies. Some examples include a subscription model that replaced insurance or extensive deals with the insurance companies incentivizing them to share data and records in exchange for simple pricing.

5) Robotics and Medical Office Staff Efficiency

Bender

Without staff there, both teams turned slightly to robotics, although not as much as one would think. The robot played the role of a greeter, showing patients to their room and escorting them out.

A Key Takeaway

We don’t think the medical office of the future should have zero staff but we did want to challenge ourselves to think about ways to eliminate the unnecessary manual tasks in order to find a better balance for your resources. Many tools mentioned here are already in the market in some capacity. Utilizing the right tools to create an integrated solution will pay huge dividends in increasing office productivity.