ORI’s Lunch & Learn was on a popular topic around the office: planning a medical billing workflow strategy to meet and exceed ORI guarantees. The goal of the discussion was not about how to work harder and faster; rather how to work smarter and more efficiently, start planning and get out of the box. This can be accomplished little by little, starting with one day, then a week, and extending to monthly and annual planning. Developing a strong medical billing and patient workflow design is not easy, and specialization and continuous improvement of each person’s role is where ORI gains a competitive edge.
To get staff interested in continuous improvement, the discussion started off with a “what’s in it for me” approach. Some of the benefits of planning are reduced stress and peace of mind. There is nothing worse than having a lot of work to do but not really knowing what you have to get done. Having goals and prioritizing a plan of action helps you know if your goals are obtainable. If you can recognize early that you need help – you can ask for it. Moreover, if you know that extra time is needed you can communicate to the client or those that you report to. Having a plan also enables you to evaluate your progress and know if you are staying on schedule. There are personal benefits too like having the satisfaction of getting your work done on time and budgeting your day to meet client needs. Perhaps the most significant benefit of a strong workflow and being responsive to the needs of patients and customers is having the confidence in a job well done.
One of the easiest ways to improve your strategy is to identify the workflow “champions” in your office. These champion are not always easy to spot and sometimes those that tout that they are the most efficient may not always play out to be true. Keep an eye on the quantity and the quality measures. Just because the numbers look great, it doesn’t mean much if it comes at the expense of client or patient satisfaction. The same is true in reverse.
In most cases, there is not one person who has it all in a mid-size independent practice. Every individual has an area they excel in. These can be identified by reviewing the habits of high performers through simple observation and listening or “shadowing,” which involves sitting with a peer to just watch and learn their work habits. For example, if someone is always prepared to buttress their points at the staff meetings, ask them how they get ready prior to the meeting. If someone always meets and exceeds their performance goals, stop by their desk and ask them what their strategy is. Most people will be glad to share their strategy in the areas they thrive. In return, you can offer a time saving tip or efficiency measure; then everyone benefits.
Once you have identified an area of your medical practice you would like to improve – and a great habit that you need to integrate, its time to develop a plan of action. Begin with building a robust goal, either personal or for your medical practice. One habit you want to create is using SMART goals. It will increase your chances of being successful!
- Specific– A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. Ask yourself who, what, where, when, why and how.
- Measurable – Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as how much, how many and how will I know when it is accomplished?
- Attainable – When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop the attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. You can attain most any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps.
- Realistic– To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both high and realistic; you are the only one who can decide just how high your goal should be. But be sure that every goal represents substantial progress.
- Timely – A goal should be grounded within a time frame. With no time frame tied to it there’s no sense of urgency.
Once you have your SMART goal for your medical practice, identify the daily, weekly, monthly and annual steps to implement the change, monitor and measure your progress, and achieve your goal. When your goal is SMART, you have a better chance of making it attainable and improving your performance, sense of satisfaction, and professional skills – not to mention your reputation with your patients and clients!