Four Creative But Easy Ways Physicians Can Save Time

Wish you could squeeze more productive minutes out of each day? TMA Practice E-Tips searched the web for some fresh ideas beyond the usual time-management techniques. Will any of these work for you? 

  1. Doctor blogger Suneel Dhand, MD, suggests paying attention to how you interact with your computer. "If you get into the habit of sitting down every time you are in front of the computer," he wrote, "a task that could take 10 seconds can easily turn into 2 or 3 minutes. Whenever you can, stand up and do whatever you need to, and get right back to where you should be - with your patient."

  2. Giving patients preprinted instructions, or advice sheets, about common conditions, exercises, diets, and the like can both save time in the exam room and perhaps keep patients from having to call you with questions. John Crosby, MD, offers another time-saving advantage: "I keep my printed handouts in pigeonholes over my work area, but outside of the exam rooms. Escaping to retrieve an advice sheet, as brief as it is, often helps to terminate an appointment," he wrote in the Canadian Medical Association Journal

  3. Theresa Rohr-Kirchgraber, MD, says you can save "tons of time," —  and cut out unnecessary testing —  by asking your patients a simple question: "What did you have to eat yesterday?" During a special speakers series at the American Medical Association's June Annual Meeting, she told attendees not to ask questions like "Are you sticking to your low-salt diet?" or "How much caffeine do you drink?" Make your patient get specific, and you will learn a lot in few minutes.

  4. "Train your staff that it is their responsibility to make sure you always have something to do," is advice from William Soper, MD, writing in Family Practice Management. "All office activities stem from physician activities, either directly or indirectly. If the physician isn't making good use of his or her time, the practice will eventually suffer the effects," he said. Some practices help accomplish this by using a centrally located flow station, where a doctor works side-by-side with a medical assistant who breaks down the paperwork, phone calls, and email into small bites. The physician can handle these tasks throughout the course of the day rather than in a batch at the end of the day, and can fill in any few minutes of dead time during the day productively. Read more about it in this blogpost.

Published Nov. 21, 2014

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June 17, 2016