If you find yourself spending a lot of time during the day on “uncompensated tasks” … you are not alone.
According to the Physicians Foundation, doctors lose at least $50,000 in revenue annually simply because they are dealing with uncompensated tasks, which can include prior authorizations, EHR data entry, paperwork and more.
In fact, statistics say that the typical physician spends 20% of their workday on these uncompensated tasks.
So what can you do to eliminate uncompensated tasks and improve your practice’s profitability?
Experts say the first thing physicians need to do is this:
Start avoiding all tasks that do not require a medical license.
Physicians who are better at delegating unlicensed tasks are usually the ones with higher net incomes, according to experts. That means you shouldn’t be opening any mail, answering any phones or rooming any patients.
To help you delegate more, here are some specific things you can do.
EHR documentation –
Instead of spending time entering information into an EHR, some physicians prefer to take notes on a paper form and then have that form entered into the EHR later by a staff member.
Conduct family conferences during a patient’s appointment –
Instead of emailing or calling family members (which is uncompensated time), have them accompany the patient to the appointment and you can address their concerns then (during compensated time).
Streamline paperwork –
Instead of taking paperwork home with you and doing it in the evenings to catch up … set up an inbox at work where staff can place forms you need to sign. Then between appointments or at lunch you can sign them and place them in an outbox where staff can retrieve them and send them on their way. You may also want to consider charging a nominal fee for forms, like FMLA or employer-required disability forms, that don’t require an office visit.
Streamline online communication –
Instead of you spending valuable time each day responding to every portal message from patients set up a triage system and designate a staff member to respond when messages are related to insurance coverage, referrals, medication refills, scheduling and similar subjects. This way you will only be responding to messages a nurse has deemed you need to see.
Improve EHR documentation –
Use templates when possible, such as for physicals. This can be a real time saver. You may also want to consider using scribes. Experts say that using scribes (at a pay rate of $10 to $17 an hour) may improve net income by 10% or more depending on practice size. It can also do a lot to improve your own job satisfaction and prevent burnout.
Be efficient with patients –
One tip here is to place a clock on the wall in each exam room that is behind the patient so that you can easily see the time. This will help remind you to keep moving. You should also focus on communicating more effectively with patients. There are many videos on YouTube that cover this subject and offer tips.
Here’s the bottom line:
Sometimes having to complete uncompensated tasks is unavoidable. Likewise using personal time to complete tasks necessary for keeping your practice running efficiently may also be unavoidable at times. But you should strive to limit both as much as possible.
There are some very real benefits to trying to eliminate uncompensated time and streamline your work efforts.
The Physicians Foundation 2016 Biennial Physicians Survey reported that 80% of doctors feel “overextended” or “at capacity” and 49% said they often or always feel burnt out.
By taking steps to eliminate uncompensated time you can reduce stress and frustration and dramatically improve your work-life balance.