Feb 1999 Table of Contents

Improving Patient Care

Time Savers



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Use these tips to boost your efficiency in the office.

Fam Pract Manag. 1999 Feb;6(2):53.

This content conforms to AAFP CME criteria. See FPM CME Quiz.

Are you looking for simple ways to be more efficient in office visits? Consider these time-management tips offered by Susan Schooley, MD, chairman of the Department of Family Practice at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit and a member of the Board of Editors of Family Practice Management.

A forward command post

Organize one place in the clinical area where you can find all the common paperwork that supports your care, such as specialty referral forms, X-ray requisitions, work excuse notes, home health care forms, prescription blanks, coding books, formulary lists and contact numbers. You will save considerable time if you don't have to search for things you commonly need.

Organized exam rooms

You probably already work with your clinical assistants to set up each exam room with all the things you might need during a visit. You can save time if you make sure each room is organized the same way and encourage staff to do an inventory check before the start of the day. Prepare special trays for common procedures so you don't have to look for things during the visit. Have each exam room ready for a pelvic examination in case the need arises. Discovering you are out of an item in the middle of an examination is an awkward and time-consuming interruption.

Supply baskets

Prepare utility baskets to be placed in the exam room for certain kinds of visits. For example, an OB basket could have a fetal doppler, tape measure, gestation calculator and nitrazine paper. An eye basket could have fluorescein strips, eye drops, patches and black light. These and other baskets filled with commonly used supplies can save you time and steps.

The prescription bottle census

Train your patients, especially seniors, to bring their prescription bottles with them to each visit. Sometimes they have difficulty naming their medications and doses, and looking at the bottles themselves helps clarify whether refills will be needed before the next visit.

Medical record enrichment

If you have a paper medical record, embellish the problem list to store important clinical and personal data, such as the date and results of the most recent echocardiogram or LDL cholesterol, the names and numbers of specialists who share care, and risk factors. Supplement this information with sticky notes to yourself about specific follow-up plans and timing. You'll save time thumbing through thick charts looking for these items if they are always right in front of you.

Copyright © 1999 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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