Fam Pract Manag. 2007 Nov-Dec;14(10):44.

Walk the walk

To show our patients that we are committed to exercise and maintaining a healthy weight, our practice has monthly “tennis shoe days.” On these days, staff members wear tennis shoes, and we give out pedometers that we purchase for this purpose. This reinforces the message we deliver when we counsel patients about the importance of healthy lifestyles.

Make a good first impression

Most family physicians start the workday by parking behind their practice and entering through a back door. Instead, enter your practice through the front door occasionally. This lets you see your practice's exterior and waiting room through your patients' eyes. Be on the lookout for things like an overgrown lawn, a littered sidewalk or an untidy waiting area.

First impressions matter, and you'll never know what kind of opening impression your practice is making unless you go look for yourself from time to time.


Source: Kellerman R. Talk presented at: TransforMED National Demonstration Project Learning Collaborative Meeting; Sept. 14, 2007; Kansas City, Mo.

Increase the time you have for patients

How much time do you spend searching for handouts, walking to the printer, talking with drug reps, filling out forms, authorizing refills or rummaging through the sample closet? These small tasks add up to valuable time by the end of the day – time that should be spent seeing patients. Try these tips to minimize the amount of your time these uncompensated tasks require:

  • Use refill protocols to allow nursing staff to manage prescription refills.

  • Instead of dispensing medication samples that introduce patients to drugs that are unlikely to be covered by their insurance companies, save a trip to the sample closet. This will ultimately save you from follow-up calls and authorization requests.

  • Clearly document in patients' charts directions for the nursing staff regarding medications, tests and follow-up.

  • Appropriately delegate the management of authorizations. Keeping medical records up to date and accurate can help to keep these issues from reaching your desk.

You should constantly reflect on your practice's processes and strive to find inefficiencies. As you go through your day, ask yourself, “Do I need to perform this activity personally?” If the answer is no, talk with support staff about taking the duty off your hands.


Source: McGeeney T. Thinking inside the box. Available at: Accessed Sept. 27, 2007.

Retrieving medical records


I'm a solo physician considering retirement, and I'm concerned about what to do with my patients' medical records once I close my practice. I've heard there are companies that will manage these records and release them to future physicians upon authorization from the patient. How would I find one of these companies?


The best way to find record storage and retrieval services in your community is to first check with your county medical association for a discount contract as a member benefit. If that is unavailable, simply check the Yellow Pages phone book under “Business Documents and Records Storage.” The vendor does not need to be local.

While these services can be helpful in certain circumstances, I believe the best solution is to find a colleague, local medical group or new physician to become the custodian of the records in exchange for any business they might receive from those patients.


Practice Pearls presents readers' advice on practice operations and patient care, along with tips drawn from the literature. Send us your best pearl (250 words of less), and you'll earn $50 if we publish it. We also welcome questions for our Q&A section. Send pearls, questions, and comments to, or add your comments below.


Copyright © 2007 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
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