As a physician, you know how to diagnose and treat your patients’ problems, but you may not always know how to diagnose and fix the workflow problems in your practice that are causing inefficiency and frustration. Proven quality improvement techniques from other industries can help. Start with these 10 steps for addressing an inefficient process:
1. Clarify the value or purpose of the process from the patient’s perspective.
2. Eliminate any steps that do not add value.
3. Don’t batch and queue. Instead, deal with each task as it presents to you, keeping the process flowing continuously.
4. Standardize the process so that employees follow the same steps every time, eliminating the need for guesswork.
5. Strive for fewer handoffs, allowing employees to be responsible for a complete task.
6. Simplify the process wherever possible with fewer steps and fewer people involved.
7. Eliminate waits and delays both within and between steps.
8. Correct errors or defects at the moment they occur. Don’t send them ahead to the next step in the process.
9. Question the movement of people or things within a process.
10. Don’t set up a task force to improve your processes. Instead, begin immediately by making someone accountable for the continuous improvement of each key process and letting the people who do the work improve the work.
Read the full FPM article: “Making Every Minute Count: Tools to Improve Office Efficiency.”
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