Pre-visit planning is a way to ensure that your patients get the tests they need — and you get the test results you need — before their next visit. Then you can devote more attention during the visit to interpreting, discussing, and responding to that information.
The process begins at the end of the current visit:
• Identify what labs or other tests the patient should complete before the next visit. Using a “post-appointment order sheet” can be helpful, as it allows you to simply check the boxes for any tests the patient needs either the same day, before the next visit, before the annual wellness visit, or before a scheduled procedure.
• Have your staff enter the order and then work with the patient to schedule the tests and the follow-up visit before leaving the office, which will improve compliance. Patients may need to obtain tests several days before the follow-up appointment. However, if your practice uses point-of-care testing or has standard lab testing with a quick turnaround, patients may be able to have their blood drawn 15 minutes to an hour before their follow-up appointment.
Once the patient has completed the pre-visit lab testing, the following steps should occur:
• On the day of the follow-up visit (or the day before), the medical assistant or nurse can help organize the visit for the physician by making sure the results are available and doing a quick review of the patient's record to see what other needs the patient may have during the appointment (an immunization, screening, etc.).
• Conduct a brief “mini-huddle” before the visit. The nurse or medical assistant often learns important medical and social information during patient rooming. A brief “mini-huddle” before the physician meets with the patient can be helpful, ensuring a more efficient, organized visit.
Read the full FPM article: “Putting Pre-Visit Planning Into Practice.”
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