Practice efficiency

Get tips on how to create a more resilient and profitable medical business

Creating and maintaining efficiency in a medical practice is not easy, but does have tangible benefits. By optimizing your business operations, you can maximize revenue and profitability, while increasing patient satisfaction.

A more efficient practice is also better able to adapt to continuing changes in the Ontario health-care system, as well as the greater economy.

Some of these factors, such as potential variations in OHIP billings and market increases in overhead expenses, are beyond your control. However, several functions within your practice can be managed to minimize the impact of these external forces.

A proactive approach will help to address the bottlenecks, redundancies, waste and excess that inevitably develop over time and cause problems across clinics of all sizes and types.

To get started, here are five key core areas to consider. There are also some questions to act as a starting point in generating a plan to address the most common problems.

Reviewing your practice for efficiency, ideally on an annual basis, will take time and effort. However, you will find you spend far less time reacting to changes and conflicts and can enjoy a smoother operation of your practice.

Considerations for practice efficiency

When it comes to inventory management, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you have a scheduled process for checking inventory balances? Create a system so your staff can ensure there is no duplication of inventory, or waste due to expired supplies
  • Are your supplies visible and accessible? Strategically place inventory in areas of highest use so that physicians and support staff are not wasting time searching or ordering redundant supplies
  • Is there accountability in the system? Make one or two staff members responsible for inventory ordering
  • Are you receiving the best price? Conducting an annual cost comparison might yield a supplier who can provide a better price for products or services — or give you some negotiating leverage with your current supplier

Consider the following questions:

  • Do you have clearly defined roles and responsibilities for your staff? This will help reduce confusion among staff, enable collaboration, minimize internal conflict and increase accountability. An efficient, motivated staff is key to running an efficient practice
  • Are you investing in your team culture? Create a sense of belonging and ownership through scheduled meetings to address clinical and staff issues, and to gain valuable insight from all staff members

When it comes to technology considerations, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Establishing an integrated electronic medical record, adapted to meet patient and provider needs, is a key component of an efficient practice
  • Have you considered a cross-platform EMR system? While many systems may independently address a particular function, cross-platform systems can minimize technical issues and related expenses
  • Is your EMR system in line with your strategy? Your system should be capable of handling the tasks required by your office today while supporting future growth.
  • Does your technology serve your daily needs and tasks? Technical deficiencies may inhibit practice growth and operations. On the other hand, additional phone lines, expensive equipment and high-capacity systems might look good on the shelf, but not be practical

Ask yourself the following questions when considering the patient experience:

  • Do you have a consistent communication strategy? From the internet to phone messages to in-person staff interactions, your communications must ensure that patients receive timely and consistent information through all channels
  • Are your patients satisfied? Collect real objective data through patient satisfaction surveys that will assist you in delivering the best possible care both within the exam room and beyond
  • Do you have long wait times or inconsistent scheduling practices? Consider leaving space in your schedule for patients with same-day care needs. Educate patients about arriving on time and limiting the number of issues they discuss per visit

When it comes to billing, consider the following questions:

  • Are you aware of applicable OHIP and third-party billing codes, including bonuses and premiums? Consider attending a billing webinar (member-only content) offered by the OMA Education Network, or obtain the support of billing specialists and practice management consultants to help you identify areas for improvement and training for staff and physicians
  • Are you aware of your accounts receivables? Implement a system for reviewing missed billings before the six-month window closes. Have staff share in the work to minimize simple errors by using health card validation, fixing billing rejections, and resubmitting bills on a timely basis
  • Is your staff motivated to help you improve your receivables? Construct a payment or incentive structure based on overdue receivables to help you increase your monthly earnings

Managing flow

Every day, numerous demands are placed on physician time — many of which directly impact time spent with patients.

Measuring wait times

The demands on a physician’s time continue to increase. This guide can help you manage wait times and reduce the office stress that comes with increased workload. The first steps are to carefully detail, measure and analyze your patient flow.

Download the measuring patient flow PDF.

Practice solutions

Once you have identified the bottlenecks and processes that waste time in your practice, how do you eliminate them? This guide offers practical tips and techniques to streamline your clinic design, processes, scheduling and more.

Download the practice efficiency PDF.

Additional products and services available for members

OMA members get access to exclusive savings from our partners. Explore these relevant resources, products and services.

Maximize your time

Access downloadable resources to streamline your practice on OMA Learns, including a webinar on how to tame documentation (member-only content).

Go to OMA Learns

Integrate technology

The OntarioMD Advisory Service team supports clinicians to maximize the value from their EMRs and other practice technologies.

Learn about the service

Uninsured services

The OMA has partnered with PatientSERV (member-only content) for exclusive access to an easy-to-use management solution for uninsured services.

See the solution