As a busy chiropractor, you only have a set number of hours in a day. And you want to use those hours as efficiently as possible. You want a productive office where the work gets done – by only having to do it one time.
Duplication of work, fixing someone else’s mistakes or having to hustle to overcome delays caused by inadequate paperwork makes for a sluggish operation, lowers morale, drains away potential revenue and, worst of all, gets your patients wondering if they can really trust you with their healthcare.
How does this happen, why is this important and how do you fix it?
Fixing the Holes
Let’s look at some examples.
Case No. 1: Tom, your insurance biller, sends some paperwork to patient Dillon’s insurer. Three weeks later the insurer replies, stating it cannot pay for that particular treatment. You call the insurer to discover the paperwork was not adequately completed, incorrect codes were used and treatment information was not correctly noted on the forms.
As you begin fixing the paperwork, you’re informed by the insurer that it now wants to review all the patient’s files previously submitted to ensure correct reimbursements were distributed.
Solution: Implement training and policy revisions that distinctly describe how insurance paperwork is completed. Generate a checklist for your insurance biller and other staff members to follow prior to submitting requests.
Case No. 2: Joe walks in the door for his 3 p.m. appointment. Joe is a regular patient. He never misses an appointment but he is on a tight schedule.
You just hired a new receptionist. Brenda’s eager to please, but doesn’t let anyone know that Joe has arrived for his 3 p.m. appointment. She says later she knew everyone was real busy and didn’t want to “bother” you until she knew you had more time.
Meanwhile, Joe waits, glancing frequently at his watch and up at Brenda. Ten minutes past and Joe still sits.
Finally, Brenda alerts you that Joe is in the waiting room. Joe growls in the treatment room that he’s going to be late in setting up for the little league game tonight. Joe’s not a happy camper – and you can certainly tell during the treatment.
Solution: Establish a policy and implement a notification system giving you and other staff members quick and easy access to patient arrival information.
Case No. 3: Sally hasn’t come to your office for treatment in three years. Staff member Sam is able to find her old patient records and tells her that you or your associate will see her in a few minutes. She completes the customary paperwork for a daily visit.
You find Sally waiting for you in a treatment room. However, the paperwork you examine as you greet her is not the right paperwork since she has not been to the office for three years. She must undergo a more in-depth evaluation. You apologize and inform her she must fill out a few additional forms. Perplexed, Sally complies, but she thinks your office could be a little more organized.
Solution: Create specific practice policy, train staff thoroughly on how to implement policy and to follow protocol and organize office systems to equip staff with proper paperwork for various situations.
Case No. 4: Barney has been working as a chiropractic assistant at your practice for six months. He works at the front desk and directs patient care. Wednesday is your busy day, especially with a couple staff members out of the office. Barney calls in and says he’s found another job and won’t be coming to work today – five minutes after your office opens. The waiting room is starting to fill up.
While the most qualified, office manager Jim stands in for Barney but spends part of the hectic day shuffling paperwork in confusion and looking for forms while frowning patients wait impatiently.
Solution: Organize and implement a staff-driven practice where employees are trained on aspects of other job functions and establish processes that cover contingency plans.
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