How extending hours can benefit your practice and patients
Thursday, June 28, 2018
As a busy primary care provider, you're no doubt always looking for ways to maximize the care options you can provide your patients. Yet there never seem to be enough hours in the day to do so.
The simplest solution? Make more hours and extend your practice's daily appointment times. There are multiple upsides to adding additional office availability each week, as research has shown that patients, physicians and staff can all benefit from a practically planned expansion.
Here are some of the best results you can expect:
Your patients will visit the ER less often.
A recent study from the University of Maryland School of Medicine found that 47.7 percent of all U.S. medical care comes from emergency departments.
Often, patients are treated in the ER for nonurgent issues; if your practice offers extended hours on nights and weekends, this access would allow your patients to avoid the costly and sometimes unnecessary testing in a hospital workup.
This is because when a patient goes to your practice instead of the ER, it allows you, the physician who knows your patient best, to provide the most well-considered initial diagnosis and care.
Your patients will feel more emotionally comfortable.
Research from St. Michael's Hospital has shown that one in three adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities visit emergency rooms annually. These patients often experience anxiety and frustration in the chaotic environment that the ER can be, adding to the discomfort of their experience.
By extending your hours, you be highly available to can alleviate this kind of stress for patients with special challenges, as well as all of your other patients, who will also feel more psychologically comfortable in the familiarity of your office.
You can better utilize residents you work with.
If you're a preceptor for doctors-in-training, extended hours at your practice allow you to delegate more duties to your residents, so they can gain more patient experience, and so that you have the opportunity to observe them more extensively.
Residents can also use the extra time to prep for the day's appointments. A study from Johns Hopkins found that "just-in-time" technology, a model in which residents at a pain clinic blocked out 25-42 extra minutes to study the cases they would see the next business day, ultimately saved a total of 175 minutes of waiting room time for the patients they'd be seeing.
You'll enjoy time flexibility.
There are many ways you can choose to extend your hours. You can open an hour earlier or close an hour later, establish an in-office clinic on weekends, or book through your traditional lunch hour.
Your staff can also benefit from this flexibility by scheduling with your office manager as a team -- some staffers may choose to pick up more hours to make more money per week, while other staffers may want switch the times they work from days to evenings or weekends to accommodate their personal lives.
If you share your practice with one or more doctors, you can discuss how to cover appointments in a longer day to allow each other time off, or to provide respites during which each physician can cover paperwork and hospital call times with greater ease.
You'll enjoy bigger profits.
More hours equals more patients equals more revenue. Talk to your providing organization about the financial benefits of expanding your availability, and use the information and insight you get on this topic to perfect a plan that works best for your specific objectives.
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