Published: August 10, 2018
Physicians are busier than ever and it’s only getting worse. Check out these 7 great ways to help manage your time more efficiently this year.
Physicians are busy. This is common knowledge. All the time they are dealing with strenuous patient loads, analog administrative demands, meetings, and never-ending paperwork. Not to mention the pains of managing credentials, compliance and care team coordination. In short, there is no such thing as foolproof time management for physicians.
As experts explain, part of this problem is that most of us simply aren’t trained to manage time. A better way to address the problem then is to look at time management as taking back time, rather than saving time. Here are a few expert tips to keep in mind:
Learn when to say “No”
Your coworkers are as busy as you, but they don’t know that. Be realistic about your time when someone asks you to help them with a project or help them by seeing a few extra patients. Taking on more work might seem like a good choice for your career and a way to make more money, but getting overwhelmed with stress will only slow your down productivity. Get comfortable with saying “no” and prioritize your schedule.
Take advantage of healthcare technology
Cloud-based software now offers physicians countless ways to optimize their practice by organizing health records and managing their schedules online. Find a management system that lets you and or your staff remotely access and manage your appointments. Some programs go as far as letting you set up automated alerts for upcoming appointments and sending out confirmation requests for patients. Make good use of mobile technology to help reduce unnecessary paperwork, scheduling errors, and patient no-shows.
Make use of electronic health records
If your organization isn’t already doing it, urge them to start using an EHR system or implement one in your private practice. However, be advised, finding and making good use of EHRs is another one of those easier said than done tasks. Moreover, you’ll want to ensure the platform is user-friendly and that you and the rest of the staff get enough training to get good use out of it. Remember, you want to increase productivity, not squander it.
Engage your patients remotely
I cannot stress the fact of technology’s use for our productivity. After all, it is made to make our lives easier. Take any chance you have to follow up with patients over phone or email. Additionally, look into the possibility of engaging patients through an online portal. Doing this will limit the time you spend responding to text messages, emails, and missed calls.
Parse your time to answer messages
Inevitably, patient call-backs and messages will begin to pile up throughout the day. Most physicians try to quickly handle a few messages at a time in between appointments. Others will push all messages to the end of the day. Neither of these practices is necessarily effective and more often than not, results in disgruntled patients and missed messages.
Try to single out a pocket of time every hour or two throughout your day to respond to non-urgent messages. This should keep you on top of things and avoid keeping your patients too long.
Limit interruptions and mobile distractions
As useful and practical as technology can be, it can also easily distract us from delicate analog tasks throughout the day. Invest time in creating a clear protocol for delegating non-urgent tasks, like taking messages or checking your email. Also, make sure to customize the number of alerts and notifications you receive from all your mobile devices, reducing it to the essential.
Set aside time for your personal life
This is perhaps the hardest thing for any physician out there, given the busy and sometimes unpredictable nature of their work. Give yourself the reward of fulfilling a personal task. Start with one task a week. Whatever it may be, from weeding your garden to reading a book. Be sure to write it down and set aside enough time for it and stick to the schedule no matter what, unless an emergency arises.
The idea here is simple and it’s no mystery: we work best when we’re happy. Giving yourself even the smallest smidgen of personal time once a week is the first step in building towards a balanced life.