If patients can send you their questions through a patient portal, for instance, and you or your nurse can answer those questions quickly, that might cut down on the number of questions patients ask you during appointments, says Dunn. "When people have a better understanding of what's going on with them, they don't come back over and over with the same questions," she says. "They are not calling back in to your office two hours later or the next day saying, 'I don't understand.'"
Another added benefit of engaging with patients outside of your exam room: It could result in better patient outcomes. "I think if people are engaged they pay more attention to their health," says Dunn. "They're going to feel better, they're going to do maybe what you want them to do, and so it is going to be a better visit."
Looking for some great tools to maximize patient visits? Visit bit.ly/Time-Tools for a slideshow featuring some of our top picks.
Here's how to make the most of the limited time you can spend with patients:
• Review patient information prior to patient visits
• Meet with staff each morning to discuss prep work
• Delegate tasks that don't require your expertise
• Place education materials in each exam room and organize it by condition
• Use visual education tools
Aubrey Westgate is senior editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at [email protected].
This article originally appeared in the April 2014 issue of Physicians Practice.