Sure, the big IT tools help. But teaching your staff keyboarding, PC shortcuts, and how to use scanners and PDAs can go a long way toward boosting your operational efficiency.
Many of you will remember this well: a-s-d-f, j-k-l-; DING! a-s-d-f, j-k-l-; DING!
That’s right. Typing 101 - the bane of your existence way back in high school. The sight and sounds of a typewriter, once so prevalent and necessary to daily life both in and out of the office, now seem quite quaint.
But really, they’re not.
The device has changed, but the skills haven’t. Typing is now “keyboarding,” and we need to navigate the QWERTY setup with just as much proficiency now as we did back then. Think about it: Each of a practice’s staff members must feel comfortable using PCs and be able to type with some degree of efficiency to enter data they will need to retrieve again and again.
Therefore, the first technology add-on I recommend for any practice is a typing/keyboarding skills software application. Or enroll your staff members - clinical and administrative - in a class or an online program to help them develop and practice their typing skills. Allot time during the workweek for all employees who must use your PCs in the course of their duties for the necessary training.
You’ll reap the benefits from your investment for months and years to come as your group adopts additional technologies (perhaps even that EMR) that require them to spend more and more time with their keyboards.
Keyboarding is central to using many modern technology solutions, and everyone should both appreciate this fact and master the skill. Staff use typing skills when managing phone calls, determining patient insurance eligibility, scheduling appointments, tracking patient services, ordering supplies, and storing patient information, among other everyday duties.
But is typing proficiency really all that crucial to helping your staff become more tech savvy?
You bet. If your office is staffed with expert typists, they will be able to accomplish their tasks better, with less effort and more accuracy - and on the first try.
Consider this: Your network server (if you have one) essentially operates as a central file cabinet for your entire staff. Each PC connected to your server can access a variety of folders in which you can store commonly used forms for ready use. Any staff member with network access can easily fill out individual forms and print clean documents as needed. This is quite an improvement over photocopying a photocopy of a form that ultimately produces a document of such poor quality it becomes illegible. The trick is to take advantage of electronic versions of documents, avoiding unnecessary duplication.
Here are some additional simple, inexpensive tech shortcuts that can help your practice run more smoothly without large monetary investment:
Bottom line: Increasing your practice’s operational efficiency doesn’t automatically mean mortgaging your office to afford the newest technologies. Use what you have, and invest in staff training. Be glad if you must purchase additional PCs to support new functionalities, especially if your staff members are battling for computer time - that’s a true measure of how much they’ve adopted technological shortcuts to sharpen their efficiency.
Rosemarie Nelson is a well-known healthcare technology guru and principal with the Medical Group Management Association’s Health Care Consulting Group. She can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.