A Year’s Worth of Planning

November 13, 2008

How do you effectively manage your practice for a full year? Seasonal issues can affect your patient flow and bottom line.

How do you effectively manage your practice for a full year? Seasonal issues affect your patient flow and bottom line. Also, your needs may vary if your practice deals with chronic care vs. more acute-care patients.

Let’s look at a couple models:

For primary-care practices, there might be various times when physicals need to be worked into the schedule. In order to do this you might consider what other specialized activities can be shifted to another part of the year. For example, instead of offering corporate physicals all year round, why not put a push for those in July when most family activity will be slower? You might construct a schedule like this:

If your practice is more geared toward cardiology or orthopedics, you probably deal with different types of patient injuries or acute problems, with specific issues cycling based on the season:

If you have a chronic-care practice where patients must return every three months for “routine” checks, plan to do those on certain days of the week as opposed to seeing them at any time they fit in the schedule -- “Diabetes Days,” for example. You can have the diabetic educator, the dietitian, and the supplies necessary every Tuesday morning for the diabetic patients who are part of the practice. This maximizes your resources and also improves both patient outcomes and satisfaction.

This discussion is not really intended to give you answers; instead it is to challenge you to consider your patient flow and workload for a period of time longer than tomorrow or next week. You can’t pre-plan everything, of course, but if you can arrange to have the right resources at your fingertips when you’re most likely to need them, you’ll practice much more efficiently. You can always fill in with routine activities when times are slow.

Owen Dahl, FACHE, CHBC, is a nationally recognized medical practice management consultant with over 24 years of experience in consulting for and managing medical practices and author of Think Business! Medical Practice Quality, Efficiency, Profits. He can be reached at odahl@comcast.net or 281 367 3364.