Home / Blogs

Optimize Workflows to Help with Staffing Shortages

Turnover and not having the right people in the right roles in a medical practice can be costly, especially in this inflationary economy and tight labor market.

In fact, it is four times more expensive to hire new employees, if you can find them, today ($4,000 on average) than it costs to properly train them (approximately $1,000), according to a report in Entrepreneur.

With that statistic alone, it is apparent how important it is to find the right talent and focus on programs to develop and train staff so they continue to grow and learn … and stay with your practice for years.

This month’s guide, “The Labor Shortage and the Potential Impact on Front Desk Efficiency”, looks at the solutions for these challenges faced by a medical practice.

Maximize Workflow Efficiencies

The solution is a combination of streamlined processes, the right people, the correct management and leadership vision and style, and the best suited EHR software overlay.

  • Map Your Current Processes. Before you can fix what’s broken, you have to chart your current front-desk processes with a flow map. This will easily identify problem areas and streamline operations. Identify bottlenecks and eliminate waste such as wasted calls, wasted steps, wasted time, wasted energy, wasted and repeated work, etc. Include the entire team in this exercise so everyone understands the mission. The goal is to fix the problems and not lay blame. It’s all hands on deck to create the solution.

  • Design an Optimized Workflow. Now that you see the flaws of your processes, design what you and the team believe would be an ideal and streamlined flow using the same mapping as you did above. In the new and optimized workflow, be sure to address each bottleneck or flawed process identified in the mapping process.

  • Determine Staffing Levels and Job Descriptions. Given the new process flow, how many people do you really need at the front desk? Do you need more or fewer people? What are the distinct roles and job descriptions for each front-desk position? What type of experience and skills does each position require? It’s important to eliminate heavy overlaps and redundancies in workflow, though in a smaller practice you may need to cross-train people in all front desk duties in case a colleague is out sick or on vacation, for example.

    Work is optimized when all understand their role in the practice within a clearly defined organizational structure. Finding the right talent and placing them in the correct position is one of the fastest ways to eliminate bottlenecks.

    As you embark on this front-desk process improvement journey, consider using a virtual front desk (VFD) assistant to give you ample time and space to make the right people and process decisions. VFD assistants can help for both short-term and longer-term human talent needs.

  • Compensate Employees Fairly and Show Appreciation. Interfacing with the public is a difficult job that can often leave employees feeling undervalued, underpaid and/or unappreciated, the trifecta for losing good employees.

This high turnover in the post-pandemic economy makes it more important than ever to engage with employees and make them part of the front-desk solution. Ask them the tough questions, such as what the biggest problem in this office is, how could they do their jobs better and more efficiently, and what can management/staff do to improve? Your team has many of the answers you seek about your front desk bottlenecks, so be sure to tap into their knowledge.

Be Consistent

People like working for leaders who are inclusive, offer clear goals and direction, and are fair and consistent. Lead by example and execute the workflow plan you and the team devised to improve operations.

Be sure everyone follows the optimized workflow from every physician, clinician and technician to every front desk employee and billing/accounting staff. No exceptions. Without question, a strong EHR system overlay on top of strong processes will enhance overall practice operations significantly.

Be sure to regularly review the workflow plan and adjust it as your practice evolves and processes shift and change. Engage in those interim process adjustments with the same dedication and rigor you applied to the original workflow plan. Take steps to ensure you avoid haphazard “quick-fixes” and shortcuts that typically muck up the works long term.