7 Time-Saving Tips for Doctors

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  • For many doctors, it feels like the only way to get your to-do list done would be to magically have more hours in your day. But short of a major shift in the space-time continuum, doctors can benefit from a few tips and tricks to streamline their schedules and improve time management. Try out these tactics to help make your day more efficient and more productive—for you, your staff, and your patients.

  • 1
    Clear your office of clutter.
    messy desk

    An organized day starts with an organized workspace. Minimizing the amount of papers, folders, cords and other assorted objects on your desk cuts down on time spent searching for the information you need and helps you focus on the task at hand. Set the same expectation for your front office and support staff. Work with team members to develop and maintain a system of organization that empowers everyone to work as efficiently as possible.

  • 2
    Take advantage of EHR training.
    African American nurse practitioner or physician assistant looking at computer

    Electronic health records (EHR) arrived with the promise of reducing time spent on paperwork but have themselves become a major pain point in terms of time spent. Make sure you’re using all the tools and shortcuts your software offers by signing up your practice for training sessions and webinars. Don’t let one person be the EHR “expert” in the office; ensure all team members are fluent in the best ways to maximize EHR functionality.

  • 3
    Use templates for frequent tasks.
    Caucasian male doctor writing on paper at table

    If you find yourself writing the same prescriptions, ordering the same procedures, or explaining the same instructions over and over, look for ways to “automate” these steps. Many EHR programs offer template functions for common tasks, or some doctors recommend printing hand-outs for patients or creating stickers for frequent prescriptions with checkboxes for dosages. Anything that saves you and your staff even just a few seconds each time will add up over the course of a day.

  • 4
    Delegate tasks to advanced practice providers.
    Hispanic doctor and nurse practitioner reviewing chart

    The presence of advance practice providers (APPs), such as nurse practitioners (NPs) and physician assistants (PAs), has been increasing: In 2018, 60% of physicians had APPs on their team, up from 25% in 1999. In addition to seeing patients, APPs can share the workload of tasks like answering patient questions, scheduling screenings, and refilling prescriptions. Ask physician assistants to review labs and flag priority cases for your attention so you can focus your time where it’s most needed.

  • 5
    Hire a scribe.
    Unseen Caucasian male's hands in white coat typing on computer

    Bringing on another full-time employee may feel like a luxury, but more physicians are finding scribes to be invaluable members of their practices. Also called documentation assistants, medical scribes enter notes into the EHR during an appointment, allowing the doctor to focus more attention on the patient. Studies show the use of scribes benefits everyone involved: Patients reported feeling more connected with their doctors, and physicians said they felt “freed” of the burden of data entry and could “be a real doctor again.”

  • 6
    Set time expectations with patients.
    Office clock on wall

    This can be tricky, because you don’t want to give patients the impression upfront that you’re rushing them. However, by letting patients know how much time you have to spend with them, you can help prioritize the conversation and make sure important topics come up first, and not as a last-minute “Oh, by the way” as the appointment is wrapping up. Position the goal of staying on schedule as a joint effort, while still being sensitive to patients and cases that require extra time.

  • 7
    Coach patients to use digital portals.
    Female Caucasian doctor smiling and talking with patient while holding tablet

    Together with front desk staff, provide patients with information and instructions on how to use digital portals, which can save time for both patients and practices. Assure patients that these portals are safe ways to access their own appointment schedules, medical histories, and lab results. Offer guidelines on what’s appropriate to ask the doctor or medical staff via email or messaging, and provide an expectation for how long it may take you to respond. Maximizing the features of digital portals can cut down on time spent answering patient calls or repeating common actions, freeing up you and your staff to focus on higher priority tasks.

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  1. Doctors' Best Time-Saving Tips. Healio. https://www.healio.com/news/20151110/doctors-best-time-saving-tips
  2. Top 6 physician time savers. Medical Economics. https://www.medicaleconomics.com/view/top-6-physician-time-savers
  3. Boost Physician Productivity With These Time-Saving Tips. SE Healthcare. https://www.sehealthcarequalityconsulting.com/2019/09/23/boost-physician-productivity-with-these-time-saving-tips/
  4. The overlooked benefits of medical scribes. American Medical Association. https://www.ama-assn.org/practice-management/sustainability/overlooked-benefits-medical-scribes
  5. 12 Smart Time Management Tips for Doctors. Medscape. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/860328
  6. 7 Time-Saving EHR Use Tips to Boost Physician Productivity. EHR Intelligence. https://ehrintelligence.com/news/7-time-saving-emr-use-tips-to-boost-physician-productivity
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