Simple Ways to Reduce Administrative Burden in a Practice

We all know the struggle from an administrative burden. Whether a small practice or large, administrative burden ranges from filling out commercial driver’s license forms to disability forms, and each task carries its own challenges while diverting time away from your already busy practice. Every clinic or hospital office carries heavy administrative responsibilities they wish to be relieved of, and administrative burden remains one of the top three reasons for physician burnout according to a recent AMA study. Below are some simple, achievable ways to reduce the time devoted to these tasks and make more effective use of your day.

Medical Assistants

Medical assistants (MAs) are invaluable resources to individually practicing physicians as well as the practice as a whole. However, the simple fact is their considerable skills, knowledge, and efficiency aren’t being used to their full potential. A way to look at this is to see what sorts of tasks can be completed by MAs based on their skill set and whether that time is a more effective use of time and practice resources versus a highly skilled and important physician filling out this same information. On a time-per basis, it may seem like the same amount of time is used whether a physician or MA completes a form, but think about the dollar value to a practice: 15 minutes of a physician’s salary is much costlier than 15 minutes of a medical assistant’s salary.

Consider the types of administrative forms a practice is often faced with: work health physicals, college sports participation forms, or prior authorizations for medications or imaging. Don’t squander resources unnecessarily. Most of the information can be filled out by an MA in advance, including basic demographic information like practice address, NPI number, and contact information. Beyond the basics, most forms require information that can be readily gleaned from the EHR or recent clinic visit. This allows the physician to quickly fill out only the information that is absolutely necessary on his or her end. On the physician’s end, anticipating work, the MA may need to fill out on future forms can help as well. The physician can fill out information in a chart and outline steps that will be essential to filling out these forms in the future, if need be.

EHR to the Max

The realities of efficient EHR management are that most practices are merely comfortable using the bare minimum requirements of their software to accomplish tasks in order to avoid the punitive measures of not fulfilling meaningful use. Also, the practice may be operating under the minimum requirements to avoid feeling behind other practices. However, when purchasing or maintaining an EHR, try to move ahead of the curve by thinking about cloud-based systems that can eliminate the cost of IT maintenance and allow for constant automatic updating.

Advanced use of EHRs can reduce administrative burden as well. Know which administrative forms require information that can be easily auto-populated by an EHR. Examples of forms that could benefit from being auto-populated are vaccination records and previously prescribed medications. This is a huge time saver, and it can be set up as an automatic process that initiates whenever these forms are needed. Setting this up may take some time up front, but the effort will be well worth it down the road, whether you work with your EHR support team personally, or if you outsource this type of work to experienced outside medical billing firms.

Standardize Your Practice

Delve further into repetitive tasks that must always be performed in practices. You will inevitably find more ways to shave time from administrative tasks without diluting them; you’ll likely improve the tasks as well. In primary care settings that may see a lot of diabetic patients, there are a number of tasks that are repeated each visit. Instead of asking when the patient’s last diabetic retinopathy eye exam was, or whether the patient is showing signs of depression. Think about how much could be accomplished before the visit. A PHQ-9 can be asked by an MA while the patient is waiting to be put in a room (or even completed by a patient through a patient portal before the day of the visit), and all relevant labs completed or missing for this diabetic visit can automatically be flagged by most EHRs.

Whether choosing to employ these administrative time savers yourself or through the help of outsourced medical billing firms, it is important to think ahead to save time, and to use many resources already at your disposal to their full potential.