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How to maximize time with patients by boosting practice efficiency

Want to increase patient satisfaction? You can start by spending more time in the exam room. Follow these tips to make it happen.


If you feel like you aren’t spending enough time with patients, you’re not alone. Most (62 percent) of doctors spend just 13 to 24 minutes with each patient, according to the 2018 Medscape Physician Compensation Report. Interestingly, 27 percent of physicians surveyed cited “gratitude / relationships with patients” as the most rewarding part of their job, highlighting a clear disconnect.

Want to enjoy a greater sense of career fulfillment and boost patient satisfaction levels? Follow this advice to spend more time with each person.

Spend more time with patients and increase patient satisfaction in healthcare

Seek assistance from your team

You have office staff, but you still find yourself spending an inordinate amount of time on administrative tasks. This is common, as 38 percent of physicians spend 10 to 19 hours per week on paperwork and administration — 32 percent spend 20 hours or more — according to the Medscape survey.

Chances are, your team is always swamped, so you feel compelled to pitch in and help. Since you can’t be two places at once, this is taking time away from your patients.

Help your staff become more efficient by automating as many of their tasks as possible. For example, offer online patient scheduling, so they don’t have to keep picking up the phone to answer appointment requests. This will free up more room in their schedule, so you can spend more time with patients.

Check out: How to automate appointment reminders and routine practice tasks

Prepare in advance

Increase the amount of time you have with patients by starting the care process long before you walk into the exam room. Have a medical assistant set the room up with all the supplies you’ll need for the patient, so you can spend more quality time with them.

Additionally, plenty of other steps can be taken prior to appointment day, including having a member of your staff request test results, so you don’t have to run duplicates. In fact, some experts believe excessive testing and treatment wastes at least $200 billion annually, according to a 2017 Los Angeles Times article.

Having all the tools and information needed to treat the patient readily available will avoid delays and keep you from having to leave the room to find the necessary supplies. This will allow you to enjoy greater patient satisfaction levels, because people will feel like a priority.

Bring a scribe into exam rooms

While in the exam room with patients, doctors spend 37 percent of their time on EHR and desk work, according to the 2016 study Allocation of Physician Time in Ambulatory Practice: A Time and Motion Study in 4 Specialties, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. If this sounds familiar, consider having a scribe take notes for you.

When you don’t have to keep looking down to take notes, you have more time to concentrate on the patient in front of you. This will allow you to provide a higher quality of care and deepen your bond with patients.

You might like: How many office staff does my healthcare practice need?

Be mindful of patient scheduling

Some doctors double book patient appointments because they often don’t know if their patient will show up. Missed appointments mean lost revenue, which hurts your bottom line.

Minimize no-shows and last-minute cancellations by sending automated appointment confirmations and reminders. This won’t place a burden on your staff, as text confirmations can be reviewed in a matter of moments, but it will increase patient retention.

A 2017 survey conducted by healthcare nonprofit Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) revealed 38 percent of patients who missed a medical appointment in the past 12 months said a reminder text could have helped them.

Double booking works when one patient doesn’t show up, but you can easily get jammed up when both people arrive for an appointment in the same time slot. Having a packed waiting room can force you to rush through patient exams in an attempt to see everyone in a timely manner.

Read: 5 ideas to reduce no-shows and cancellations at your healthcare practice

If your patient satisfaction levels are down because you’re not spending enough time with each person, PatientPop can help. Find out how the PatientPop practice growth solution can make your team more efficient, so you can spend more quality time with patients.

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