The Intake

Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

How to maximize time with patients by boosting practice efficiency

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

provider and NP discussing the importance of spending time with patients

At a Glance

  • Physicians spend a significant portion of their day on administrative tasks and EHR, limiting direct patient interaction.
  • Automating tasks, such as online patient scheduling and digital forms, can free up more time for patient care.
  • Advance preparation, like having supplies ready, can ensure patients feel prioritized and reduce unnecessary costs.

The importance of spending quality time with patients can't be understated. But if you feel like you aren’t spending enough time with patients, you’re not alone. Physicians may be spending nearly 50% of their time in an average day on EHR and desk work and only 27% in direct face time with patients, according to a research report from the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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

Spend more time with patients and increase patient satisfaction

Here are some great ways to increase your patient face to face time at your private practice.

1. 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 physicians spend an average of 15.5 hours per week on paperwork and administration, according to the 2023 Medscape Physicians Compensation Report

Chances are, your team is always swamped, so you feel compelled to pitch in and help. Since you can’t be in several 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 them to focus on higher-value tasks, so you can spend more time with patients.

2. 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, one study estimates that the US healthcare system spends $75 billion to $100 billion on unnecessary tests that offer little to no clinical benefit to patients, as NPR reports.  

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 lead to greater patient satisfaction, because people will feel like a priority.

3. Bring a scribe into exam rooms

While in the exam room with patients, EHR activity may represent up to 37% of visit time, according to the same NLM study. 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.

4. Be mindful of patient scheduling

Some doctors double book patient appointments because they often don’t know if patients 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 burden your staff, as text confirmations can be reviewed in a matter of moments, but it will increase patient retention.

Download the report

According to Tebra's Patient Perspectives report, 65% of patients want to receive appointment reminders via text message. Additionally, 55% say that they want text reminders when it’s time to book a new appointment.

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 exams in an attempt to see everyone in a timely manner. 

Embracing automation can directly address these issues, too. Implement an intuitive EHR that supports charting, documentation, comprehensive patient histories, and labs so you can focus on providing exceptional patient care. And by replacing the clipboard with digital forms to gather patient information before a visit, you can see pertinent information before you enter the exam room — and potentially reduce overcrowding in your waiting room.

Choosing to spend more face to face time with your patients is vital for patient care and patient satisfaction.

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Learn how to create a seamless patient experience that increases loyalty and reduces churn, while providing personalized care that drives practice growth in Tebra’s free guide to optimizing your practice.

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Michelle Meier, freelance healthcare writer

Michelle Meier is a freelance writer with extensive experience writing about B2B/SaaS, digital health, and US healthcare. Her passion for writing about healthcare stems from an interest in health equity, addressing SDoHs, and improving access to care for all. She enjoys working to further the conversation about key issues impacting the healthcare landscape today. She lives in New York.

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