The Intake

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

How to identify inefficiencies at your independent practice — and fix them

Independent practices can overcome their unique challenges by optimizing operations and increasing quality of care.

improve healthcare efficiency

At a Glance

  • Efficiency is a key part of success in healthcare for organizations of all sizes.
  • To address inefficiencies, start by identifying them in both processes and resources.
  • Then, look for ways to address them, including using practice automation, implementing a centralized platform, and alleviating staff workloads.

For independent healthcare practices, efficiency isn’t just a goal — it's a necessity. According to the 2020 CAQH Index, $39 billion is spent conducting administrative transactions tracked by the index. It predicts the industry can save $16.3 billion by transitioning to fully electronic transactions. That results in big savings on just one area of inefficiency in healthcare. But these numbers aren't just intangible goals. With independent practices having much smaller margins, they're wake-up calls showing the need for a shift.

This much-needed shift can be driven by independent practices using digital tools to both identify and solve their inefficiencies in order to drive profitability. In fact, in a recent study conducted by Tebra, 61% of patients report choosing healthcare system-based providers over independent practices due to digital convenience. If larger systems already use these tools to draw in patients, then so can smaller practices. By integrating smart technology into everyday processes, independent providers can streamline operations and, surprisingly, bring back the human touch that patients want. 

By integrating smart technology into everyday processes, independent providers can streamline operations and, surprisingly, bring back the human touch that patients want. ”

In this article, we're not just talking about the increasing role digital tools and automation can play in identifying and overcoming efficiencies — we're also exploring how these innovations are game-changers for smaller practices. Independent practices can overcome their unique challenges by optimizing their operations and increasing their quality of care, helping patients make the transition from larger practices to small ones.

Identifying inefficiencies in independent practices

The first step to overcoming inefficiencies and resource leaks is to identify them. Let’s break it down into 2 categories: processes and resources. 

How do you identify inefficiencies in a process?

If you want to find inefficiencies in your processes, you need to conduct regular workflow audits. These aren’t just routine check-ups; they’re essential for spotting process bottlenecks.

Review your workflows, patient flows, and communication channels. Go even deeper and examine your appointment scheduling, patient intake, information management, and follow-up procedures. Aim to identify any bottlenecks or redundancies.

How do you identify inefficiencies in resources?

Identifying resource inefficiencies means assessing how staff, equipment, and financial resources are used. This can include analyzing staff workload distribution, the use of medical and office equipment, and the allocation of financial resources. Everything should contribute positively to patient care and practice operations. 

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5 questions to identify and address inefficiencies

To help you get more actionable in finding inefficiencies, we have 5 specific questions to ask yourself about your practice and solutions to solve those inefficiencies. These questions and solutions will get you thinking about the very specific ways your practice operates.

Are we leveraging online appointment scheduling and reminders to reduce no-show rates and enhance patient engagement?

This question is key because online scheduling and automated reminders can drastically reduce no-shows, a common revenue leak for practices. 

In Tebra’s recent study, 26% of respondents felt they got better care with their independent provider due to easier appointment booking. 75% of patients in another Tebra survey said that if they could reschedule their appointment online, without having to call the office, they would be more likely to show up to their appointment. 40% of patients in the same survey said that receiving more reminders would stop them from canceling, rescheduling, or not showing up.

Solution: Implementing online scheduling and reminders not only reduces no-show rates, but also improves patient engagement. It offers patients the convenience of booking and managing their appointments on their terms, which enhances their experience and satisfaction.

Can we simplify the patient intake process with automation to minimize data-entry errors and improve overall efficiency?

In Tebra's 2024 Patient Perspective Survey, well over half of patients (68%) surveyed want intake to be digital. And nearly all of them (98%) want to complete it before coming in for their appointment.

Solution: Streamline patient intake with automation. Automating the patient intake process can reduce the potential for errors in patient information. It also saves valuable time for both patients and staff — leading to a more efficient practice operation. Digital intake forms, electronic health records (EHR), and patient portals simplify the process, leading to a more efficient workflow.

Have we addressed roadblocks to interoperability by using a modern EHR for access to comprehensive patient information in a centralized platform?

Interoperability issues can lead to fragmented patient care. Incompatible systems or data silos can create barriers to sharing patient information among healthcare providers. This fragmentation can result in disjointed care, with crucial medical details inaccessible to different practitioners, potentially compromising treatment decisions and patient outcomes. 

Solution: Overcome interoperability roadblocks by establishing seamless data exchange protocols. Use a modern electronic health record (EHR) system to centralize patient information and improve access across different healthcare providers. This not only saves time but also ensures better-informed treatment decisions and comprehensive and continuous care.

What can we do to reduce the time and costs associated with redundant administrative tasks, alleviating staff’s workload and addressing burnout?

Addressing inefficiencies, like redundant administrative tasks and burnout causes, overall helps identify ways to optimize staff efficiency and morale

In Tebra's State of the Independent Healthcare Practice Ownership report, independent practice owners said reducing administrative burdens is the top change they'd like to see to stay independent.

Solution: Reduce administrative redundancies. Strategies like automating billing processes, using digital record-keeping, and implementing efficient communication systems can help reduce the time and costs associated with administrative tasks. They can also alleviate staff workload and preventing burnout.

Are we automating the feedback collection, monitoring, and response process to understand patients’ experience and satisfaction?

Not automating feedback processes can hold practices back because they miss out on valuable insights into patient satisfaction. Without automated systems in place, gathering and analyzing feedback becomes labor-intensive and time-consuming. This can potentially lead to delays in identifying areas for improvement. This lack of timely feedback can impede efforts to tailor services to patient needs and may result in decreased patient satisfaction and loyalty, ultimately holding back practice growth and success.

Solution: Automate patient feedback collection and response process. Using automated tools to collect and analyze patient feedback can provide valuable insights into patient satisfaction and areas needing improvement. Not missing out on feedback and being able to respond in real-time can greatly improve the quality of care provided.

Don’t lose that personal touch. Even though your practice is automating many communication systems, make sure to train staff on how to best communicate and engage with patients so they don’t just feel like a number — or like they’re talking to a robot.

Enhancing patient care through efficiency improvements

Every step you take towards improving efficiencies in your practice directly translates to better patient care. Optimizing processes means more time for patient interaction, allowing for more personalized care. That’s how independent practices can stand out, with this personalized touch, turning patients into advocates for your practice in a world where bigger health systems aren’t always better.

Addressing inefficiencies is not just about operational success. It’s also about a practice that runs like a well-oiled machine and feels like a warm, welcoming community. With 57% of respondents to Tebra’s survey stating they’re willing to change from a larger health-based system to an independent practice for a stronger relationship with their provider, these digital touches can elevate your patient experience from good to great.

Learn more about what patients want from their independent providers by downloading our independent provider playbook today.

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You Might Also Be Interested In

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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Jenn Green

Jenn Green has been using her BA in fine arts from York University in Toronto to publish articles on The Intake, Homebase, Master School, and Airalo. Jenn’s personal health challenge that required significant medical attention drives her passion for writing about healthcare-related topics. She believes ongoing education is critical to successful outcomes and to ensure providers offer the best patient care possible.

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