10 tips to create office efficiency with improved communication

Understanding how a patient progresses through an appointment can impact both the quality of care and the efficiency of care. Well-defined communication channels can improve the cycle time for office visits and leave patients more satisfied with their care.

  1. Educate your staff. Make sure people at all stages of care are up to speed with how patients move through the clinic, how to communicate and why it's important.
  2. Cancellations and late arrivals can derail clinical workflow. Ensure that management positions are staffed through breaks and lunch hours.
  3. Always greet patients by name. It will make first-timers feel more at home and clarifies inter-office communication with regards to returning guests.
  4. Encourage your reception staff to provide updates. Waiting is easier for some patients, as they know where they're at in the appointment process.
  5. Don't interrupt. Powering through a list of questions might seem like the best way to gather treatment information. However, according to the American Academy of Family Physicians, patients will share 90 percent of their needs if allowed to speak for three to four minutes.
  6. Appearing rushed can actually slow things down and decrease communication. Keep information flowing by avoiding nonverbal signs that make you appear rushed.
  7. Stay on target. Don't get pulled into conversational tangents that take time away from care and other patients. Engage in pleasantries that make patients feel comfortable, but don't let them lead the conversation astray.
  8. Use scripts and clearly defined processes for routine procedures. Delivering different treatments for patients with similar needs can lead to confusion. Don't let inconsistency slow the office down.
  9. Sometimes it's easy to ignore good news, but communication is important regardless of the outcome. Good or bad, follow up with updates, new information and test results.
  10. Offices are set up to support physicians and staff. Try looking at the office from a patient's perspective to find opportunities to increase communication and the flow of treatment.