Part II: Saying “Stop It” to the sacred cow
Intuitively, we all know what a sacred cow is. In practice or by definition when was the last time you asked, “Why do we do this, this way?” What was the trigger that created that practice or process? Is it work you just don’t like to do?
There are lots of things you can’t stop in this world: Records retention, charting, notifying patients, prescribed billing requirements. However, are you doing them as efficiently as possible? Is your EMR customized to your practice specialty? All of them can be. Are there interfaces and efficiencies that need to be built to optimize your systems? They may that look expensive on the front end but the current workarounds are costing you hours and hours of wasted time on the back end.
Sometimes you have to STOP whatever it is you are actually doing to reflect. Do you take time, regularly, of looking and reflecting on your current practices, processes? Do you ask the question: “Why are we doing this?” Particularly when you’re hearing the same comments at the same pain point over-and-over again. So, call the question: “Is this REALLY the way it should be done?” My experience is that 80% of the time, there is an opportunity to find a new solution. There are times (about 20%) when you need to build a bridge and get over it. Some things cannot change.
However, the vast majority of practices and processes could use the “Stop It” button. The next time you reflect on your current-state, ask yourself three questions:
- What didn’t work? This is NOT asking yourself why. It is just identifying what isn’t working. It’s important to understand that stopping something doesn’t necessarily imply failure. Sometimes, it just didn’t work.
- What would stopping do? Quantify the benefit of stopping. While doing so, also inventory what gaps would be created and so, what needs to be filled.
- What are the barriers? It helps to identify what is preventing you and your practice from stopping something.
When I consult a practice and witness staff members scrolling through lists of items that are not their focus in software or online interfaces, before reaching their area of focus or assignment I feel their discouragement. For example; the only ICD-10 codes that should come up on the screen should be those relevant to your specialty. Build in the filters that make it easier for people to do their work. It takes time on the front end, but the cost-benefit ratio is high.
In the case of the physician who stopped seeing pharma reps in the course of her day, she identified the barriers to stopping something and then identified a staff member who could capture samples and log them appropriately. (which also mitigated a liability risk). As soon as she hit the “Stop It” button, she transferred 45 minutes of her day to about 15 minutes of someone else’s day. She also successfully shifted it to a person who wasn’t seeing patients and gave herself the opportunity to see more patients and positively impact revenue.
To begin the process of looking for things to “stop” doing, just look around your office for things that aren’t getting done in a timely fashion. Are they things that need to be stopped or are there other activities that are preventing you from getting them done. If there are things piling up, you have to ask yourself: “What needs to be stopped?” Is this process contributing to patient care or the bottom line? Or is it busy work because our team does not trust each other?
If you are way behind in your charting, for example, that cannot stop. However, there are probably several things that are being done right now that should stop to afford the time to do the things that are legally required and essential for practice operations and success. Soon enough, your practice will be ADEPTSM at the new business of health care. If you need a bit of insight on the specifics, we can help.