Improving Workflow in PT Practice

106-e1412777203600Wiping the Slate Clean

What combination of automation and human efforts will improve workflow in Shannon’s practice?

Shannon made a point of leaving work a little early and picking up the kids from school right on time. Amazingly enough, there were no after-school activities on their calendar, and by the time Mike got in from work, Shannon and the kids had dinner on the table and homemade cookies cooling on a rack.

“I’m sorry,” Shannon and Mike both said at the same time as their eyes met over the kids’ heads. Shannon could see the kids relaxing. She remembered that “Mommy and Daddy are fighting” feeling from her own childhood, and she was glad it didn’t happen very often at their house.

“Listen, Shannon,” Mike said as they took their places around the table, “I shouldn’t have –“

“Yes, you should,” said Shannon. “And I’d appreciate it if you’d talk more with me about this. I remember when you showed me the dashboard you use for the restaurant. I remember thinking that it would work better for the practice than what we have now.”

“I remember you said you collected lots of information, but it didn’t seem to lead to action items.”

“We don’t have a dashboard — we have to run reports. Honestly, I’ve never really learned how to make the reports include what I want,” Shannon admitted. “I haven’t had time to get control of it. Theresa runs some reports and I run some, and sometimes we argue about what patterns we think we see, but I guess mostly we just admire the numbers.”

Their daughters giggled. Shannon made a mischievous face for them. “It’s true,” she continued. “They don’t lead to action. Either we see good stuff and we’re happy or we see bad stuff and we’re sad, or we disagree about whether it’s bad or good.”

“Reports like that don’t give you quick insights into the things you need,” Mike shrugged. “I think in your case you need to identify the bottlenecks in your workflow.”

The little girls found this hilarious.

“I know what you mean,” Shannon laughed. “The reports we know how to run just focus on one aspect of the work at a time. In real life, the work the staff does overlaps among the different aspects of the practice. New patient flow, no shows, patients with no future appointments, billing, patient balances, inventory, third-party vendors”

Shannon’s voice had taken on a sing-song quality and the girls were wiping tears from their eyes because their mom was so funny.

Their son, on the other hand, jumped in and told them about the report he was working on for school.

After the kids had left the table, Shannon and Mike worked together to clear and do the dishes. The combination of their practiced routine and their automatic dishwasher made short work of the task, and Shannon pointed it out. “Theresa and I work together well, too. If things were automated at work they way your software at the restaurant is,” she said, “we could identify the issues and work together — and with the other staff — to solve the issues.”

“Instead of always being in crisis mode,” Mike agreed. He hugged his wife. “You’re a great PT, and you have a great practice. But it’s growing and you need to grow with it. Or at least your software does.”

What combination of automation and human efforts will improve workflow in Shannon’s practice?

Disclaimer: For HIPAA compliance, all characters appearing in this post are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons or actual events is purely coincidental.