Streamlining workloads to enable doctors to operate more efficiently and effectively is an enormous challenge.
While it is said that doctors in Australia work around 35-38 hours per week, many work a great deal more, as demand for patient care grows against a shortage of qualified GPs.
In addition, many junior doctors have reported working beyond 50 hours a week in a bid to fast track their qualifications.
Overworked doctors tend to be prime candidates for burnout.
This can lead to time off or even resignations, ultimately putting more pressure on the health system.
Managing time better to reduce workloads and the stress that accompanies it is the key to allowing doctors to work more efficiently and effectively.
But how do you do it?
It takes some organisation and discipline but the rewards are significant.
Here’s what you should be thinking about.
Many doctors, particularly seniors ones, see themselves as ‘old dogs’ and the latest software tailor-made for medical practices as ‘new tricks’.
They continue to persevere with cards, files, papers and notes, losing significant time in the process.
The latest IT systems streamline workflows and save valuable time across your business.
This includes both electronic health records (EHRs), telemedicine to conduct remote consultations and medical appointment software including mobile apps to manage tasks and schedules.
It can be intimidating learning to use new software at first.
But it is worthwhile to invest in yourself and your business by taking the time to fully understand its power and nuances.
Engage in additional training for you and your staff if necessary until you are up to speed.
Set up a digital portal and encourage patients to use it for bookings, saving the business even more time.
Build and rely on your support team
Every great practice is built around a great team that supports all of its doctors.
A well-organized practice manager should lead a support team that ensures the whole practice runs smoothly and more efficiently.
There are many tasks that need to be performed every day in a medical practice that don’t need to be done by a doctor.
Lean on your support staff to handle non-clinical jobs.
These include basic preparation of rooms and cleaning up, scheduling of appointments, answering phone calls and managing paperwork.
Doctors average 51 minutes on paperwork every day.
Embracing technology and delegating duties can significantly reduce that time, allowing you to spend more time with patients or for yourself.
Doctors have a reputation for being disorganised and it’s no wonder given the myriad of tasks which often need attention all at once.
Prioritize your workload based on urgency and importance and create a ‘to do’ list to ensure nothing is overlooked.
Adopt the ‘two-minute rule’ to help clear any backlog quickly – attend to all of the tasks that take less than two minutes.
Don’t try to do it all. Adopt a team-based approach.
Work with other healthcare professionals such as nurses, pharmacists and social workers, directing your patients where appropriate to benefit them and ease your own workload.
Provide clear communications and share critical information with allied health professionals (AHPs) such as physiotherapists, psychologists and dieticians to ensure your patients receive the highest standards of coordinated and specialised care.
Set time limits
In an ideal world, doctors wouldn’t have to worry about limiting the time of appointments.
But the days of doctors regularly running half an hour late are long gone.
Limits need to be set and observed for the efficiency and integrity of the business.
If that means reminding some patients who may be serial offenders of those limits, then so be it.
There will always be exceptions but as a general rule, it is important to honour the clock for everyone’s sake, yours included.
Take care of yourself
You’ll never be able to work at full capacity if you are not looking after yourself.
That means eating well, keeping fit, getting enough sleep and spending enough time away from the practice.
Work-life balance is important to ensure you are mentally prepared for the ‘work’ aspect of that equation and to guard against doctor burnout.
Use evidence-based guidelines
Evidence-based guidelines are designed to provide patients with the most effective care by actioning plans that respond to the best available evidence rather than intuition and guesswork.
EBPs also ensure that the time of finite health resources is used effectively and the money of funding health services is used wisely.
Good doctors never stop learning.
Medicine as well as the latest advice, guidelines and techniques are constantly evolving.
By attending conferences, participating in online courses and staying current with the latest research, you’ll stay ahead of the curve, operating more efficiently and effectively.
You’ll also ensure you remain relevant in your field, rather than overtaken by hungrier, younger doctors.
Join a well managed clinic
Are you looking for a fresh start in a clinic that embraces the latest technologies and provides their doctors with the very best equipment, allowing them to work more efficiently and effectively?
Our purpose built, state-of-the-art facilities utilise natural light and make coming to work here a pleasure.
At AHA Clinics, we also support our doctors both professionally and personally.
And we encourage them to find a work-life balance that suits them.
Life-changing opportunities are yours for the taking at Seaford.
We are situated in the heart of Adelaide’s southern beaches.
You can maximise your income and then unwind, enjoying all the perks the coastal lifestyle has to offer.
If this sounds attractive, we’d love to hear from you.
Our team is on hand, ready to answer all of your questions.
But don’t take our word for it!
We can put you in touch with some of our resident doctors for a more personal perspective of what it’s like to work here at Seaford.
Our AHA leadership team will contact you soon to arrange a no obligation discussion.