Patient Visits as Business Meetings? Maybe.
Treat appointments like business meetings? (Don't worry I'm not advocating treating patient like products! Read on...)
Today, our leadership team had a conversation about running effective meetings. Although we had slightly different perspectives on how to accomplish this, we all agreed that the foundation of productive meetings is the meeting agenda. Without agendas, meetings can quickly devolve into unproductive chitty-chat, leaving everyone wondering, “what did we just decide?” or “I’m not really sure what I’m supposed to do next.”
This conversation got me thinking about routine patient care. When a patient visits their healthcare provider, we call that going for an exam or a visit or an appointment. We don’t say that they’re having a “meeting” with their physician. Why not? Isn’t a patient visit really just a meeting, albeit a very, very important one?
For argument’s sake, let’s think about a patient visit like we would a business meeting and apply some of the same rules we expect in the work environment, like:
- Come prepared
- Have an agenda (including a plan for “next steps”)
- Make good use of time
If this approach seems unattainable, it’s not. The workflows and the tools needed to support this approach exist today; all you’ll need is a shift in your mindset and, help from a happy little healthfinch named Charlie.
Let’s take a look at how Charlie, our practice automation platform, can help you turn routine patient visits into highly efficient and meaningful meetings. Charlie’s “scout” function is a robust pre-visit planning tool that helps patients, providers and their staff come prepared to appointments with an agenda.
As the patient’s scheduled appointment comes due, Charlie scouts the patient chart to find out what labs or activities would be helpful to complete in advance of the visit. For a 40-year-old woman who is on lipitor and has a family history of breast cancer, Charlie helps both the patient and the clinical staff prepare by teeing up lab and mammography orders, then notifying the patient to come in a few days before the visit. He can “chirp” to her directly by sending a letter and can also ping the scheduling staff to give her a friendly reminder call.
As her labs are completed and results come in, Charlie can gather results until the day of the patient visit. Either way, the clinic staff now has the patient’s most recent results at the ready for her upcoming meeting. Simply put, the staff is now fully prepared for their meeting with this patient.
Have an Agenda
With her pre-visit diagnostics complete, the patient shows up at her appointment and is pleasantly surprised that her provider is running on time. (When Charlie’s taking care of clinic busywork, providers and staff are better able to stay on schedule-more on that in our next blog).
The patient’s check-in prompts Charlie to populate chart notes with all the relevant data and create an agenda for her meeting with her provider. Although practices can customize the protocols and workflows that drive Charlie’s work, a typical agenda, like a business meeting agenda may include:
- Review lab and diagnostic results
- Review and renew active medications
- Discuss any new health concerns
- Take care of any point-of-care procedures (like vaccines)
- Decide next steps and follow-up activities, if appropriate
Make Good Use of Time
When Charlie takes care of the busywork associated with chart review/prep and successfully nudges patients to complete pre-visit work, healthcare meetings become incredibly productive. Less time needs to be spent clicking around the EMR or discussing “what if” scenarios based on future lab results. Instead, more time can be spent reviewing new or persisting health concerns, educating on the care plan, and strengthening the bond between provider and patient.
In this model, everyone is prepared and organized, and when that happens, it’s much easier to run on time. If you’ve ever been in a business meeting, you’ll know how refreshing this is!