When choosing new software, the healthcare practice is usually very keen to implement all the bells and whistles of the software, immediately having the benefit of all the great new features that prompted the practitioner to obtain the software in the first place. However, as the years continue, if new software features get overlooked, the practice can find itself in a situation where the management of the practice becomes unnecessarily tedious.
As practices grow, more and more work needs to be done by fewer hands, and essential tasks, such as managing outstanding debts, get placed on the back burner. As a result, higher overheads and lack of proper resource management often lead to loss of income that the practice could have used to further its endeavours.
More and more practices are moving towards a paperless environment, which has the benefit of using fewer storage facilities, working from any place at any time, and reducing the risk of information loss or unauthorised access. In addition, human error as a result of data duplication or sloppy administration is eliminated.
The wins and challenges of new feature implementation
Software companies always continue to develop their software and make new features available to keep up with the times. There are a lot of wins as a result of development. New features are developed to make the practice management easier and more efficient, leaving staff to get more work done more accurately. This often results in cost savings and the reduction of risks.
Unfortunately, the elephant in the room also needs to be addressed. There are not only wins but also teething problems with the continued development and implementation of new features. For example, it can lead to slower work performance at the beginning of implementation or create bugs that strain the standard workflow and create frustration. This reality sometimes produces the unwillingness on the part of the practice to embrace change.
Change management strategies
Practices will do well to adopt well-planned change management strategies so that their practice management will not become stale and outdated.
Firstly, all stakeholders, including owners and personnel, should collaborate on how they want to move forward and what could benefit the practice as a whole. When the personnel are on board with continuous incremental improvement, it will avoid sabotage of the process and provide job security in people’s minds. It is incredulous that personnel would stop progress because of a fear of losing their jobs since if their time is spent better, they would have the ability to complete those tasks that they put on the back burner.
Secondly, a process audit should be conducted so that the current processes can be evaluated and new opportunities for optimisation can be recognised. For example, investigate
- Who does what and are there overlaps in the tasks between different role players?
- Which processes manual that could be automated?
- Which paperwork can be digitised?
- Which communication channels can be optimised?
- How can the practice cut down on administrative tasks that could be improved or automated?
The list goes on.
Thirdly, an action plan should be designed in terms of which the practice
- Can work with their software provider to identify and implement changes
- Can provide proper training to employees so that the new processes can be implemented without too much strain on the workflow
- A continued effort of improvement can be sustained.
The desired outcome
Once change management and optimisation become the new culture in the practice, the benefits will be huge.
There will be extra time to finish the tasks that are crucial but not always urgent. Personnel will experience less stress in the workplace since tedious tasks like duplication of information will be eliminated. The practice can implement better security to protect personal information, and healthcare information will become accessible to practitioners wherever their work leads them, be it a clinic or home office.
The practice will also experience a reduction of costs since the roles in the practice can be optimised, and stationery and storage costs can be reduced or eliminated. No business wants to carry unnecessary expenses, and using the software to the full will, in the long run, open up resources that can be used to grow the practice.
Every healthcare practice should embrace change and manage it well so that future endeavours can be undertaken with less stress, fewer costs and less frustration. However, if change seems like more effort, let the final outcome of lightweight practice management move you toward the necessary change and allow you to focus on what is really important – your patients.