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Partners in Practice

May 4, 2017

Practice Tip: Streamline Office Processes by Prompting Patient Action


By: Brandon LaGreca, CAc, MAcOM

My office manager did something brilliant the other day. She figured out a clever way to maximize patient participation at our clinic for a specific task. Let me explain and you’ll quickly see how your patients can become active contributors, lightening the load for you and your front desk staff.

Once a year, our clinic hosts a patient appreciation month during which any appointment or supplement purchase qualifies the patient to enter a raffle for prizes. We promote this event in our clinic newsletter, on social media, and with a display set up on a side table close to the front desk.

Despite all this, patients typically walk right past the display on their way out and miss a chance to enter the drawing. To compensate, we started reminding patients to register as they checked out, but at busy moments the receptionist would occasionally forget.

Never wanting patients to miss out, I encouraged my front desk staff to place a sticky note on the computer monitor as a reminder to them to remind patients! Even then, over the years a number of different staff members neglected to mention the raffle as it simply is not part of the routine duties when checking out a patient. Even the brightest-colored note can fall to the background of one’s consciousness when there are a number of people waiting and the phone is ringing.

Here’s where the brilliant part comes in. For our last patient appreciation month, I again encouraged the office manager to place a sticky note on the front desk monitor, only this time she stuck the note to the back of the monitor so that patients could read the note. Can you guess what happened? Compliance shot through the roof as patients either walked directly over to the raffle table after reading, “Did you enter the RAFFLE?” or asked about the raffle if they were unfamiliar with it.

Placing a note in a different spot sounds simple (and it is), but what my office manager figured out was an easy way to get patients involved in the process, essentially freeing her from the task.

Another example of patient involvement that we have used in the clinic is the posting of our new-patient paperwork on our website. Whenever the front desk schedules a new patient, we invite that person to visit our website, click on the “New Patient” tab, and follow the instructions to print and fill out the paperwork prior to the first appointment. This has the added bonus of getting patients to browse our website, where they can learn more about our services and sign up for our newsletter.

Every so often someone either forgets to bring the paperwork with or wishes to have a hard copy mailed, but the vast majority of the time patients come prepared, which has likely saved us a significant number of ink cartridges over the years.

More importantly, patients are being educated to become active participants in the clinic experience and, by extension, their health outcomes.

One mark of a successful clinic is a set of policies and systems to streamline tasks. In many cases, technology and automation have provided an additional element of productivity. I encourage you to think about your patients as being a cogwheel in the inner workings of your clinic and have them add efficiency to your clinic just as surely as you add value to their lives.

Brandon LaGreca is a 2005 graduate of the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, a certified acupuncturist in the state of Wisconsin, and nationally certified in the practice of Oriental medicine. He lives and works in East Troy, Wisconsin, where he directs an integrative medical clinic. He also provides acupuncture services to employees at Standard Process corporate headquarters. Brandon is a thought leader in the synthesis of traditional and functional medicine, having authored numerous articles on the subject. He enjoys educating patients by blogging on his clinic’s East Troy Acupuncture website.

Opinions and methods presented in this article are those of the author and not representative of any Standard Process view or position.

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