PA & NP Efficiency Tips
I absolutely love talking about efficiency. It’s basically my jam. I’ve been told I’m a very efficient provider, and I love helping others maximize their time - especially since as providers, we don't have the luxury of an abundance of time.
In my opinion, efficiency issues are the crux of burnout situations. Clinicians have an endless sea of work, but getting things done in a timely manner means you make it home for balance. In turn, you're happier in your career, you’re happy in your personal life, your family/friends are happy, and you can start the next day with a clean slate.
What is Efficiency in Practice?
First, let's define efficiency. Google says efficiency is “achieving maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense.”
But, how does that apply to clinical practice? "In healthcare, clinical efficiency is defined as how well resources are used to meet needs or demands. Needs and demands are twofold in a clinical setting. Patients have needs that should be met by the care provider and the provider has needs related to running a profitable business." (prognocis.com)
That sounds amazing! But how do we do it?
9 Tips to Clinical Efficiency
I’m going to share some tips with you, and in the true spirit of efficiency, I’ll keep this short and sweet.
If you find yourself doing or writing the same thing repeatedly, create a system for it! Use smart texts, macro texts, templates, or word documents (copy and paste). Remember, the cardinal rule of efficiency is that little things add up. Save your time and your fingers.
Time management… it MATTERS! Time is precious. Clinic time is no different. While you’re waiting for an EKG to be done, start seeing your next patient, tackle your inbox/labs, or chart on patients. Recognize idle time and minimize it. Trust me, I’d LOVE to catch up on the latest Bravo show with co-workers, but turns out, I like getting home earlier way more. Tuck away social media, and limit texts and personal calls. Your more efficient self will thank you for it.
Start your day on a positive note. If possible, get to work earlier! Have time to huddle with your team, look at your schedule, and tackle your inbox. Try to avoid rushing into work right before your first patient. Feeling flustered and behind schedule first thing in the morning is awful.
Prepare for your next visit by reviewing previous notes, labs, etc. If you can start pre-charting, even better! Not only will your patients appreciate your preparedness, but you already have a leg up on your assessment/plan and chart.
Get to know your EMR and learn to love it. There are many ways the EMR saves time! Utilize templates, macro texts, electronic rx, etc. If you repeatedly run into issues with your system, either call them directly or have someone in your office do so. Don’t just succumb to doing workarounds.
Avoid over-ordering! When patients are challenging, and you don’t know what’s wrong, it’s easy to order a battery of tests. Although, remember, each test you order needs interpretation! You may uncover an insignificant finding, but it ultimately necessitates more workup, time, resources, and money. Aim for targeted testing.
Have a system in place for consulting. If you need to consult with another provider, have a plan in place for how to contact them. Avoid waiting around in the hallway or knocking on their door. Systems I have used include texting, sticky notes, and notifying their medical assistant.
Delegate, delegate, delegate! We should all aim to work at the top of our licenses. Similarly, as clinicians, this means doing the work only a provider can do. Utilize your support staff whenever possible.
Of course, I saved the best for last. The biggest piece of advice I have is to complete your charting in a timely manner. Ideally at the time of the visit. I think this can be done tactfully and you can positively involve the patient. For instance, tilt the screen so the patient can see what you’re writing. Consider reading the plan out loud while the patient can see it on the screen. Send your electronic scripts while in the room (patients love this). Waiting until the end of the day to complete your charts essentially means you are doing the work twice. Not to mention, it’s hard to remember patient specifics and billing particulars.
Don’t forget, although we want to be as efficient as possible, it cannot compromise patient care. We still need to have meaningful interactions with patients and staff.
That’s all for now. I wish you the best of luck in your efficiency journey!
Meet Class Leader & Speaker Melissa MacKinnon, DNP, FNP-BC
Melissa, MacKinnon, DNP, FNP-BC is a Class Leader at ThriveAP and speaks in our primary care upper respiratory and ENT block.
Melissa has been a nurse practitioner since 2009. She earned her nursing degree in 2006 then went on to obtain her Master’s and Doctorate degrees from the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus. As an Advanced Practice Provider, she has worked in both primary care and ENT settings. In addition to being a class leader for ThriveAP, she is currently practicing in the primary care realm. Melissa is passionate about furthering the profession of the advanced practice provider and is truly devoted to helping patients feel their best. She has been a guest speaker for ThriveAP for several years and is thrilled to have a more permanent position. When she is not working, she is spending time with her husband, son, and their family and friends. As a true Colorado native, she enjoys all things outdoors. Melissa loves music, good food, traveling, exercising, laughing, and painting.
If you're interested in learning directly from experts, like Melissa, apply for the ThriveAP program today!