Quick, easy steps can improve efficiency in your practice

April 1, 2008

Improving efficiency in the medical office is a major challenge because it often involves spending less time on individual tasks or learning to multitask.

Key Points

Easier communication

Every urologist has experienced the situation of being eyeball to eyeball with a patient when the nurse or receptionist interrupts to tell you that you have a call from the operating room, a referring physician, or a pharmacist. We are hardly efficient when we are interrupted to take phone calls, sign sample receipts from pharmaceutical representatives, or answer questions from our staff. Patients do not appreciate this discourteous behavior.

Here's another scenario that robs you of efficiency: You are in the room with a patient and you need a piece of equipment or some supplies, so you open the door and ask the nurse to answer your request. No one hears you, so you raise your voice a few decibels until someone responds. All of this takes time and doesn't enhance the relationship between you and your patient.

Using two-way radios in the office is an easy, inexpensive solution to this problem. The radios are small, lightweight, and are worn on the belt or scrub suit. An optional ear bud and a speaker hang at the level of your tie or collar. When a staff member needs to reach you, instead of knocking on the door or calling you on the intercom, she can call you on the radio. The ear bud/microphone allows you to discreetly listen to the message and whisper a response. There is little or no patient interruption and your staff does not have to look for you or open multiple exam room doors to find you. At the same time, the physician does not have to search for a staff member when an urgent need presents itself.

A number of brands and types of two-way radios are available. We suggest the Motorola Talkabout FV200R system. These inexpensive devices can be operated without a license on the Family Radio Service channels, or with a license-and have a much longer range-on the included General Mobile Radio Service channels. These radios sell for about $27.00 per pair, and are rechargeable. We also recommend the headsets containing the ear bud/microphone combination ( http://www.customearpiece.com/dental.html, choose Motorola Talkabout). The setup is as simple as plugging the headset into the radio and explaining how you want the system used with your staff. We have used the radios at low volume without the ear bud and have found them to be quite satisfactory.