Do you wear all the hats at your office? Or maybe you are considering downsizing?
With all of the pandemic chaos, you might be having trouble finding staff for your office. Believe it or not, it is possible to run a chiropractic office without any staff at all! I know it sounds like a scary idea, but stick around if you want some tips on things you can do to set yourself up for success with a fully automated business! If you don’t want to be completely staff-less, these tips can still help you automate certain duties so that your staff can focus on other tasks.
So first, let’s break it down a bit. What are the typical duties you hire staff for in the first place? Most offices start off by hiring a front desk person. This staff member is typically in charge of things like scheduling, payments, and patient flow. We can automate almost all of these duties so your practice can run more efficiently.
For scheduling and communication, you can easily set that up on your website. Most chiropractic office software companies offer this feature, so it is already HIPPA protected communication. So, when a patient wants to make an appointment, it will just take a few clicks and no phone answering required! You can set up your software to ask questions to the patients (new or returning) so the system knows how much time to give them for their appointment. The system also allows patients to change or cancel their appointments. This type of software also has features like automated text messaging and/or email reminders (with option to cancel via text) that can be really helpful for same-day appointment changes. Auto responses are great because you never miss connecting with patients when you are busy. If you set up a new patient on a care plan, they can also pre-book the next few follow up appointments to make it easier for both of you! I have a handful of patients that are very set in their routines. These types of patients prefer to come for their treatments on the same day and time each week, and they really enjoy being able to pre-book these online. This step is crucial, and would be the first thing I would recommend setting up!
Now let’s quickly touch on another type of scheduling. Since you are wearing all of the hats in the office, you want to make sure your daily schedule is maximized efficiently. Remember, you have to schedule time in your day to get your administrative work done. If you take insurance at your office, you will probably need extra time to do your billing and fill out other paperwork. You want to schedule out time for this during your workday so you don’t have to take your work home. If you’re like most people, work-life balance is important, so set your hours and make boundaries. Most importantly, stick to them! Some docs will try to squeeze in the admin work in between patients, but I find it more beneficial to set aside a chunk of time in your day to get this done. This will also allow for fewer distractions and therefore fewer mistakes. Making errors on insurance paperwork and having to resubmit will add a lot of extra time and work down the road.
Another piece of advice is to automate your check-in and check out processes to help with patient flow. When patients arrive, you can have them check-in on an I-Pad that is also connected to your EHR and scheduling software. It would also be helpful to use a credit card processing system that allows you to keep cards on file. This allows for a quick checkout process if the patient hasn’t already paid through your website.
Most of these communication platforms and software also give you analytics and feedback that highlight trend data. This information can help you set a more efficient schedule, as it will show you things like the busiest days/times and the trends in patient cancellations. While services like this can cost a few hundred dollars per month, they will also save you a few hours each day. Those hours can be spent treating more patients or submitting bills to insurance companies. Therefore, it will be money well spent and can actually help you make more money. If your office is open 5 days per week, this type of service will cost you about $20 per day or $2.50 and hour. This is much more cost effective than having your office fully staffed. A popular company for this that a lot of health professionals use is called Weave Communications. Check it out if you want more information!
Lastly, If you are interested in opening a practice by yourself, or you need to downsize your staff, I highly suggest you check out a book called Staffless by Dr. Jodi Dinnerman. This book goes into greater detail about front desk solutions for solo practitioners.
It may take a little more time to set everything up initially, but if you set all your systems up properly, it will save you so much time in the long run. Remember, automation is key. Don’t be afraid to fly solo, Doc!
Dr. Jade Thompson DC