Globally, there is pressure to get as many clients/patients treated as possible with the same number of staff and resources. The reason for this is that getting trained audiological staff is difficult and expensive and the market is growing. This means an increased focus on efficient operations in the retail sector, in hospitals and other public clinics where hearing loss is detected and treated.
3 Ways To Improve Resource Utilization
We have to make sure that the audiologists spend their time where it matters, which is with the hearing-impaired people, and that they deliver high-quality treatment to these people. So, the next question is then – how to do that?
1️⃣ Optimize Your Schedule In Terms Of Staff And Resources Utilization
Schedule optimization is often overlooked when streamlining resources. However, it can be the best way to increase throughput and flow of clients/patients. The focus of optimizing schedules for hearing care, both in retail and public, must always be on face-to-face time with the clients – either in person or remotely. Our Practice Management Software offers a next-gen scheduler that will guide you to optimize the way you utilize your employees, facilities, and equipment.
→ Segment appointments: You should always start by segmenting your bookings to not spend the same amount of time with each person. The best way to break up a schedule is using 15-minute blocks; 15 minutes is often enough to cover a service call. Therefore, it is the shortest possible appointment and an ideal time block to be bundled together. For instance, book 30 minutes for wax removal, and an hour or an hour and 15 minutes for an initial consultation. You can also consider varying the time spent with the clients on a first appointment depending on age and expectations from the hearing test.
→ Split tasks between staff: In clinics, as well as in hospitals, you must free up time for the scarcest resources. If it is the audiologists, make sure that these spend the time where they can fully use their capabilities and free them up from other operational or low-level clinical tasks. If it is the facilities that are scarce, break up the appointment into modules so you only reserve the facility you need for a limited time.
→ Block the calendars: Just booking in blindness does not work. Ensure that there is always room for longer appointments and that there are no empty spaces in the calendars between the appointments. The most efficient way to do this is by blocking the calendars for the longer appointments first and filling in with the short ones. That way, you will reserve time for the longer ones which are usually the most difficult to schedule.
→ Train your booking staff: The bookers must have access to a central scheduler and know when to book which appointments with clients/patients. Housing your scheduler in the cloud is a smart way to provide central access, especially if you have multiple clinics or audiologists. This also allows your booking staff to easily (and securely) access the schedule from home if there’s a snowstorm, COVID-19 outbreak, or other event that requires the clinic to close and appointments to be rescheduled.
2️⃣ Only People With Hearing Loss Get To Spend Time With Audiologists
One of the biggest bottlenecks is the audiologists’ time. We need to make sure that every client/patient they meet needs a treatment. There are two ways of doing this – these are not mutually exclusive.
Qualify each client on the phone before you book a timeslot. Why do they think they have hearing loss? What do they experience in their daily life and how is this affecting them? If they answer the questions in a way that indicates they have hearing loss, you can book a longer appointment with an audiologist. If the answers are insufficient, book a shorter appointment and set time to assess the hearing loss at the beginning to not spend precious time on people with normal hearing. The best way to ensure that this standard is followed is by training all bookers in qualifying the clients/patients and including a line of questions they should ask to make sure the qualification is sufficient.