3 Essential Tools To Improve Hearing Care Resource Utilization Auditdata

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3 Essential Ways to Improve Resource Utilization

In this blog, we have suggested 3 ways for hearing care providers to improve resource utilization without sacrificing the quality of testing and treating hearing-impaired people.

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.

In private hearing clinics, the industry is growing worldwide as the market is expanding. The solution for many retailers to comply with this is to open more clinics. But opening new clinics (or acquiring them) is expensive and a hassle to get started. Each time you open a new clinic, you start from scratch. Moreover, there is a lack of trained audiologists in most countries meaning that staffing is costly and difficult. So, what can you do to get more clients through your clinics? 

In hospital hearing care, the picture is similar. There are waiting lists for hearing treatment, and the audiologists in the clinics struggle to get all their patients treated. But do all patients need to see an audiologist to get going in the hospital system? And how can we get more patients through the tight bottlenecks of staff, budgets, and resources in the hospitals?

                                                            

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.

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How to Boost Revenue with Resource Optimization

With a few simple adjustments to your schedule or diary, you can get much more out of your existing resources and focus more on the clients. The following E-book outlines 5 steps to implement that maximizes revenue, delivers opportunities, and visualizes all staff and resource availability. 

Learn more

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.

➡ Questions To Ask:

  • Do you have hearing aids today?​
  • When did you get the hearing aids?​
  • Have you had your hearing tested before?​
  • Is anyone telling you, that you don’t hear well?​
  • Do you hear well in noisy surroundings?​
  • Do mind me asking how old you are?
3 Essential Ways to Improve Resource Utilization

Secondly, you should assess all clients’ hearing loss before they get an appointment with the audiologists. This will make sure that there is hearing loss, and it is then up to the audiologist to decide how to treat this. A hearing assessment can easily be done by using a quick test. As written above, especially if the answers from the qualifying questions are not clear, it might be a good idea to start the appointment with a 2-minute scan of the hearing. The good thing about a quick screener is that there is no need to spend time with a trained audiologist, because all staff can be trained to instruct the patients in how to use the screener.

3️⃣  The Same Optimized Standard Of Audiological Testing Is Used Every Time

To optimize performance in both time usage and quality outcome of the hearing evaluation, it is recommended to have a standard testing procedure (and optimized regularly). This procedure should be based on a best practice, meaning that all staff will follow a recommended and agreed workflow. Again, this is the best solution for both hospitals and private clinics. If you automate the clinical workflows, this will ensure that the processes are actually followed, which will save time and elevate patient care. 

For the audiologists, this means that they are certain of what to do and will be guided through each step. It is also easier to onboard new staff to a clinic if the softwares support them and nudge them to do the right things, including if there is a deviation from the standard.

For the heads of audiology/clinic-owners, this means that they can monitor the performance of the staff from a central hold and benchmark performance. Our Measure Software will give them access to performance reports that can be used to understand the as-is and prepare the future. Knowing which audiologist is doing the best will help to improve the workflows and convince other staff members to change their processes, as needed.

Staff shortages are a huge issue across multiple industries right now, including audiology.  As a result, it’s critical to optimize your staff’s time and make sure your audiologists are being well-utilized. Automated tools, including a centralized scheduler and performance reports, will allow you to maximize efficiency, utilize staff wisely, streamline workflows, review performance by clinic and/or audiologist, and make adjustments, as needed, based on data. These efforts will be essential to improving your resource utilization for better business performance and improved patient care.

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