Full Utilization of Your Care Team

An important aspect of not only practice efficiency, but also individual provider efficiency is proper utilization of resources. In today’s post, I want to look specifically at physician extenders, and how their role can impact everyone at the practice. From physicians to schedulers, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the goals that providers have when scheduling visits. These goals will look different for everyone and can be anything from distributing complex patients throughout the day to a dynamic shift in payer mix. Regardless of what these goals are, there is value to be found in making sure that every visit is scheduled with the provider that is best fit to see that visit type.

What we have found when talking to practices about scheduling difficulties, is that in a lot of instances, patient visits will be scheduled with a physician when in fact, it might be better suited for a nurse practitioner or physician assistant. Understandably, this leaves the physicians with less time on their schedules to accommodate patients that might need services that an extender is unable to provide – causing the patient to go elsewhere for care – or, having a decreased likelihood of surgical conversion on any patient visit. It’s helpful to make sure that extenders are being scheduled to treat patients to the top of their degree.

In some cases, the patient themself might make a specific request for the physician because they haven’t met or are unfamiliar with their physician’s extenders. This is a great opportunity for doctors to introduce these individuals as part of a “care team.” This way, patients are given the expectation that certain future visits – such as follow-ups, etc. – will be scheduled with the PA or the NP that they now know and have laid eyes on. Utilizing these small internal marketing functions within practices can make a world of difference as far as scheduling, but also leave the patient feeling more at ease knowing that every member of their care team is familiar with their circumstances.

Any number of things can be the root cause of underutilized extenders. With these difficulties in mind, we hope to emphasize the concept of guided scheduling that is offered through Opargo, which would benefit situations like these. The automation of patient visit routing to the appropriate provider would give schedulers a list of scheduling options that help to ensure that provider goals are met efficiently. For example, Opargo will return appointments for both the physician and the nurse practitioner, but if the NP can see a patient tomorrow, and the doctor is booked until 21 days from now, the scheduler can offer the sooner appointment, and patients will typically jump at the opportunity.

These benefits will be felt practice-wide and help give everyone a better understanding of what it looks like to properly utilize all of the available resources. High-need patients will be able to see their physician, and the physicians themselves will be able to provide better-focused care to each one. It’s a win for everyone!