As a DPC doc, time is on your side. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do everything in your power to manage it effectively. Tasks like handling off-hours communication, or sending effective and quick email responses can be streamlined to make sure you have time for everything. Here are a few tips to help make sure you have a leg up on your time management instead of the other way around.
Do your patients follow up on their own emails?
If your patients send emails, and then follow up with questions, perhaps there’s more you can do to make your response to them robust and comprehensive. Anticipate their needs, and include more information than they’ve asked for. Go a step above and beyond what they’re expecting. Speak human, not doctor. You went to medical school, not your patients! Use simplified terms, and include links to more in-depth explanation where applicable. Here’s a great resource to make each and every email you send infinitely better, from your word choice, to tone, to the actual content of your message.
Do you send the same email time and time again?
Your patients have lots of questions, and it’s great that you’re available to answer them all. But those questions become repetitive and before long you find yourself typing the same response over and over. Something’s gotta give, right? Use text snippets to reduce the time you spend responding while still maintaining your email’s integrity. Tools like Breevy integrate with your operating system to abbreviate bits of content, and then automatically expand into an entire paragraph. Essentially, it works just like macros in the Atlas.md EMR if you’re familiar. Super handy, quick, and accurate!
Are you overwhelmed by off-hours communication?
If you’re getting tons of messages during your off hours (like at night, or on the weekends) there are things you can do to help manage this communication. Keep in mind your patients should feel free to communicate with you however they’re most comfortable, but there’s nothing wrong with letting them know the best way to reach you in certain circumstances. For example, encourage emails and phone calls vs text messages, which can be difficult to track and respond to. Also, look for patterns to messages that come in on days when you’re not in the clinic – and try to address accordingly. Finally, encourage patients to email you for longer messages, which will ensure you can flag the email to address thoroughly when you’re able.
If you’re getting too many text messages, you could reply to texts by email to help train the patients on the best way to communicate during your off hours. Are you using the Atlas.md EMR? If so, you can set up a text message auto-responder asking patients to email during your clinic’s off hours. Share your time-saving tips over here on the forum.
These small potatoes will add up to more time savings and a better experience for your patients. Not that you’ll need help filling up the many, many minutes you’re sparing by streamlining, but clearing your inbox definitely helps clear your head for the proactive and intensive research you’re about to do on your patient’s diagnosis…