Medical Office Must-Haves: Three Key Things You May Have Overlooked
Whether you manage an established medical practice or are in the process of opening a new location, it’s important to create a professional office environment. Focus on the three aspects that customers notice most.
Before a patient even enters your doors, they expect a medical office to be three things: organized, private, and clean. These three qualities go a long way in creating a trusting patient-physician relationship.
An organized medical office is an efficient one. Keep operations running smoothly by staying ahead of inventory and healthcare documentation requirements. Purchasing supplies should be an after-thought for everyone in the office except the office manager.
Here are a few must-haves to consider:
Compliant Claim Forms
When billing claim forms are revised, the transition time permitted between versions is typically short. You’ll need to first stock the new forms and then train administrative staff to complete them properly.
For example, NUCC recently revised the CMS-1500 claim form. Both old (08/05) and new (02/12) versions will be accepted, but only between January 6, 2014 and March 31, 2014. Your staff will have only three months to learn and fully comply with new diagnosis documentation.
Stocking the new claim forms in advance, along with the physician order forms, patient sign-ins, prescription blanks, and all the other healthcare forms that are needed regularly, will save on shipping costs and ensure that inventory never runs dry.
Organization is crucial in a busy medical office. Having to search for patient files creates a bottleneck in your office workflow. Items used frequently, like manila folders and medical chart folders, should be filed using a simple, standardized filing system.
Whether your office uses end tab or top tab file folders, filing accessories such as conversion tabs and labels allow you to reuse folders. Expanding file pockets and file fasteners allow you to add onto the files you currently use without shuffling, and possibly disrupting, patient files.
Storage boxes, filing cabinets, and shelf filing systems must be organized logically for ease-of-use. Any staff member or physician in your practice should be able to quickly locate files and file them again properly. Documents must always be placed in the same location throughout the office workflow.
Privacy is important for both customer service and legality. Colorful chart labels act as high-visibility warnings for critical patient information, like allergy alerts, without giving away HIPAA protected information. Labeling can also be used to color-code files, alerting staff to different types of insurance. Confidential sign-in sheets protect patient privacy during appointments.
For the typical medical office, a business-grade shredder is generally best, but considerations such as who will be shredding the documents, office size, and expected shredding volume may alter that decision. Regardless of what size shredder you end up choosing, a crosscut shredder is preferred over a strip shredder. A crosscut shredder irretrievably destroys documents, a measure to prevent HIPAA security violations.
In many medical offices, the majority of attention is given to the medical supplies needed on the doctors’ side, and maintenance supplies needed for every type of business are given little, if any, thought. A tidy, hygienic patient area lends a sense of security before the patient ever sees his or her physician. Toilet paper, paper towels, soap dispensaries, and cleaning supplies can be obtained at facility supply shops, with broader options in pricing and scheduled deliveries.