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Medical Knowledge Management in the Healthcare Industry

“If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive.” Lew Platt, former CEO, Hewlett-Packard

Platt’s words illustrate the importance of knowledge management. Take a moment and honestly ask yourself – how well do you truly know what your employees know? Identifying which staff members know specific information and the best ways to share that information is necessary for all medical practices. This process of recording, sharing, and effectively using organizational knowledge is especially critical as your practice grows. Whether a staff member is a new hire or a long-standing employee, having defined processes will help with continuity of service and aid in avoiding the problems that can arise when an integral member of your staff leaves. You won’t be left wondering, “How do we do this?”

In order to collect all of the organizational knowledge within your practice, it is necessary to:

  • Identify your current processes; assess what should stay the same, what should change and what should be added to the process to make it more productive.
  • Identify which processes within your practice are related. If you make a change to the way your office appointments are scheduled, does that affect your surgical schedule as well? It’s important to identify these relationships before anything new is implemented.
  • If you have a member of your staff with a lot of practice knowledge, involve them in the creation and implementation of these processes. Work with your staff to ensure that knowledge is passed on and recorded. You do not want to rely on staff members having specific pieces of information committed to memory. Keep in mind that anything not documented will be gone should they leave the practice.

When defining your processes, here are some areas to consider:

  • Identify what information is critical to your medical practice in order to schedule an appointment with the appropriate physician and the correct block of time. Staff should be made aware of questions to ask to assess appointment urgency and to gather information that may be important for billing purposes (such as a workers’ compensation patient).
  • The information entered into electronic health records (EHR’s) must be uniform. There are opportunities for staff to make use of fields within the EHR in a way that is inconsistent with how others are completing the record. Define what information goes in a given field and create a cheat sheet to keep records consistent.
  • Sharing insurance knowledge will help your staff and your patients. While you may have an expert on staff that is prepared to handle the more challenging insurance questions, it is worth the effort to document what they know. Use those details to educate your scheduling staff on basic insurance information such as which insurance companies you accept, what your policy is on co-pays and how out of network benefits work.
  • If your medical practice has offices in multiple locations, you likely have a central scheduling department responsible for booking appointments. Your scheduling staff must have a standardized set of processes and policies regarding scheduling to ensure that a given physician’s day is both balanced and optimized. This scheduling process needs to be conveyed to the office staff at the treatment office to avoid double booking or squeezing in cases unnecessarily.
  • Following up with your patients before their appointments is a critical step in avoiding missed appointments. Defining how patients will be notified of appointments and consistently applying the process will allow your staff to stay on top of all patient appointments regardless of who did the scheduling.

There are many areas within your business where knowledge is gained and needs to be identified, recorded and shared. If your medical practice would like to learn more about how to develop your organizational processes, contact us.

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