How to audit your front desk for efficiency and accuracy

A good front desk is invaluable, no matter what area of medicine you specialize in. The team you have at the desk can keep your practice running smoothly, or it can act as a jackhammer, making the road jagged and bumpy every step of the way.

At IPS, when we start working with a practice, one of the first things I recommend is to incorporate front desk audits. Audits help us see what’s working, what’s not, and how to improve performance to continually reach your practice’s goals.

WQUALITY CONTROL 6.1.16hat’s an audit, you ask? An audit is a quality control measure where you evaluate your processes to make sure they’re working properly. It’s kind of like a check-up for your front desk. Audits are necessary because a procedure might be working great one month but fall apart the next. So it’s important to continually audit your systems to make sure they’re working effectively.

The good news? You don’t need to monitor the front desk like a hawk in order for this to be effective.

 

Here are 7 simple steps for a successful audit process:

 

Tell your staff

The most important element of this is to make sure your team knows that you perform audits. First, because it’s only fair to let them know you’re going to be checking up on their performance. But second, it encourages them to be vigilant about correctness. Even if it’s just a handful of patients’ records that you’re checking, they’ll all of a sudden work harder to make sure they fill in those gaps to fill them in correctly.

Take a sample

You don’t need to check on every single patient file with an audit. In fact, it would be a waste of time to do so. So aim to look at 2-5% of patient files. So if you see 100 patients in a day, you’ll be auditing 2-5 of those files for completeness, correctness, and anything else that’s important to your business.

 

Schedule random audits

I recommend using random audits, which means that they’re performed at different days and times, so the staff member being audited won’t know it’s coming. But just because it’s “random” doesn’t mean it’s random for you, doc!

Because schedules get hectic, make sure you schedule your random audits in your calendar. They’re so important, so you must make time for them. Truly, if it’s done properly, an audit won’t take more than an hour, and once a week is sufficient. It’s an hour per week that’s well worth it!

 

Decide on your criteria

When it comes to audits, you must define what your standard is. What specifically are you measuring? How will you measure it?

For example, let’s say that you want to measure paperwork correctness as part of your audit. You’ll want to define how you will measure paperwork for completeness and accuracy and how you will check that the patient file has all necessary information.

You need to be specific with what criteria you will use in your audits and how you will measure it. Write this down, so you can easily reference it for future audits.

Record your audits

You’ll want to decide how you will record the results of your audits. I recommend having a spreadsheet you would utilize to record these audits. You want a place you can use to document the results of audits over time.

This allows you to see changes from week to week or month to month. If you notice that this number keeps increasing, or that you’ve never had an issue with this and all of a sudden you’ve got one or two errors in the process, that requires action. Having a consistent place where you record audit results helps identify when there are broken processes, or sometimes, broken people.

 

Determine when improvement is necessary

It’s important to objectively quantify when improvement is needed. What constitutes a pass or fail? Does your staff need to fulfill 100% of your criteria, or will 90% still be a passing grade?

Choosing a set passing score helps you to accurately see the holes in your processes and know when a person has failed the audit. You’ll also want to have a standard process for what to do when someone fails an audit.

If someone fails, take a corrective action approach to help them improve. It’s helpful to have a specific set of steps to follow to address an employee who has failed an audit.

 

Plan a follow-up audit

Once you’ve identified an issue through a failed audit, and provided the employee with the steps to correct it, you want to make sure the fix sticks. You need to evaluate whether that person has improved, or whether additional measures need to be taken.

And for that, you need a follow-up audit. Just as in step 1, schedule the random audit to check up on your employee’s progress.

Does your office perform audits? What does your process look like? What results (positive or negative) have you seen from performing audits? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

Performing random audits is one of the dozens of strategies we share in our free white paper. If you’re ready to take your practice to the next (profit) level, click here to download 5 Strategies to Accelerate Cash Flow & Increase Profits.

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