Improving efficiency is rarely about fixing one big thing that stands in the way of productivity. Most often, inefficiency is the cumulative effect of many small wasteful processes that result in 5, 10 or 15 minutes added to steps in a process – when isolated they don’t seem like a big deal, but together can have a big impact on your bottom line.
Some of the types of inefficiency that are commonly understood include duplication of efforts, bottlenecks, or additional steps. We want to draw your attention to a whole other class of inefficiencies that you should tackle to maximize productivity: Non-value-added activities.
Unnecessary movement –The manual movement of documents or people within an operation or a process. Every time you get up to move paper physically from one place to another, you are wasting effort, and interrupting any rhythm or momentum you might have in your work. For example: a fax needs to be physically taken to the individual or to the fax machine. Or a document is received that is needed to release claim and it must be physically handed off first to compliance and then to billing.
Unnecessary waiting – Any time customers or employees are waiting for something or someone, there is no value being added. An obvious example is when you are waiting for a handoff – for someone to walk a document to you – from a previous step in the process before the next action can be completed. But it also can be found in more subtle ways, like a lack of tools to organize data to maximize calls to insurance companies, so you end up calling back the same company multiple times in a day and the time spent listening to the phone ring is wasted time.
Repeat work – Having to do something over again because it was not done right the first time. This isn’t the same as duplication of effort, but rather points to not having standardized processes that produce proven results. We often see repeat work when it comes to rebilling and appealing denied claims. You need to do it to get your money, but if it had been submitted correctly the first time it would have been much less effort overall.
Irrelevant work – Doing things within an operation that are irrelevant to the customer and/or payer. The focus of your work should be those you are serving. Building reports and tracking spreadsheets are only value-added if you actually use this data for feedback and to improve your operation. And even then, if you are gathering the data from electronic sources, you should be able to build an electronic report that gives you what you need a the touch of a button. Another example is when you’ve submitted a claim electronically, but feel compelled to print and file it anyway. Often we can uncover irrelevant work by its calling card, the expression: “we’ve just always done it this way.”
Underutilized ability – A person or machine that is not being fully used to their potential to provide value to the customer and/or payer. A human example of this is a receptionist who is not given tasks to work on in between the times when patients walk through the door. Not only is her ability underutilized, but she is likely experiencing a lot of unnecessary waiting. Machine examples include duplicate data entry into separate systems. Or, paying the rental on a top of the line copier when you are a paperless office and rarely use it. That money could better serve your mission elsewhere.
Unnecessary quantities – Having higher inventory or information than necessary to do the job required. Having too much inventory is a classic supply chain dilemma. Having too much information doesn’t sound bad at first, but the reality is that it will slow you down. Employees should have a sense of how their work fits into the larger process, but the more employees can focus, the more they can get into the rhythm of the work, and the more they can accomplish. Having extraneous information just gets in the way.
All of the non-value added activities defined above are either a distraction or inconsequential to serving your patients with the utmost care and service. Business Process Management (BPM) and workflow automation can help eliminate these inefficiencies by having the computer do the heavy lifting for you and elevating your staff to focus on the work that requires a human touch: customer service and fulfilling your mission.
To learn more or request a demonstration of what Medforce software can do for you fill in this form or call our sales department at:
Even our demos let you preview without leaving your desk. View the power of Medforce right from the comfort of your office.