7 Effective Time Management Strategies for Healthcare Professionals

Every second contributes to the effectiveness of patient care. Physicians must be able to efficiently manage their time, prioritize daily tasks, and adopt time management strategies and tools to optimize their schedule and get things done on time.

In this article, we investigate how you can use time management techniques to achieve your professional goals, avoid stress and burnout, and deliver exceptional patient care.

The importance of time management

Most physicians in the United States work between 40 and 60 hours per week. Doctors often work long hours and must juggle many tasks, with limited time available for each. Poor time management can negatively affect patients’ health and wellbeing. 

A survey by MedEdPORTAL of over 14,000 physicians in the United States discovered that from 2013 to 2017, burnout rates increased in every specialty. The top two causes of burnout were “too many bureaucratic tasks” and “spending too many hours at work,” which both relate to time management.

Quality education for healthcare practitioners should include practical time management skills and task prioritization, such as training, courses, and workshops. Multiple studies have demonstrated that limiting clinical hours and better lifestyle control correlate with increased career satisfaction among physicians.

Time management techniques are vital to keeping your healthcare business running and delivering high-quality patient care, including minimizing wait times and dealing with emergencies without losing sight of other patients. 

Effectively managing your schedule allows you to reach the desired level of control over your time, reduce stress and medical errors, and accomplish things on your to-do list with maximum productivity. 

7 effective time management strategies for healthcare professionals

With endless to-do lists, paperwork, and administrative burdens, time management is necessary to regain control of your time. There are plenty of time management strategies, but which best fit healthcare professionals? 

#1 Delegate work that other staff members can do

Thinking that physicians should do everything on their own regarding patient care and should have all the answers is an old approach. As we move towards patient-oriented healthcare, a team of diverse, qualified medical specialists with unique skills can take over different aspects of patient care, satisfying the needs of every patient. Delegating certain responsibilities to competent medical staff will ease your workload, improve your productivity, increase the comprehensiveness of patient care, and save you time.

Delegating by primary care physicians

Below are some tasks that can be easily delegated:

  • A professional nurse can significantly help you in patient care if you delegate tasks such as gathering patient information, contacting patients to inform them about lab results, taking blood samples, and measuring vital signs.
  • A medical assistant can do minor tasks such as filling out documents or managing phone calls.
  • Front desk staff can tackle financial matters with patients, address organizational issues, or direct patients to the needed healthcare provider. 

#2 Plan your day ahead

Weekly or monthly planning will make you focused and prepared for unforeseen events. By planning your schedule, you know

  • which patients will you see
  • what you might need to prepare for planned appointments (such as equipment, supplies, and medical records)

Devote some time on Sunday, for example, to scheduling your week ahead, splitting your goals into daily tasks and evaluating the priority of these tasks. You will see right away what tasks can be delegated.

Also, consider your energy level throughout the day. If you have peak energy in the morning, set the most essential and demanding tasks then and schedule less urgent tasks that aren’t a high priority in the second part of the day.

ExpertBox Scheduling

Using technology can ease your planning. An automated scheduler (like the one provided by ExpertBox clinic practice management software) allows you to link your personal events with your work calendar. By doing this, you will gain control over your schedule and your team’s schedule and strengthen your time management. Furthermore, with scheduling software, you can:

  • set a buffer time of at least 10 minutes before an appointment to prepare
  • set up automated appointment notifications for both you and your patients
  • change your availability for specific days or change your regular availability and allow your patients to see this updated availability automatically

#3 Use electronic health records (EHRs)

Adopting electronic health records improves not only the efficiency of patient treatment but also the organization of your clinical workflows. A patient’s medical history in electronic health records can be automatically updated in real time and made accessible to all physicians involved in a patient’s care. This will save you much time when a patient needs to switch physicians to continue care, allowing you to simplify patient management.

Benefits of EHRs

With electronic medical records, you can start meaningfully managing your healthcare practice and time thanks to:

  • accessibility of patient health records to all authorized medical staff
  • built-in templates for repeatedly used medical forms
  • storage of frequently used information (so you don’t need to repeatedly enter the same data)
  • the ability to retrieve data securely in case of data breaches
  • frequent data backups
  • fewer mistakes due to manual data entry

In addition, with the widespread adoption of EHRs, many healthcare facilities and providers across the country are allowed to prescribe drugs electronically. Accurate medical prescriptions can be sent directly to a pharmacy online from the point of care, which reduces medical errors, saves healthcare providers’ time, and facilitates patient care. 

Note that practitioners issuing electronic prescriptions for controlled substances in the United States must use a software application that meets all Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) requirements

An EHR system can also automatically scan for possible contraindications or drug interactions based on a patient’s diagnosis and medical history.

Implementing an electronic health record system may be tricky if you don’t consider possible risks. You must take specific steps to change how your clinic operates. Read more in this guide to the vital stages of EHR implementation.

#4 Automate tasks with technology

Based on a nationally representative survey of 4,720 American healthcare professionals working 20 or more hours per week in direct patient care, the average US physician spends 8.7 hours per week (16.6% of working hours) on administrative tasks. Psychiatrists spend the highest proportion of their time on management (20.3%), followed by internists and family practitioners (both 17.3%). 

Technology can simplify lots of clinical processes, including:

  • appointment scheduling
  • billing management
  • team management
  • health records automation 
  • virtual care
  • and much more

With technology, physicians can minimize the amount of paperwork and administrative tasks and devote more productive time to patient care.

With clinic management software that supports appointment scheduling and booking automation, you’ll let patients handle their appointment bookings as they want to, relieving the burden from your front desk staff and saving you time. Additionally, you won’t need to manually send notes and other patient files to other healthcare specialists (if they work in the same system).

Automated booking, billing, and notifications are not the only tasks that can be done for physicians by software. Check out what other routine tasks can be automated and review the most popular solutions for healthcare practitioners.

#5 Block time for regular clinic duties

Effective time management allows you to avoid putting off other tasks in case an unplanned or urgent assignment comes up. Try to organize your work calendar in a way that works around your regularly scheduled activities, such as meetings with colleagues in a clinic, teaching workshops, or regular clinic duties. 

#6 Reduce time wasters

Disruptions, physical or technological interruptions, and delays continuously eat into your valuable time. Look at the nine most common time wasters for physicians and ways to minimize their impact:

Time wasters for physicians

#7 Merge related tasks

It’s resource- and energy-intensive to switch between unconnected tasks.

Getting back to the task takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds

When we group similar activities, it takes us less energy and fewer cognitive resources to juggle them. In medical practice, these activity groups might be:

  • replying to emails
  • checking scheduled appointments
  • preparing laboratory tests
  • referring patients to other physicians

Final thoughts

Quality time management is key to improved physician performance, higher patient satisfaction, and better quality care. Yet, if you want to make a fundamental change in your time management habits, consider implementing practice management software to boost your performance and productivity.

Thanks to automated notifications, automated payments, advanced reporting, intake forms, electronic medical records, and much more, you can automate tedious processes and routine tasks and concentrate on delivering patient care.

Request a free trial now to see how ExpertBox clinic management software will help you automate your entire clinical workflow — from booking appointments to receiving payments.

  • There are plenty of time management strategies, but which ones fit healthcare professionals best?

    1. Delegate work that other staff members can do
    2. Plan your day ahead
    3. Use electronic health records (EHRs)
    4. Automate tasks with technology
    5. Block time for regular clinic duties
    6. Reduce time wasters
    7. Merge related tasks
  • Look at the nine most common time wasters for physicians and ways to alleviate them:

    • Phone calls: Check your messages and phone calls 1–2 times per day.
    • Emails: Check emails 3–4 times per day.
    • Physical interruptions: Close your office door when you’re busy and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
    • Paperwork: Handle each piece of paper only once and throw it out when in doubt.
    • Repetitive tasks: Use technology to automate tasks. Delegate duties that other staff members could do.
    • Disorganization: Clean and organize your desk and office.
    • Procrastination: Determine and address reasons for procrastination to not let them get in the way of achieving your goals.
    • Meetings: Be punctual.
    • Commuting: Listen to educational audio books, learn something new like a foreign language, read medical journals and articles, etc.
  • Time management techniques are vital to keeping your healthcare business running and delivering high-quality patient care, including minimizing wait times and dealing with emergencies without losing sight of other patients. 

    Effectively managing your schedule allows you to reach your desired level of control over your time, reduce stress and medical errors, and accomplish things on your to-do list with maximum productivity.

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