Finding Silver Linings During a Forced SLOW Down – Part 1

Over the past few weeks, we have all experienced drastic changes in our daily lives. With the COVID-19 pandemic still spreading, not enough tests to reveal real numbers of infected and exposed and social distancing and shelter in place orders still being ignored by some, you may say this is a dry run for the end of days… The universe is trying to tell us something and it is NOT speaking in riddles.

All-day, every day we are inundated with new (some real and lots fake) and surrounded by fear of the unknown. As a practice management consultant with nearly two decades of experience working solely in the field of podiatry (no pun intended), most of you that know me would agree that if I don’t have the answer to a question, I can usually find it… and quickly. In this situation, however, we are in unchartered territory, and so I spend my days reading and researching the most relevant and reliable information I can find that relates to the health and wellbeing of my practices, patients, staff members, and families and pass it along in a “Cliff Notes” version.

If you are like me and have not just an A, but an A+ (Extra) personality, you are easily frustrated by a lack of control in any situation. This one takes the cake!

Here are some tips to stay productive and feel as if you have some control during this forced SLOW-down. There usually aren’t enough hours in the day. Now, what’s your excuse?

  1. Your patient schedule is reduced so use the downtime wisely to tackle those projects you have been putting off for years.
    • Set a timer on your phone and take it an hour at a time (this will allow you to focus, tackle and complete one task at a time)
      • Remember, there is no such thing as multi-tasking
    • Clean out your desk and office (every drawer, every shelf)
      • If it’s not useful or beautiful THROW IT AWAY or RECYCLE IT
      • Get organized by creating and labeling folders (actual and digital) and providing a “home” for all of your “stuff”
    • Clean out/clean up your inbox
      • Go through from oldest to newest and determine which emails:
        1. require an actual response
        2. are too late to respond to; trash them or send an apology email
        3. can be trashed or require an unsubscribe (how many Wayfair emails do you really need?)
        4. should be archived in labeled folders. I have hundreds of folders and find a great sense of satisfaction in “filing” my emails and watching them disappear from my inbox.
  2. Ask staff to clean out drawers, cabinets, and closets in the office
    • Discover and throw out expired products (order replacements)
    • Discard old requisitions, out of date order and patient forms, etc.
    • Create easily accessible file folders that are clearly labeled
    • Reorganize then take pictures of drawers and cabinets so that any staff member can stock and take inventory. Create your own front and back-office training manuals to assure consistency and avoid overstocking.
      • This will also help to establish “par levels” for commonly used items
        1. Ex: Must have 2 Small, 4 Medium and 4 Large CAM Walkers in stock at all times
  3. Do some cost comparisons to see if you are receiving the best pricing from vendors or need to research alternatives (also look for additional charges like fuel, handling, etc. that you may not be aware of)
    • If you are part of a buying group, make sure you are taking advantage of available discounts
    • Make a list of all the vendors you order from and what is ordered from each. If a staff member is responsible for this, ask them to tackle this and then review it with you.
    • Do the same for DME, cash products, etc.
      • Many times, the staff member(s) responsible for inventory and ordering continue to order from the same vendors out of familiarity and convenience. If something as simple as completing a registration form with an alternative vendor is standing in the way of saving thousands a year on commonly ordered supplies or services, now is the time to remedy that.

Stay tuned for Part II with more helpful tips…

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