When we talk about work in progress, many people automatically think of the WIP task tracker in your software. But when I talk about work in progress, I am talking about every patient you are actively managing (and I am using “actively” quite loosely!). I will call it WIP but know that I am talking about each patient.
The current state of affairs is an excellent time to focus on workflow and patient flow, to find and fix inefficiencies and bottlenecks. Many O&P practices do not have a clear process for working through and maintaining their patient workflow as the patient progresses through the various stages of care. This is where your profitability can be most significantly influenced by your strategy. When you dig into your WIP, you will probably find billable events that have not been billed.
Every company is different, but your peers have identified some best practices for managing your WIP. Step one is to clean it—get rid of the distractions and the “work” that is not real. WIP should only include patients that have not reached the end of the patient care and service cycle and are being regularly monitored. This can be time consuming, but look for patterns and try to understand why you have less than desirable data in there.
Things to look for:
- Errors: Patients whose devices are delivered but are unbilled. (The handoff between the clinical side and the administrative side did not work.)
- Stalls: Patients who were seen and evaluated, but the work never proceeded. Were the codes entered? Is authorization/verification pending? Did someone forget to schedule them for the next appointment? Was the work completed, but delivery wasn’t scheduled? Look for patients that fell through the cracks.
- Delays: Missed appointments, no-call/no-shows, patient not responding, etc.
Once you have identified which patients should actually be in your active WIP, have your staff go through all the others and correct the information. Collect the money you are owed and write policies or procedures for managing your patient workflow. Patterns will present themselves as you go through this exercise, so teach the staff how to minimize the instruction of “clutter” into your workflow so that you can focus only on those things that matter.