Mastering the medical mindshift: Active management of time instead of unplanned time wasting

Facts and Figures from the German Health Care System

What it’s all about

No complaint is as widespread in doctor circles as the one about lack of time. But apart from situations of dramatic understaffing, it would be obsolete if practice owners and their staff managed their use of time professionally.

Reasons for „lack of time“.

Patient care, administration, implementing necessary changes, testing innovations and private life: Doctors and MFAs complain again and again about too little time. However, analyses show that one third of the available time in medical practices is downright wasted due to misalignments in management. Four reasons are responsible for this:

Missing transparency

Most doctors and staff think they know what activities they perform and how long they need to do them. However, if the daily workload is documented, serious differences between assumptions and reality become apparent. But if you don’t have this insight, you can’t use your time wisely.

Professional time management is therefore based first of all on a detailed status determination of activities, associated times and the distribution or sequence.

Reactive action

What is important, what is urgent, what can be delegated? Instead of actively planning and controlling work in a forward-looking manner with clear goals and priorities, most practice teams allow themselves to be passively and reactively determined by requirements.

An example is the frequently used formulation on the phone: „When would you like to come in?“ In terms of patient orientation, this is initially a friendly approach, but from an organisational and time management perspective it is a serious mistake. It is better to use the alternative formulation: „I can offer you the following appointments…“. Telephone calls with such appointment offers have three advantages:

  • they are on average 39 seconds shorter, and for every 100 telephone calls they save one hour of time per day. Theoretically extrapolated to a year, that is – to illustrate the dimension – 260 hours that can be saved, with an average MFA hourly wage of € 13 valued at almost € 3,400 monetary waste,
  • with the same friendliness of the offer – patients do not feel any difference between the formulations in this respect – the appointment booking and thus the working time utilisation of the practice are optimised,
  • in addition, the patients perceive the offer variant as clearly more professional.

Lack of discipline

Both doctors and staff are too often distracted and interrupted. These aspects lead to activities having to be restarted several times and taking twice as long on average as if they were processed continuously at a stretch.

Rigid mindsets

A multitude of routines can be found in medical practices. On the surface, these are tried-and-tested procedures that make the work easier, since one no longer has to think about the processing; everything works more or less automatically. In this way, routines on the one hand have a partly positive effect on efficiency, productivity and also motivation, especially when the work pressure is great.

However, they also have a decisive disadvantage, which is less due to them than to the users: they are too rarely checked for their raison d’être and viability. The cause is a comfort with leaving the comfort zones that have been created. But routines that are no longer up to date worsen the work situation; this process takes place insidiously and unnoticed.

Time optimisation is only successful holistically

What many doctors lack is

  • holistic time management tailored to their personal needs,
  • with the help of which they can systematically organise and plan the use of their working time.

But even for practice owners who are not acutely affected by the problems described, it is helpful, taking this definition into account,

  • regularly review their own time management and
  • eliminate the „efficiency killers“ that can easily creep in at an early stage and
  • identify previously unused optimisation opportunities.

The term „holistic time management“ encompasses, on the one hand, the personal handling of time through the application of techniques suitable for this purpose and, on the other hand, the design of the practice management that defines the framework for action.

The more comprehensively the practice management is best practice-oriented, i.e. the more regulations, instruments and behavioural patterns are used that ensure a sustainably functioning practice operation, the less time doctors need to spend on management.

Time management in this definition is the opposite of stopwatch and assembly line medicine. It leads to the elimination of pressure, relaxation and harmonisation through the development of temporal freedom.

How does the Valetudo Check-up© „Holistic Time Management“ support practising doctors in optimising their use of time?

The validated remote time management analysis, which can be implemented without the need for an on-site consultant, is designed to,

  • identify deficit and risk areas in time and practice management and
  • to identify optimisation opportunities for freeing up time.

The Valetudo Check-up© is also suitable for practice owners who have not felt any time pressure so far, because experience shows that their practices also have unused reserves or misalignments that can only lead to problems in the medium term.