Office Business and Management Functions

Key Points

• In addition to scheduling and billing functions, information technology must facilitate intraoffice communications and workflow.

• Automating repetitive tasks saves time, improves efficiency, and enhances other patient care.

• Systems should record and analyze a broad set of demographics to enhance the care of diverse populations.

• Electronic monitoring of information allows data-driven decision making about staffing and resource allocation.

Well-developed information systems have long been available for practice management functions such as billing, collections, scheduling, and general accounting. These functions can now be supplemented with information from the clinical record to improve quality, efficiency, and reliability. Intraoffice communication through e-mail and workflow support will help automate routine or repetitive tasks and eliminate wasted time looking for team members. Having all the necessary information enhances payment levels and reduces claim denials.

With patient populations becoming more diverse, family physicians need to expand the demographics they track. In addition to name, address, and payer information, physicians must now record data on primary language, family relationships, cultural preferences, and even genetic information that might affect treatment decisions or medication selection.

Computer systems should also provide the information needed to manage productivity and personnel. Family physicians should make decisions about staffing levels or adding clinicians based on reliable data. Calculations of patient panel size by clinician, productivity per full-time equivalent (FTE) provider, and supply/demand for appointments will support good business decisions.

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