Time is an important resource for medical practitioners. On a daily basis, they need to juggle patients, administrative duties and research while maintaining high standards of patient care. Therefore, it would be useful for them to know how to maximise their productivity at work, as this can help to ease their workflow and maximise day-to-day efficiency.

1. Specialise and delegate

Medical practitioners are often tasked with several duties on a daily basis. In view of this, choosing to handle all of the tasks by themselves may result in a huge productivity drain, which makes it crucial that every healthcare professional learns how to delegate their responsibilities to other staff. Essentially, healthcare providers often need to work in a team, making delegation even more crucial as it will make the most out of the appropriate skills that each individual possesses.

Specialisation is also an effective way to ensure productivity - this practice has been embedded in economic theory decades ago where work is split into discrete tasks and assigned to specific workers in order to enhance productivity.

Today however, healthcare professionals often get lost in their workload and try to do everything at once. Federick Turton, medical director of general internal medicine at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, talks about working at the top of one’s licensure. This calls for practitioners to delegate tasks to fellow staff members while they focus on work that they are qualified to do. Based on this concept, all employees should be carrying out work based on their appropriate skill level, thus enhancing productivity.

2. “If this, then that”

Given that delegation is carried out in healthcare institutions, communication is the key between healthcare practitioners and their staff members. Using an “if this, then that” system allows for follow-up action to be taken immediately after a task is completed. For example, if a patient returns to the clinic with recurring symptoms of the diagnosed illness, a doctor may instruct the nurse to prescribe a stronger dosage of medication.

According to Dr. Hasty from the Jerry M. Wallace School of Osteopathic Medicine in North Carolina, productivity is dramatically improved if one can answer questions even before they are asked. The “if this, then that” system thereby reduces time spent on back-and-forth communication, and prevents any consequent miscommunication that may happen in the process.

3. Go digital

A truly “paperless practice” is not always realistic, especially where practitioners have individual preferences for notation and transcription. Furthermore, paper documents are still widely circulated amidst electronic formats, creating barriers to full-scale adoption of going paperless. However, there are still aspects of a practitioner’s work where digital tools may be incorporated to maximise productivity.

Practitioners may utilise digital note-taking tools for collating information from textbooks, conferences and lectures. Digital notes can be easily organised, saved in folders and assigned with tags for convenient retrieval. For practitioners who still prefer the art of handwriting, the Moleskin Smart Notebook goes a step further and allows for handwritten notes to be captured as digital files. These notes can be synced to an online note-taking application, that can be easily shared across your desktop and mobile devices. This is a great tool to consolidate notes without accumulating multiple physical notebooks.

A great complement to digital databases would be the use of tablets. According to a research on professionals by CDW that involved 152 healthcare respondents, the use of a tablet helped professionals gain one point one hours in daily productivity. The portability of tablets allows for efficiency gains, where practitioners may access any urgent information where a desktop computer is not accessible. Where the practitioner is often mobile, tablets may also allow for small tasks to be accomplished throughout the day such as emailing and scheduling patients.

4. Give yourself a break

While achieving productivity at work, it is important that the self is not neglected in the process. This is especially relevant where practitioners may face physician burnout. Taking regular breaks is a great way to enhance one’s productivity in a healthy way.

Researchers from the University of Illinois uncovered that prolonged stimulation leads to a state of ‘habituation’, where the brain eventually registers the task at hand to be unimportant. As such, brief diversions (recommended hourly) are beneficial as they allow for a mental break and for the brain to ‘reboot’ itself for better focus and performance throughout the day. MIMS

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