You glance at the chart, the clock and the smiling patient. You are right on schedule. Now that is refreshing for a change. You extend your hand to say goodbye and tell the patient you will see her again in two weeks. She can call the office if she has any questions.
That is the trigger for the sudden cascade of inquiries that topples the perfect clinic schedule. You settle back in your chair and prepare to answer your patient’s questions. That extra five minutes multiplied by the 30 to 60 patients you see per day can mean more than two hours added to your schedule if even just a fraction of them require extra time.
What we all need is a good “physician extender.” Short of cloning ourselves, the best physician extender is a podiatric medical assistant, medical assistant, certified nursing assistant, physician assistant or registered nurse. However, the economic impact is considerable if you add trained personnel.
The second best solution is using available patient education pamphlets that are effective to varying degrees depending on their quality. These are available for purchase from vendors and review the basics most of the most common medical/biomechanical conditions as well as common conditions that may require surgery.
An emerging option is the use of educational books to help answer patient questions and having those same books available for sale in your waiting area. This practice is currently seen in allopathic medicine, particularly in dermatology and plastic surgery. It helps patients by reinforcing your message and extending their education in other areas. This practice increases your revenue flow as well.
I was recently asked to review a book for the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association (JAPMA) and I believe it would be an excellent resource to facilitate patient education. Keep the Legs You Stand On is penned by Mark Hinkes, DPM, and is published by Nightengale Press.
It reads more like a novel at times with touching or funny stories to bring home the importance of taking care of oneself. With the book at the podiatrist’s side as a reference guide, he or she will be able to reinforce key educational points with patients in a manner that will be memorable. This book is not the only resource that DPMs can use in this manner but it is one of the better and most recent ones I have seen.
In an era of no time to spare, no end to the education that needs to be shared and a need to explore every potential revenue source, educational resources merit further exploration for the benefits they could provide to patients and physicians alike.