Do You Need Clinic Operations Improvement?

Do You Need Clinic Operations Improvement?

In my last blog “How to Improve Patient Flow” we gave you 12 ways to improve patient flow. In this article, we want to discuss how clinic management can recognize problems or know when clinic operations improvement is needed?

What observations, indicators or measurements can help clinic management recognize when an opportunity for improvement is waiting to be discovered?


Indicators alert you when something is wrong. Indicators can be signs or symptoms of a problem.


A measurement is usually recorded as a number of objects and events and can be used for comparison. Measurement is the key for recognizing the need for quality improvement and tells you how a clinic or hospital is doing right now.

Both indicators and measurements can help clinic management identify opportunities for improvement.

Here are 7 indicators and measurement.

If you see one or more of these happening in your clinic or hospital operation, you should know something is going wrong and you should consider taking actions to improve your systems.

These indicators and measurement suggest there is a problem and that some form of clinic operations improvement is needed NOW!

  1. The “no show” rate increases
  2. If you observe or hear that “another” patient did not show up for their scheduled appointment this is an indicator of a problem. No shows are bad for business. A no show compromises the schedule and results in lost income. If clinic management sees the no-show rate increasing over time (the past few months or the past year), they should recognize there is a problem and start looking for a system or methodology to reduce the no show rate.

    In our consulting brief, “Actions to Improve Clinic Operations”, which you can get by clicking the button below, we provide some processes and solutions you can use to reduce the no show rate.

  3. The check-in/check-out areas have patients waiting in line
  4. Every day, on your way through the office, if most of the time you see patients waiting at either the patient check in station or check out station, you should recognize there may be an issue. Try to get a better understanding of why people are always waiting and take actions to reduce the waiting time.

  5. Physicians perform clinic staff’s responsibilities
  6. It’s important to recognize when responsibilities are not defined. In a healthcare system, every care team member from physicians, nurses, nurse managers, medical assistants and triage nurses, desk clerks etc., should have their own defined duties and responsibilities.

    As a healthcare leader or manager, if your physicians complain they are performing the medical support staff’s duties resulting in delayed patient flow, you should recognize this as an alert of undefined responsibilities for some or all of your care team members.

  7. Patient complaints increase
  8. Patient satisfaction is the key to an efficient and productive clinic. Patient satisfaction surveys provide first-hand customer feedback about the healthcare system operations. In addition to patient satisfaction surveys, a patient complaint hotline is a more efficient way to obtain and understand patients’ experiences with the system.

  9. No policies and procedures exist
  10. If there are no policies and procedures, or if they exist but are out of date, this is a big red flag that the clinic operations have issues. Policies and procedures can help a healthcare organization standardize practices across the organization. Operational standards can help management run the business more effectively.

  11. No on-going training programs exist
  12. Maintaining healthcare staff qualifications and skills plays an important role in improving clinic operations. Training provides healthcare staff the opportunity to improve their knowledge and skills and to get a better understanding of the organization.

    In our consulting brief, “Actions to Improve Clinic Operations”, which you can download by clicking the button below, we provide some ways to help you develop low cost staff training programs.

  13. Lack of third party assessments
  14. Third party assessments can focus on different areas and take many different forms. An assessment may include a review of measurements and standards or be conducted as a peer review or by outside consultants. Third party assessments often focus on what could be improved rather than on failures. The outcome and recommendations of an assessment is usually focused on improving organizational performance.

    In our consulting brief, “Actions to Improve Clinic Operations”, which you can download by clicking the button below, we provide clinic management with additional actions you can take to improve your healthcare operations.

Get Our Checklist - Actions to Improve Clinic Operations

Emma Zhang is an experienced audit professional, with more than six years of internal audit & Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) compliance focusing on operations, accounting, internal controls and process improvement. Competencies include operational auditing, accounting, management consulting, Sarbanes Oxley (SOX) compliance, audit planning and risk assessments, operational/financial planning and analysis, and data analysis. Emma is a resourceful, creative thinker and analytical problem solver with demonstrated ability to independently manage tasks from planning through execution in dynamic, fast-paced, and time-sensitive environments. Emma is a CPA with a CFE certificate. Emma is also a Blackline Certified Implementation Professional and helps clients to implement Blackline system.