A medical business should always be making steps toward improvement. That is how we retain clients in all businesses. Have you ever thought, “Every worker is busy. The appointment calendar is full. The piles of work get bigger, but the money is shrinking. It feels like everything is out of control.”
These are common thoughts for many executives and employees when a business has grown to capacity. How can we find areas that need improvement? Self-audit is a tool that will help answer those questions.
The television show “Undercover Boss” depicts corporate executives in disguise traveling to different locations of their business. They want to discover the real truth about flaws in their company’s workplaces. Many are surprised by the loyalty of the employees who try hard and care about the company. Yet many employees feel disconnected from the ‘top’ because they have ideas about how to improve their jobs and their company that go unheard.
The owner of a company need not go undercover to get into the real workings of the business. Business owners should be encouraging employees to improve workflows and outcomes. Self-audit is a simple and proven method for finding better ways to work. Sometimes it takes another set of eyes to see obvious flaws in a workflow. Maybe it means giving an employee permission to take the time to stop and take time to reflect upon their work.
It is always better to find your own mistakes and correct them before an outside auditor comes in to point them out. Set aside a small period of time daily or weekly to conduct a self-audit. Look over the goal of the project, and then get into the details. Ask others to look over the work and give feedback. Swap files and audit one another’s work. If self-audit is done frequently, it need not take hours or days. Learn to budget your time and include self-audit on your task list. For instance, in our practice, I budget fifteen minutes a day to review charts and to compare treatment data to the charges billed. It keeps the files from piling up on my desk and helps me catch billing errors when they are fresh.
The first question to ask during self-audit or internal audit is “Why”. Why did the biller choose that code? Why did the treatment course change mid-stream? Why does it take so long to answer the phone?
The second and most important question to ask is “How”. How can we make our processes better?
Self-audit gives everybody power and control over their own work. The practice of self-audit will give employees confidence that their tasks are being completed with integrity as they see flaws and improvements that can be made in their own work practice. It also gives employees proof of their abilities to manage their job duties, especially when they correct problems as they arise. Self-audit also gives the owner or CEO confidence that everything is under control.