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Buying yourself time by making time to review

Buying yourself time by making time to review

A current, commonly raised topic coming through from the profession is the increased time pressures those in practice are facing, particularly around consultations. When asked what the biggest stressors are in practice, time pressures are often the number one answer. Whilst this has always been a key pressure in practice, in many cases time constraints have been intensified by additional or increased factors. 

Processes and protocols are often challenged in reaction to a crisis, with a need to make quick decisions and implement changes immediately. Once these protocols and systems become more embedded, there is an opportunity to make the time to review whether they still the optimal way of doing things or whether there is a need to work smarter in a more process efficient way. This can help to alleviate time pressures and improve the team wellbeing.

Press pause and audit

Having been through a whirlwind of changing, adapting and adopting, perhaps now is the time to catch our breath and press that pause button to review. Consider if there are actions you could take to reduce the pressure and ensure processes are efficient to allow more breathing space. Reviewing your consultation process and breaking it down step by step can help you to c see clearly where improvements can be made

When reviewing your consultations step by step, consider the following:

Which aspects of the consultation can only be done by you, and only during the consultation? These are the steps that have to stay within the consultation timeframe. Is there anything you could do or anyone else who could help you to speed up some of these steps? 

For information gathering, what could be done in advance and who could help do this? Explore options you may not have considered before, establish how you will measure success when reviewing the changes made in order to determine if they are a successful process and an efficient change or the change needs to be adjusted further. Could information be gathered prior to the appointment by e-mail for example? History taking can be difficult with PPE, lack of privacy and intimacy can lead to clients struggling to adjust and therefore making them less likely to communicate effectively. Utilising the skills of support staff at the point of contact to gather information in advance of the consultations may allow you to prepare more effectively for each consultation and make the best use of the time you have

Managing expectations

Ensure your agreed process manages client’s expectations effectively. For example, to make best use of the consultation time you have with a patient, it may be more efficient to telephone a client from the consult room if you have an additional question. Confirming the client understands the reason why this might happen, the benefit to them and the patient is crucial to get them on board with the process. Checking mobile phone numbers and establishing that they can bring a phone with them makes the process run smoothly and allows you to put in place alternatives for those clients where this is not possible.

Plan and prepare

Plan and prepare at the beginning of the day. Prepare your consult room, having information gathered in advance can help with this too. When things seem to be getting out of control, take a moment to step back and prioritise, take a mental break to be more efficient at problem solving

Remember, efficiency signifies a peak level of performance that uses the least amount of inputs to achieve the highest amount of output. It minimizes the waste of resources such as physical materials, energy, and time while accomplishing the desired output! 

About VDS Training
VDS Training are passionate about developing all members of the veterinary team, to help you overcome the personal and professional challenges you face on a daily basis, and to build practical skills and techniques to make a real difference to you and your life.