Physicians are busy. Finding time to develop new ways to improve practice efficiency takes away from time spent with patients, which is constantly being pruned by requirements and regulations. With tight schedules and time constraints, where do physicians go to share solutions and learn about their peers’ secrets to practice success?

The AMA’s STEPS Forward website offers interactive educational modules that help physicians address practice challenges using proven solutions other physicians have developed and implemented in their own practices. The Practice Innovation Challenge, offered in partnership by the AMA and the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), called for submissions of high-value, easy-to-adopt, transformative practice solutions to help physicians work smarter and improve patient care.

The challenge winners were announced Monday at the MGMA 2015 Annual Conference. From patient care to new hire training, the winners come from all corners of the medical community, where they have cultivated their own advancements in practice efficiency.

These five innovators met the challenge, and their concepts will become future STEPS Forward modules:

  • The Letter Project. VJ Periyakoil, MD, director of palliative care education and training at Stanford University School of Medicine, designed a simple template to help patients engage with their physicians about end-of-life conversations. The Letter Project is available in eight languages and is easily accessible to people with multiple levels of literacy as a paper form and as a mobile app. It is used widely.  
  • Medical assistant in-service education. Janet Duni, director of care coordination for the Vanguard Medical Group, created a plan for training medical assistants. The plan employs nurse coordinators to develop monthly medical assistant in-service modules using interactive presentations, flashcards, guest speakers and peer teaching in a “lunch ‘n learn” format.
  • Extending primary care from the hospital to home. James E. Bailey, MD, professor of medicine and preventive medicine at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, created a medical home-based care transition team to alleviate drug therapy problems and better manage patients with multiple chronic conditions using the SafeMed model.
  • Patient-centered new patient process. Bruce Budmayr, business development manager at Asante Physician Partners, established a plan to implement a new patient coordinator, who facilitates and assists in initiating the patient registration process on the phone ahead of time to allow for more effective patient visits.
  • Health coaching. Thomas Bodenheimer, MD, professor of family and community medicine at the University of California–San Francisco, formed a health coaching plan to resolve discrepancies in care and engage patients to promote and monitor proper lifestyle and medication changes.

10 new modules have been added to the STEPS Forward curriculum. You can earn continuing medical education (CME) credit at the same time as you use these modules to push your practice toward its full potential.

Try the 10 new modules to help your team improve practice efficiency. They include timely topics, such as:

  • Optimizing space in medical practices. Taking steps to design the physical space of your practice to enhance work flow efficiency, patient and team interactions, and patient safety can influence the relationship between physicians and patients. Learn how to get the most out of your space to improve your practice environment.
  • Revenue cycle management in medical practice. Patient care is always the top priority. But an efficient revenue cycle management system is critical to your practice’s financial health and sustainability—and it can help your practice free up more time for patients. Learn how keep your practice financially healthy.
  • Adopting telemedicine in practice. Telemedicine service models provide access to specialist care, reduce costs and improve patient outcomes by supporting coordination and communication within your team. Get an overview of service models, state and federal regulatory considerations, and technology requirements to ensure patient privacy.
  • Preparing your practice for change. Organizational development centers on optimizing management, integration, improvement and adaptability to increase effectiveness and efficiency so that your practice can achieve its goals. Learn the four key elements that will give a boost to the organization of your practice.

In addition to the 10 new modules, STEPS Forward offers 17 other active modules to delve into, including improving medication adherence, preventing physician burnout and starting Lean health care.

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