RX: Change Hours

Dr. Baxter offers flexible hours for staff, patients.
Melissa Topey
Nov 5, 2013
A local doctor has found doing the right thing for patients and staff can pay off.

Dr. Brian Baxter watched as his staff became stressed handling a large caseload of patients during office hours and staying late to finish up.

Baxter, a family practice physician, talked to his staff and learned they wanted more flexibility in their work schedules. At the same time, he knew some of his patients were not able to come in for medical care because they could not afford to miss work.

Baxter, who considers his staff and patients part of his family, wanted a solution. Then he read an article in a recent Medical Economics Journal that discussed the problem of meeting patient needs while meeting staff needs at the same time. The journal presented a solution — extended hours.

Office staff were skeptical about how extended hours could help.

“We decided to give it a shot,” said office manager Chris McLaughin.

The staff found that extended hours allowed patients to come into the office before or after work during the week, as well as Saturday appointments, so patients did not miss any time at work.

“Most companies work with a skeletal staff, and they can’t let people off to go to doctors,” McLaughin said.

They also found there was less of a rush to move patients in and out of appointments, McLaughlin said.

Baxter and his staff found the hours also allowed for more flexibility in the work schedules, with a day off for nurse practitioners Julie Lehrer and Carrie Kiepert, who both have families. Between Baxter, Lehrer and Kiepert, they cover the day.

“This helps the ladies so they can take a day off. Medicine is just so intense, they need to have a day off,” Baxter said.

Lehrer has two children. Kiepert has five children, including 16-month-old identical twin girls.

“A day off allows me to be home with twins,” Kiepert said. “Do household chores, spend time with others, like my parents, who are retired.”

The extended hours have not cost the practice any additional money as they are meeting the scheduling needs with existing staff, McLaughin said. “Things are flowing wonderfully. Patients are happy,” McLaughin said. “Economically it makes sense.” An expert who has published, said Baxter’s office is innovative and did a lot of things right. Crain Communications executive Charles Lauer, publisher of the company’s Modern Healthcare news weekly for more than 25 years, applauded Baxter’s moves. “In general, offices and hospitals do not do a very good job in customer service. Their hours are not convenient for a working person. You are providing a service,” Lauer said. “This is wonderful. This physician is enlightened.” He also liked that Baxter’s staff felt comfortable enough to speak out about what they needed. “You should never be intimidated in a work environment to talk. What kind of a work environment is that?” Lauer asked. “That hurts morale.” An increase in staff morale means an increase in production, Lauer said. “Which means an increase in revenue,” Lauer said.

Comments

looking around

I'm glad to see this, I think Dr. Baxter provides excellent care and service. Another area he needs to look at to cut back on to streamline his operations is unneeded follow up visits which ad another cost of office visits and crowd his appointment calendar. As an example if I come in for routine bloodwork or some other minor care need, follow up with a simple phone call to advise me of the results or ask if conditions appear improved. I don't want to pay for an office visit simply to hear him say "things look normal" "how are you feeling today?" "I'd like to see you again in two months"

While I understand in some cases a follow up visit is necessary, I can count the times on one hand any of my follow up visits were of any benefit to me.

How would the Dr. feel if he brought his car to me for service and I told him, bring it in Tuesday I'll have a look at it and run some tests, then we will schedule service for Friday, I want you to bring it in again in two weeks for me to have a look at even if you think it is operating ok......please stop at the window before leaving to pay your bill. Ohhh by the way I charge seventy five dollars for the office call!

Stop It

^+1^

SamAdams

I agree. I do wonder, however, if Dr. Baxter (and plenty of other physicians) schedule those PROBABLY unnecessary follow-up visits as a CYA measure. All it takes is one lawsuit, frivolous or otherwise, to ruin a reputation, financially devastate a business, and jack up malpractice insurance premiums! Medical malpractice suits are big business, frequently because it's cheaper to settle (whether the doctor did anything wrong or not). Plaintiffs end up winning, and lawyers end up winning BIG!

Julie R.

Considering that Dr. Baxter is the brother of your prosecutor, Kevin Baxter, I don't think Dr. Baxter has anything to worry about when it comes to lawsuits.

looking around

Agreed Sam, however if it is a CYA reason then waive the office visit fee, he's not providing you with further service and it's probably a very brief visit that still has cost you time off work.

queenjhb

Dr. Baxter is always a professional, trys new ideas, up on all the latest medical knowledge, he has my respect and trust, now flexible hours to boot, can't ask for more, thanks.

tk

I see Dr. Baxter routinely from necessity. If I have blood work or tests done the office calls me to inform me of the results. If there is a problem I'm either asked to come back in or advised of a medication I need. He is a warm and caring person and the staff is very nice.

Julie R.

Geez, first McGookey with his foreclosure stories and now Baxter's doctor/coroner brother.

Food For Thought

Tell me Julie does it take a toll on you being bitter and cynical all the time? Have you ever been treated by Dr. Baxter, he's a nice man, and the story is about how he is helping the community get healthier. I know I have been able to make my appointments now that I don't have to try and leave work. Sometimes a good story is just a good story, not some vast conspiracy.

Julie R.

Yeah, right.

tk

It is obvious that you don't know Dr. Baxter.

queenjhb

tk It is obvious to everyone ,that Julie R. hasn't met Dr. Baxter, if she has the chance to, she might feel differently.

Julie R.

To reiterate ---- first McGookey's foreclosure stories and now Kevin Baxter's doctor/coroner brother.

Do the McGookeys and Baxters have stock in the Sandusky Register or what?

Julie R.

First we hear all this applauding of the two new Common Pleas Court judges, Tygh Tone and Roger Binette, and what a great job they were doing cleaning up the backlog of cases left behind by the former Common Pleas Court judge Ann Maschari. (try the backlog of cases in the probate court instead) Then we hear all this applauding of the new Clerk of Court Luvada Wilson (who came from Tygh Tone's court) for finally getting records online. Those common pleas court records are just as false and misleading as the auditor and recorder's online records are, but hey, give her credit --- at least she got them online, right? Next thing you know, we'll be hearing what a great job the probate court judge Beverly McGookey has been doing for the last 12+ years ..... and that's when I WILL puke.

KURTje

Julie nobody likes a prude.