Athletic trainers know time is their most precious resource. Whether you’re treating an athlete on the sidelines or taping an ankle in the training room, every minute counts. And, even when you’re not in the middle of a game or treatment, mountains of documentation and endless phone calls can shift your focus away from the athletes you were hired to help.
Fortunately, there are more than a few ways for you and your staff to save time, stay on top of your workload, and keep your program successful. From helpful technologies to better policies and procedures, here are 10 time-savers for busy athletic trainers.
1. Electronic Record-Keeping
Electronic medical records have long been used in health care, but providers have only recently begun taking full advantage of their capabilities. As Congress’s Meaningful Use requirements have gone into effect, more and more providers have leveraged EMRs for data capture, information sharing, and communication.
While athletic training facilities don’t face the same requirements for EMR use, consistent electronic record-keeping can only help. While data entry may seem cumbersome at times, having athletes’ information at your fingertips allows for far faster, more efficient prescriptions and physician communication.
2. Facility Management Software
Similarly, electronic facility management systems can streamline and automate a wide variety of time-consuming tasks. Trainer scheduling, equipment rentals, and even payroll and billing can be completed with a few mouse clicks, and cancellations and changes become far easier to manage.
3. Automated Messaging
Whether you’re using an EMR, facility management system, or a combination of the two, you can save time and avoid headaches by automating the messages sent to physicians and parents. Instead of writing every notification manually, use templates and an automated send-off system to ensure the right people are notified as quickly as possible.
Your athletic trainers may already wear headsets or walkie-talkies on game day, but hands-free devices can be just as useful in the treatment room. At any given time, a trainer may have several athletes to evaluate and treat, as well as multiple calls to make to insurers, physicians, and parents. A simple Bluetooth headset can help them multitask without compromising the quality of care.
5. Quick-Reference Cheat Sheets
Does your staff scramble to find names, phone numbers, and insurance coverage information? To avoid confusion and save time, line your walls with cheat sheets that include the names of players, parents, and physicians, as well as phone numbers and insurance information. Instead of making calls or going online to find out what services are covered, you’ll be able to make the right calls in seconds.
6. Exercise Software
Does your staff spend hours re-teaching exercises to injured athletes? To make life easier for patients and trainers alike, consider exercise software such as Exercise Pro. Teach each movement once in person, and follow up with descriptions and pictures through email or print.
7. Training Room Organization
A well-stocked, well-organized training room is crucial for ATC efficiency, and a few minutes of planning can save hours of trainer time during a rush. Arrange your treatment tables, whirlpools, and other large equipment to allow for maximum foot traffic, and stock consumables in an orderly manner. If possible, keep track of stock and orders with a facility management system.
8. Gameday Kits
To keep your trainers organized and efficient on the field, invest in gameday kits. Sold in several sizes, these bags contain plenty of modules for tape, splints, bandages, cell phones, and everything else your staff might need on the big day.
9. Up-to-date Practices
Athletic training is a fast-growing field, but some facilities are still stuck in the past. To help your staff make the most of their time, invest in their continuing education and allow them to provide the most up-to-date, evidence-based therapies. Ultimately, you’ll see faster returns to play and fewer visits per injury.
10. New Equipment
Finally, one of the best things you can do to save time is replace old and outdated equipment. With sturdy plinths, top-of-the-line ultrasound machines, and brand new compression products, your staff can spend less time using workarounds and more time providing quality care.
Most of these strategies require an upfront investment, but the long-term results are well worth it. If you provide your staff with the tools they need to efficiently provide quality care, you’ll attract great athletic trainers who will stay with your program for years to come.