X marks the spot


While at the doctor’s office on Friday, I noticed a small but simple innovation in how they file their patient records. When you pay with a credit card, a standard-looking receipt comes out of the credit card terminal. One copy is for the patient and the other is for the office. Absent any other instructions, the billing clerk would probably staple their copy to your chart or some random document. This adds bulk to the records (those staples add up) and makes the credit card receipts harder to find if there’s ever a dispute over the payment.

Whoever designed their receipts was well aware of these problems. Instead of leaving things to chance, they printed a special box on each letter-sized patient receipt, and made sure the box closely matches the size of the credit card receipts. In the box or nearby, there are instructions saying to tape the receipt down in that location. By providing a visual guide and clear instructions, the doctor’s office ensures that the records are kept together in a way that reduces storage space requirements and fosters easy retrieval down the road.

It’s pretty easy to see the benefits of this approach in other areas of business. Whenever you are asking your employees or customers to complete a task, give them a visual guide that says what to do and how to do it. Don’t rely on past training or the online help if correct task completion is highly important to you. By saying something as simple as “Tape the credit card receipt in this box”, you can make things easier for the person doing the task and reap the benefits of a job done right every time.