Tag Archives: Employee Retention

Your Front Desk Staff Are Your Flight Navigators

Can your front desk be a profit center for your practice? Yes, but there are instances where physicians may not know what is happening out in the waiting room while they are taking care of patients. Any practice will have some bumps in the road with employees, but physicians must be conscious about checking in with every member of their team. When there is a lack of communication between the physician and staff, patients will feel the negative impact. How well the front desk operates could make or break your practice. The front desk is the first in line to a patient’s access to care making it one of many important elements in patient satisfaction. The front desk staff are the navigators of your practice and staying in tune with them to see how the practice is operating on a day to day basis not only keeps patients happy but helps retain them as well.

First impressions count–When a patient walks into the waiting room they are either walking into a warm and inviting environment or a stark and cold one. How you present your practice to the patients starts way before you see them in the exam room. For the receptionist a patient’s visit starts with the same, and sometimes monotonous, procedures like asking for insurance information, paperwork and answering questions. Receptionists may also be responsible for answering the phones as well, adding extra stress to an already busy schedule. Even though there might be high call volume and patients in the waiting room, this is not an excuse for the front desk to act exasperated by patients. If the practice is large, this might be a good time to suggest hiring candidates specifically for phone triage. If the practice is small, create a way to delegate responsibilities at the front desk. Instead of having all receptionists answer the phones make it only one or two people’s job. If the office runs smoothly patients are much more likely to feel comfortable about the capabilities of the physician. Some physicians may not feel like their staff is a direct reflection of them and this is a common mistake. You might value patient satisfaction as a physician, but if the front desk is doing a mediocre job patients will think that you must not care as well. Patients are much more likely to return to an office where receptionists, medical assistants, nurses and physicians work well with one another. If a patient is frustrated after dealing with disgruntled employees this will take away from important time spent with the physician. What can be done to remedy this?

For starters, physicians need to be aware of what’s going on in every aspect of their practice. Having weekly staff meetings where you discuss proper protocols for face-to-face and telephone communications with patients are a must. You’d be surprised by how many practices do not take the time to do this and it shows. Schedule one day a week where staff is able to come in 15-20mins before the days begins and use that time to have a meeting. This should be something that is understood by both current and prospective employees. You need people who want to be a part of a team and who respect that you are staying on top of what goes on in the office. Another way to ensure the practice is functioning well is by having a formal orientation for new employees making sure there is a set time for training at the start of employment. Training could take two weeks or possibly more depending on the job responsibilities. During this time period new employees should have ample time to learn what is expected of them from them professionally and how to carry out job responsibilities in an effective and timely manner.

Following-up with patients means much more than the physician calling after the original appointment. It means staying on top of follow-up appointments and referrals. It also means keeping in touch with patients. Receptionists should be responsible for collecting both phone numbers and emails to reach patients. Technology is much more advanced than it was even a decade ago and using it to your advantage will be beneficial. Sending out e-newsletters introducing new physicians to your patients or services your office has to offer is one way of keeping patients in the loop. Healthcare is a service industry so take the time to make sure your staff is cultivating long-term patient relationships.

If your practice is being managed properly then learning and professional development will be valued. All employees, whether they are receptionists, medical assistants, nurses or physicians, should undergo training for how to respond and engage with patients. The waiting room might just be the start of a patient’s visit, but it says a lot about how the office runs on a daily basis. If there are major issues in the waiting room physicians are unaware of that makes the patient think that there is very little communication between the physicians and the receptionists. When all employees are on the same page regarding how to care for patients then you will see the organization flow from check-in, treatment and follow-up.

You Can’t Manage What Your Don’t Measure

Managing effectively is reliant upon understanding how your business is performing. Knowing if your employees are performing up to par or if the business is bringing in revenue does not just happen overnight. Whether you are looking to measure job performance, finances or compliance it is never too late to start. As a business owner establishing the protocols to measure these aspects of your company should be put into place as soon as possible.

Your business may be in need of organizational change. Starting with the hiring process you can use performance metrics to define job responsibilities and communicate expectations. Using software to measure the incoming and outgoing calls in the office can help you stay on top of how quickly the phones are being answered and if people are being transferred to the correct employee. You can tell a lot about the business by how well the telephone communication is working.

The office atmosphere is an important factor for long-term success. High employee retention rates and productivity are signs that there is effective management in place. Metrics are not able to tell an employer how to fix a problem, they can highlight where improvements are needed but coming up with ways to mend the problem comes from the employer. Metrics alone cannot make employees work harder or more efficiently, but they are great for seeing what is working well and what is not.

Using metrics as a way to balance your business can have lasting effects if you are using them properly. Evaluation of job performance and management is crucial. How are you going to evaluate current systems you have in place? Compliance is one way to assess how well your metrics are working. Do the employees and employers comply with financial and personal metrics? When people are not compliant there might be a lack of motivation. Management’s responsibility is to help people reach specific goals. Find out what motivates people to work while keeping in line with performance criteria you have in place.

Managers have to stay on top of how well their business is functioning. Measuring job performance, financial gains and losses and job specific responsibilities will make it difficult for outliers to slip through the cracks. Metrics allow you to be in control over daily operations and reach long-term goals.

Five Steps for Changing Medical Practice Patterns

The initial startup for a practice can be overwhelming and hectic. The staff needs to be hired and trained; but, what happens down the line when your practice starts to grow but there are many inefficiencies? Changing bad habits is time consuming but not impossible. Here are five steps for creating a more productive work environment for you and your staff.

1) Don’t Overlook the Small Stuff
All too often medical practices make the mistake of hiring people who don’t fit the job description. For instance, hiring a nurse for a private practice when he/ she wants OR time and prefers a hospital environment. At first, it may not seem like a huge deal but eventually this will become a problem. Taking the extra time to recruit the right person will save more money in the long run and boost revenue. Patients want to feel like they are the priority; hiring the right medical staff is one key to a successful practice.

2) Changing Behavior and Attitudes
A competent practice manager can help diffuse disagreements between doctors and staff. If one doctor refuses to work evening or Saturday hours, forcing the other doctors to pick up the slack, this can impact a practice negatively. Weekly meetings should be held in order to ensure all staff is on the same page. If issues arise, the medical staff should feel secure that any problem will be handled professionally and in a timely manner.

3) Understanding Different Physician Personalities
Every physician has a different ways of working and connecting with patients. Some Physicians are task oriented and enjoy seeing as many patients as possible. Other physicians might be research oriented and enjoy having the time to write journal articles or attend continuing education seminars. Every doctor serves a purpose in the practice. It’s important to understand that even though every doctor is different there is no reason why they can’t work together. Having different personalities in the workplace can be have a positive impact if they are managed properly.

4) Apply the Framework
Incentivizing medical staff from the beginning of employment will help keep bad habits at bay. Remember, even though incentivizing is important, making sure there are consequences for poor behavior is just as important. Make sure the medical staff has the correct guidelines to follow from the start of their employment. In order to increase revenue, the medical staff must work efficiently.

5) Look Ahead
Don’t just focus on the current day or month, focus on the future as well. Plan ahead for your practice, but be flexible enough to make changes when they are necessary. There will be less surprises down the road and less chances for your practice to fall short.

Management Tips for Physician Practice Owners

Practice management is the most significant aspect of a well-organized office. The recruiters at SpineSearch know how important it is for a practice to have great management in order to retain employees. This week we will focus on steps you need to take towards effective practice management.

In order to manage your practice well, you have to establish a well drafted manual of policies your employees will follow. Use probationary periods and have a formal hiring process. If you have a system for hiring, you are less likely to hire employees that will not meet the criteria you are looking for. These tasks may seem difficult but there are huge benefits in establishing an office that runs efficiently.

Set up a meeting for your staff and show both new and experienced employees the new policies. Make sure everyone is on board and understands why you are enforcing these policies. Your goal is to create an office environment that is both positive and structured. Your employees need to feel like they are being heard just as much as you need to feel like you are in charge.

Aim for a healthy sense of control; you know what your employees are up to and they feel like they can come to you with any issues or concerns they have about their jobs. Communication goes a long way in an office setting; you can retain employees better if you establish a good working relationship with them.

Practice management can feel like a daunting task, but if you start out with a clear set of standards before you hire your next employee you will see a huge improvement in the overall flow of your office.

Here are four steps to remember:

1) Empower and Inform: Practice owners should monitor employees in a constructive way.
2) Talk and Listen to People: Spend one-on-one time with employees. The more you know about your practice, the better it will function.
3) Let People Work at their Highest Purpose: Give positive reinforcement. Encourage your employees to take on more responsibilities at work.
4) Follow up and Be Consistent: Set specific goals and timelines, have weekly meetings to catch up with what everyone is working on.

Tips for keeping your medical staff HAPPY!

Tips for keeping your medical employees HAPPY!

1. Clearly defined job descriptions and clearly defined chain of command

Many medical practices often delegate responsibilities in a very informal manner/process. This is a recipe for disaster in any large practice and or growing practice. Consider listing project priorities for your practice that are receiving attention because you’re working around staff that haven’t previously had defined job rolls and or responsibilities. SpineSearch recommends creating an organizational chart and chain of command diagram and a job description for every roll within your office.

2.Establishment of Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

A formal system includes employee goals, assessments of substantive accomplishments and behaviors, peer reviews, goals and prioritities, support needed from our staff. KPIs are important so employees know, before undertaking the job or project, exactly what is needed to be done and what an acceptable outcome is.

3. Reward those who go above and beyond
Reward those that work extra hours, are extremely resourceful, and or go outside of their job description to complete tasks for the office. Monetary rewards are not always the most successful. Try giving half days, dinner on the office, peer recognition…and don’t limit the rewards to individuals. Your office should also have team goals/descriptions — these groups can and should be rewarded.

4. Continuing education / opportunity for self improvement & advancement

In this era of health care reform it is extremely challenging to keep up with changing laws, regulations, reimbursement guidelines, daily operations and daily practice demands. By keeping employees current in each of their individual fields it helps to ensure the entire office is up to par with changes. This process also helps let employees know that you are investing in them and the betterment of their individual careers. Don’t just focus on clinical or required education. Look for education on customer service, disaster planning, patient flow, time management….

5. Have Fun!

FUN in the job place can go a lot longer than most administrators would think. Celebrate events such as birthdays, anniversaries, child birth, holidays and office specific accomplishments. If you are undergoing a big task, such as converting to an EMR system, order food for the office, give a small gift to each member of the team before the process begins (thanking them for their committing to the successful accomplishment of the task), or go out for an office dinner/drinks as a FUN event.