I f your practice isn’t exactly the well-oiled machine that it should be, it’s time for some serious maintenance. But you need the right tools – and the best place to look is in the toolkits of practices with proven operations records.
Experts advise that becoming a practice leader means adopting the following strategies to make your office run more smoothly:
1. Take care of your staff. Practices with low turnover are places where employees are valued and where there’s a climate of mutual respect. “You can't just be nice to the patient. You have to be nice to the people who work there. Be nice to your neighbors, your landlord, and your co-tenants; be nice to yourself, to one another before you can be nice to the patients.”
Invest in your employees and you’ll reap financial rewards, it’s rare to see a practice where you get that good feeling and find that they’re not doing well financially. Keep your office happy and your patients and practice will prosper.
Let employees know you value their input, give them respect and you will get respect. One way to accomplish this is to hold in-service meetings with staff to set mutual goals for the week and month ahead. This is why I put such an emphasis on statistics. For every doctor that sends them I look at them, if they don't, I know their practice; their success level is not up to their potential. Practices where management and staff don't share common goals suffer lots of infighting. We need to be constructive, not destructive, in these meetings. These are not gripe sessions; they need to be happy and beneficial. In my office we brought in pizza and made it a fun environment.
2. Re-strategize, Re-energize your practices. Once you’re clear about the kind of office environment you’re creating, you can employ people who can carry out that vision. One office, one vision. For instance, physicians who want to run everything, micro managers, need to hire people who are comfortable with that management style. However you need to delegate, offer trust to get the maximum from any person. Otherwise you will always be the one holding the bag.
Whether your practice succeeds can depend on you and your management style. When hiring always look for candidates with previous health care office experience who are both collegial and proficient as office assistants. It’s nice to have someone who can work with people and who can bring physicians and staff together, but it’s also critical to have someone who understands budgeting and reimbursement issues.
Rather than sticking to conventional interviewing tactics, I recommend asking potential managers how they would respond to specific incidents that come up in the practice. Create vignettes based on real occurrences to evaluate their judgment and expertise.
3. Emphasize orientation for new patients. Physicians give lots of lip service to patient satisfaction, but in reality satisfaction levels are very low. After so many years in practice, why do so many chiropractors need so many new patients? If patients were happy, if they understood chiropractic, then they should still be coming in once per month. How many patients do you have on this type of schedule? We often give one report of findings and expect the patient to stay forever. No one is that good a salesperson. The key is not being a salesperson at all. One way to set a friendlier tone is for the receptionist to take the time to explain procedures and answer basic questions when a patient calls for a first appointment.
Don’t rely too heavily on your automated answering system. Patients want to speak with someone, not always leave voice messages and wait for calls to be returned. Service is the key to keeping patients and getting referrals. How many referrals did you get last month? Referrals are your barometer of patient results and satisfaction.
Find out why you are not getting paid, and you will find the map to payment.
4. Refine records management methods. Don’t let work pile up. Stay current with bills and reports. You must complete your notes or dictation on the same day you see a particular patient, and have the information transcribed within a day of receipt. Billing people should file all loose papers on the same day they receive them and return every record to the file by the end of the business day. These are simple things that you can do that will make the practice run more smoothly.
5. Streamline data collection procedures. Some physicians think that more is better when it comes to notes, but this is not the case. Don't hesitate to call Perry or myself to discuss your note system. Good notes keep you compliant and help collections.
Doctors should ask the billing people to collaborate and conduct a presentation for the office on what they actually need in the notes and develop templates for doctors to use when charting procedures. Find out why you are not getting paid, and you will find the map to payment.
6. Consult insurance companies for advice. Take advantage of outside resources, including cozying up to your malpractice insurer. Malpractice insurers have legal departments that can be a tremendous help in providing free consultations on such matters as documentation practices and consent forms.
Dr. Eric S. Kaplan, a former President COO of a NASAQ traded public company, which included Nutrisystem, Currently he is CEO of Concierge Coaches, Inc., www.conciergecoaches.com, a comprehensive coaching firm with a successful, documented history of assisting doctors create profitable practices nationwide, providing over 30 New Patient marketing Programs. Teaching doctors nationally how to develop a successful business in the health care industry of today. . Dr. Kaplan is the best selling author of Dying to be Young, and Lifestyle of the Fit and Famous and Co-developer and President of Discforce and Palm Beach Massage Centers, www.pbmassage.info, the next Generation Chiropractic Practices, massage and Spinal decompression For more information on coaching or spinal decompression, call 1-561-626-3004.