In any job in the world, it’s all about being represented. If you look professional and well-mannered then your career will probably go a long way. On the other hand, if you always look like a mess, then it’ll hold your career back. The saying “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” is popular because it’s true. As a physician, it’s important to realize that your clothes aren’t the only things that represent you. Your office is another representative of you that patients will be aware and maybe even critical of. More importantly, in your office you have your office staff, whom you need to make sure are up to your high standards.
Hiring the right people can make or break your practice. First of all, you need people you can trust and delegate to. Physicians already have enough on their plates and if they can delegate minor tasks then they can focus on the important things. The important thing is to be careful with the selection process. You need to be able to do this once. Constant turnover in your staff will hurt your practice. Find a few people you can trust and work with in order for your practice to achieve maximum benefit.
When it comes to hiring an office manager or staff members in general, you need to have a general idea of what you’re willing to do and offer before you begin the hiring process. Keep in mind things such as what you’re willing to offer in compensation and outlining job descriptions clearly. Before someone starts, they have to understand what exactly it is they’ll be doing around your office to avoid confusion down the line. When it comes to compensation, be prepared to pay extra for the best. Someone who is only starting will receive much less than someone with experience who can hit the ground running.
Don’t rush to interview right away. As you receive and read applications, take your time as more applications come in and carefully select those you want to come in for an interview. Check their references and call in the more experienced ones for interviews. Your priority should be those who have worked in a medical setting before. Working in a clinic is different from working in any other office and you would rather have someone who is ready for the job than someone who will take time to adapt. During interviews don’t just test experience, but more importantly, test character. An interviewee who comes in looking sharp will probably come to work in the same manner. Ask questions to find out whether or not they’re professional yet pleasant people. These are people who will be dealing with your patients and will therefore be representing you. If patients see that your staff members are unorganized and all over the place then they’re going to think the same of you. We work best with people who are similar to us, and your staff members will be accurate depictions of you and your professionalism.
Besides being well-dressed and having good manners, you also need people who are always on time. When you get to work, you’ll need everything to have been prepared for the start of the day and the arrival of patients. It’s certainly better than having employees arrive after you, or even worse: after patients. Patient waiting time should always be on your mind and if you can’t make it shorter, then you definitely shouldn’t make it longer.
So what exactly are the duties of your staff? Well of course, you’re going to need one or two receptionists to set up appointments with patients, deal with them in person, and make sure everything runs smoothly and according to time. You might want to hire an assistant to prepare patient data for you before a patient comes in. If you’re using software, then you probably won’t need someone to do this. You should of course, hire an office manager to take care of everything else, such as making sure the office has all the supplies it needs and making sure you get paid by insurance companies.
Now that everything is becoming digitalized you should consider hiring an IT specialist. Doctors are moving towards using technology and away from paper. At the beginning you’ll need someone to connect all the computers in the office to the same network to allow the rapid exchange of files, but it might be worth your while to keep him or her around in a permanent position. If the system goes down or any error occurs, you’ll want someone available straightaway. Patients won’t be very understanding if they have to wait a couple of hours while you call someone to come over and fix the problem you’re facing.
Now that you know what you need and how to hire people to do it, the next step after hiring employees is managing and reviewing them. Management isn’t just making sure they do their job, but also making them feel like they’re part of a family. A group of people who like each other will definitely work better together and achieve better outcomes. You can achieve this sense of familiarity by taking them out once a month, for example, for dinner. This will be a great opportunity to meet them all outside work and really get to know each other, which will result in a more positive work environment.
You could also start something like employee of the month. Choose the best employee at the end of each month and get them a gift. This will start healthy competition between your employees, which will also be good for your practice. Spending money on dinners and gifts is far from a waste. By spending money, you’ll be able to get the best out of your employees. This means more productivity, which will reflect in shorter waiting times for patients as well as a more positive atmosphere at the office. Eventually, you’re going to get more clients because of this and in turn more money. You’re basically spending money to make money.
You should also give reviews every once in a while. Maybe you could do it every 3 or 4 months. You can tell each employee what you liked and didn’t like about their performance. That way they can keep doing the former and correct the latter. If an employee is performing poorly, you could call them into your office and have a talk with them to try to figure out what the problem is. If the poor performances persist, then you may need to look for someone to replace them. You don’t need someone in your office with a negative attitude and a poor work ethic.
The phrase “you are what you eat” should be “you are who you hire.” If I go to a doctor and see that his staff don’t really know what they’re doing, then I’m going to think the same thing of him or her. You might be the most professional and organized person in the world, but your patients go through your staff before they get to you. If they’re too bothered by the time they’re in your office, then your staff members aren’t really doing their jobs the way they should.
Even if a patient has been with a doctor for years, but a turnover in staff has resulted in poor scheduling and lots of mix-ups, then that patient may look for another doctor. Be careful who you hire because they can make or break your practice. Hire people so that you can focus on the medicine while they handle the rest.
- Engage in reward schemes to encourage healthy competition.
- Be careful who you hire; they are a reflection of you.
- Invest in dinners and gifts for your staff to boost morale.