Reviewed by Derek A. Preece, MBA
For any practice striving for greatness, its fortunes are closely tied to its people. As a result, it is imperative for management to put staff in the best position to succeed. Derek A. Preece, MBA, discussed five ways to manage a successful practice. The system works well to get employees moving in the right direction.
It also can be effective in handling difficult employee situations. Virtually every practice has systems in place for checking patients in, and working up patients, as well as for billing and collections.
“When I ask practice administrators if they have a system for leading their staff, they often give me a blank look,” he said. “Practices have systems for everything else, but almost never do they have a system for managing staff.”
A “system” is a step-by-step method for accomplishing work. Systems help us make sure that we are doing everything we need to do to be successful. If there is a problem, the system can be reviewed to determine where a breakdown is occurring. Consistency can be developed.
“A system for leadership will help you lead your employees appropriately,” Preece noted. “It helps define what your responsibility is as an administrator and it helps to limit that responsibility.” Here is the five-step system that Preece cited:
1). Provide the tools
While virtually every office provides computers, equipment and phones, Preece noted that improvements can be made in forms and processes, improving communications between departments.
2). Provide the training
Training is key because it helps physicians or practice administrators reveal their expectations to employees.
“You let them know what you expect them to get out of the training,” Preece explained.
Training concepts such as “spaced repetition” can be used to help staff get a handle on new tasks. Spaced repetition incorporates training that is repeated over several weeks or months to provide employees time to absorb the new processes and put them into action.
Managers should model appropriate interactions between staff and patients to set an example. Most practices find that they need to teach people skills to their staff in addition to the business tasks they are required to perform.
Derek A. Preece, MBA
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This article was adapted from Preece’s presentation at the American Academy of Ophthalmic Executives annual meeting. He has no financial interests or relationships to disclose. Allergan is a client of BSM Consulting.