Best practice management: success from A to Z

October 1, 2008

The best practices learn how to hire, train, and retain the best staff, manage patient and staff issues and physician relationships according to Ian Maltzman the administrator for Fromer Eye Centers in New York City. Because Fromer Eye Centers has a very complex organizational structure, including a president, administrator, and a chief operating officer, Maltzman has had to find ways to manage the complex structure.

Key Points

New York-"The best practices learn how to hire, train, and retain the best staff and manage patient and staff issues and physician relationships," said Ian Maltzman, administrator for Fromer Eye Centers, New York. An office manager for years, Maltzman has adapted many ways to instill best practices in a practice.

Because Fromer Eye Centers has a very complex organizational structure, including a president, an administrator, and a chief operating officer, Maltzman has had to find ways to manage the complex structure. "The technical manager works in the different offices, and that's really important-to have a hands-on manager that goes to different offices. I think that's one of the reasons why we've been so successful. An important and unique position is the outreach manager, who works with referring doctors and tracks which doctors are sending patients, how often they are sent, and inquires if the doctors have stopped their referrals."

As the business grew, the need for part-time workers did, as well. "I would encourage anyone who has part-time work to hire college students; they are very efficient and have flexible schedules," Maltzman said.

The success of his business has been built around effective recruitment. "We use one recruiter primarily, who knows our business," Maltzman stated. "The rates for recruiters in the New York City area are between 8% and 15%. This is always negotiable. The way I would encourage you to negotiate is to say that you want a long-term relationship, and then maybe you can work something out with the rate. We have found this to be very effective."

"Another effective way of recruitment for us is our internship programs for laboratory technicians. The way they work is that the internship is about 2 months long, and it's an unpaid internship where the intern works about 40 hours per week," said Maltzman. "Interns work in one or two of our offices, they shadow our senior technicians, and over time they are able to perform tests."

"What's good for us is that it serves as a probationary period for them so that at the end of the 2 months, if we like them, it's an opportunity for us to bring them on," said Maltzman. "If we feel this is not a good fit for our organization, the internship is over, and there's no hard feelings or termination of an employee."

By hiring staff with experience in ophthalmology and optometry rather than other field experience, the learning curve for laboratory technicians is shortened because they already have experience and can "speak the language" of the business. The practice's interview process, for those not involved in the internship, is very interactive. The candidate spends a few hours shadowing the doctor, allowing the hiring manager to observe how well he/she interacts with patients and the doctors.

Retention

"Obviously, hire really good people and make them feel appreciated. One thing that we did recently is that we had an orientation dinner for one of the new IOL implants," said Maltzman. "We did this after work and we paid the staff for their time. It was a mandatory program. They got a great dinner out of it, and overall it was a really great time because it brought the staff together." Other methods for showing appreciation include: surprise parties, sending flowers, taking the staff to a baseball game, and recognizing extended years of service. In 2008, Maltzman plans to implement a policy that gives any employee who has been there for more than 5 years an extra day of vacation time.

To improve employee morale, Maltzman makes very conscious decisions about employee placement. Rather than putting two conflicting personalities together, he tries to bring together complementary personalities. For example, he may put an outgoing person with someone who is more subtle and shy because there is more of a chance they will complement each other.

Also, Maltzman makes himself available to his employees 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. His cell phone is never turned off, so employees can contact him for emergencies or just to vent. He also makes himself readily available at work by never closing his office door unless he is interviewing a candidate. This mentality makes the upper office positions seem less intimidating and more open to creating a relationship with the employees, he said.

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