Star Search-ophthalmology edition

February 15, 2007
Bill Gillette

Smithtown, NY-The old saw "It's hard to find good help these days" may hold some truth. It's not because solid, qualified, hard-working people aren't looking for jobs. The trick, says James Rienzo, is finding them-and that takes an organized, systematic approach.

Smithtown, NY-The old saw "It's hard to find good help these days" may hold some truth. It's not because solid, qualified, hard-working people aren't looking for jobs. The trick, says James Rienzo, is finding them-and that takes an organized, systematic approach.

Rienzo, an eye-care business adviser with Allergan Inc., discussed the methodical approach to the hiring process during a recent presentation titled "Recruiting and Hiring Good Employees."

"You have to know what your objectives are when you're looking to hire quality employees," he said. "There are a number of questions you have to ask yourself first, and then find the answers."

Assess your needs

"There are several signs that make themselves very apparent-red flags, if you will-indicating it's time to hire someone," Rienzo said. "Obviously, if someone leaves, you probably need to replace them. But also look for employees being overworked, always getting out of the office late, not getting patients through the system in a timely manner, or when someone calls in sick and it throws the whole day into turmoil. Those are all signs that you're understaffed.

"The really big red flag is patient waiting time. If that's too long, you've got a problem that needs to be fixed fast," Rienzo emphasized.

Once a need is identified-especially when the problem is patient wait time-the practitioner or manager must determine exactly what will be required of a new employee to fill that need. Rienzo suggested using various benchmarks.

"Scheduling efficiency is a crucial benchmark," he said. "Aim for getting new patients into the office within 10 to 14 days and established patients in 14 to 21 days. Then look at patient throughput measures-how long it takes to get a patient through the system. Set a benchmark of 50 to 80 minutes total and figure out how many employees you'll need to reach that goal."

Another benchmark is billing. "If you do billing in-house, you need one full-time biller for each $750,000 in collections," Rienzo said.

Once needs are identified and the number of new employees needed to reach benchmarks is decided, the next step is creating job descriptions. "This is a very important factor," Rienzo said, "because it helps simplify your decision on who will be right for a particular job."

The ideal job description should be about a page long, he said, and should include a clear, concise description of the position; the staff person to whom the new employee will report; and a summary of the training, experience, and skills the new employee will need to perform the job effectively.

Advertising is key to the process of finding the right person for the jobs that need to be filled. "First of all, make sure you differentiate your ad," Rienzo said. "Make it stand out. Use colors, use words that attract, and don't skimp on the fee you'll be paying to create your ad. Also, be consistent in how and where the ads are placed."