Troubled by staff flow issues?

April 15, 2011

If you feel that you have flow issues in your office, stop being the technician's safety valve for poor behavior.

One of my fellow technologists was the most frenetic person that I have ever met. She was constantly in motion-always had charts piled sky high on her desk and was always moving quickly through the clinic with three large clinic charts in her arms. She would do this while stating in a voice, just loud enough to be deciphered, that it was such a busy day.

After a few weeks I started to notice that the doctors came to me with add-on visual fields and refractions because the other two technologists were way too busy to accommodate add-ons.

Eventually, when I became a supervisor, I swore that the only charts that would be consistently carried from room to room would be by the medical records staff.

We all have "chart carriers" in our offices, and we also all have "chart checkers." What is a chart checker?

That is a technician who picks up a chart when the doctor is near, and then sets the chart down so he or she can go get a drink of water or use the restroom after the doctor goes into an exam room. He or she always looks busy; he or she scurries about. But he or she rarely takes the patient of the chart he or she pick ups.

Sadly, the doctor sees the scurrying and assumes that there is also sweat on the brow. There is sweat-it belongs to the technicians who actually have a patient attached to the chart.

Try this to prove me wrong. Keep a sheet with the names of your staff on it. Throughout a 2- to 3-day period, check who's seeing the patients. You then will see quickly that you need to teach your team to line dance.

Unflattering as it may seem-all offices have these folks, and when I visit an office, it does not take long to spot the behavior.

These are the technicians always holding a chart but never going into a room with the patient. They are always returning a phone call, but never talking with a patient in the clinic. They are always getting a room ready for a patient, but never doing the test on the patient. They always have a question for the doctor about a patient but they don't have the actual patient.

These technicians are always in the doctor's view and ready to be highly helpful if a buzzer is rung. Because they are constantly free, they are the first to answer the bell and be ever so helpful to the one that signs the checks.

They also are number one on the office hit list and are always the most protected. Why? Because they are so helpful and always available to the doctor while the other technicians do the brunt of the actual work.