Forming Office Policy

Forming Office Policy

All doctors are extremely well trained in their profession. Unfortunately, very few doctors are trained in business or employee handbook policy creation and their appropriate implementation.

Every healthcare practice is a business that provides a beneficial service to its patients and clients. The less the practice owner knows about business management, the less service he or she will be able to deliver. The more he or she knows about practice management, the more successful their practice will be.

Forming office policy is one of the most basic and important practice management tools that any owner can implement to make a more successful practice.

Why is policy so important? Why do we consider it a fundamental practice management tool? The answer is simple but important.

Policy is important because it sets up the group agreements, the rules of the game, the procedures to follow. It is usually based on what has worked and what legal guidelines are important to know and follow. Without good office policy, you get a chaotic environment because people end up making up their own policies. This results in inefficiencies and lack of teamwork.

Policy that is understood, agreed upon and adhered to will strengthen the office and provide the best means to achieve practice goals. Even those policies that are unspoken and assumed to be known should be put in writing. By putting all policies in writing, problems and confusions that could otherwise surface will be curtailed and even eliminated. Additionally, in this litigious world, having written office policies that are attested to as read and understood provides a layer of protection from potential disgruntled employees who have violated the policies.

Policy is vital to achieving teamwork, cooperation and efficient coordination in any group activity. If everyone knows the rules of the game, the game is much more easily played. These rules and procedures are outlined in office policies.

Request Part II Instantly: Real Office Policy Examples and Checklist

hot-tips-tps-checkbox-1

Request Part II: Real Office Policy Examples and Checklist

  • NOTE: To avoid receiving duplicate Hot Tips, enter the email address that you received this Hot Tip.

Leadership Attributes and Management Qualities

As the owner of a practice, you need to ask yourself about your own leadership attributes and management qualities:

  • Are you a good leader?
  • Do you run from conflict?
  • Are you able to motivate your staff?
  • Is your office a harmonious environment, or is it filled with conflict?
  • Do you feel that your staff “own” their jobs, or do they just punch in and out?
  • Do you ever feel “held hostage” by your staff?
  • Are you running your practice, or is your practice running you?

These are areas that you should look at in your practice. Most doctors are not trained in leadership and executive skills. Because of this, they often find themselves in management situations in which they are not sure what to do.

If your leadership skills are lacking, you can easily end up with poor staff performance, unhappy patients, unneeded stress, and lost income.

Believe it or not…

Believe it or not, staff members like to do a good job. They like to know their jobs and improve on them, and they like to be acknowledged for a job well done. Simply put, they like to prove their competence.

We use the following maxim:

The Morale of the Staff Is Based Upon Their Individual and Office Production.

This may seem obvious, but let’s take a look at why this is so. When anyone produces a good product, it is a reflection of their competence. A demonstration of competence raises the morale of any individual. As a leader, you have an opportunity to enable your staff to prove their competence and thus increase their personal morale and happiness. This will then snowball into more successes, more confidence for the staff, and thus more competence and morale in the workplace.

So, how does one go about becoming a good leader? Is there a magic personality trait that some are blessed with and some just aren’t? Luckily, that is not the case. Leadership skills can be taught, and with practice, they can be put into use in daily life.

The first quality a good leader has to have is the ability to confront situations. In this sense, the definition of confront is the ability to face up to situations. If you are the type of doctor that runs and hides from conflict and staff problems, then you are in need of some work in this area.

If you are having a problem with confronting, what should you do? First, decide that you are going to face up to the problem. Simply take a moment and make the decision. Spend a few minutes to do this simple step. It is very helpful.

Now, grab someone – a friend, your spouse, or a colleague and do some role playing on the problem. Have the other person play the part of the troublesome individual, and have him or her hit you hard with back-talk, new problems, can’t-be-dones, etc. Be sure to do this drill until you find that you are more confident and actually feel a bit excited about trying out your new skills and presentation. You will be surprised at how easily the situation will resolve once you do this.

Remember, your staff can’t and won’t follow you if you don’t lead them.

Request Part II of This Article:

You’re in luck! We’ve just completed Part II of this article, and you can receive it instantly by filling out the form to the right.

Click here to request Part II instantly! Request Part II

hot-tips-tps-checkbox-1 Receive Part II of this article instantly! Simply fill out the form below (highly recommended).

A Few Topics of Part II:

  • Staff Meetings
  • Setting Goals and Targets
  • Office Policy

From the Editor

Hello and thanks for taking the time to stop by The Practice Solution Magazine. My name is Ken DeRouchie and I am the newly appointed editor of the magazine and this is my first From The Editor article.

Ten years ago, in 2002, I helped launch this magazine and bring it from concept to fully functioning web magazine. In the past 10 years I’ve also been a contributing writer in every issue.

I’d like to give you a little of my history. In July of 1990 I came to work for Silkin Management Group and have been an analyst for the company ever since. I spend much of my day talking to doctors from all over North America about the challenges they are facing in private practice. I help them pin point the causes of these issues and give them recommendations and solutions to these problems.  (For more information about Silkin, visit the website at www.silkinmanagementgroup.com)

I also have a background in writing so, combining my experience working with doctors and my past writing,  It was a natural progression for me to get involved with the magazine.

In this issue of the magazine we have addressed problems ranging from staffing, employee conflicts, case acceptance, net profit as well as other topics.  I hope that we have offered some sound advice to you that will help you with some of these issues.

In past issues of this magazine there has been a mix of practice management related articles as well as articles about clinical issues impacting doctors and patients alike. In this issue and future issues I plan to focus on just practice management aspects that impact practice owners.

I welcome your feedback and would love to hear from you. Feel free to email me at kderouchie@silkinmanagementgroup.com or feel free to call me at 800-695-0257.

Sincerely,

Ken DeRouchie
Editor – The Practice Solution

 

How Do You Monitor the Productivity of All Areas of an Office?

How do you effectively measure the productivity of every area of a health care office? For example, how do you objectively know how well your receptionist is doing at his/her job? Do you use the opinion of other staff and/or the receptionist? Do you go by “feel” regarding how many patients are showing versus cancelling or rescheduling? These are not objective measurements. How do you monitor the productivity of all areas of an office?

We suggest a very specific management by statistics system that takes opinion and guesswork out of how each area of a practice is doing by assigning a relevant production statistic to act as a guideline for the area as well as for the staff member responsible for the area. Without these metrics, you are operating the business side of your practice blindly.

As an analogy, no doctor would decide on a treatment plan without properly examining a patient and performing whatever tests are necessary to determine the proper course of action. This is all very scientific and requires specific metrics as part of the examination process.

Running the business side of the practice is no different. You must have a means to measure and thereby “see” factually what is going on throughout the practice. Just as you could not drive your car without its various gauges operational, you cannot run a business without having proper productivity measurements to refer to.

Here are some questions you might ask yourself:

  • Do I have any idea if my treatment plan acceptance is getting better or worse or if it is even in a viable range? Do I have any idea what a viable range for this would be?
  • Do I have any idea if my receptionist is doing a better or worse job of keeping patients to their schedule, other than “it seems busier”?
  • Do I have any idea if our recall procedure is working as well this year as last year?

I can’t emphasize enough how important statistical monitoring is to the management of a practice. As stated above, without proper metrics, you can’t really see what is going on throughout the business side of a practice.

Another key question you might ask yourself:  how do you determine what the correct monitoring statistic is for an area or job position? The answer to that is something more basic, and that is determining what the actual product is that should be produced by that position or area.

In sales this is usually easy to see. For example, the product of a car salesman is a sold car and his statistic would simply be the number of cars sold.

That one is easy. But what about a receptionist in a health care office? What’s her product? And what statistic measures that?

Here are some ideas you can use for this position in terms of product and statistic for a receptionist:

Product: A patient who arrives at the agreed upon time
Statistic: Percent of patients kept to schedule

or

Product: Sufficiently full appointment book to keep the office at or above its needed production target.
Statistic: Percent of the appointment book filled

I hope this example gives you an idea on how this basic management tool works. If you want to properly manage your practice, you must be able to easily see the productivity in any area or job position and not operate on “feel” or “how it seems”.

Here’s another example – one for your collections area:

Product: Patient fees collected in a timely manner.

It seems like that would be an excellent product for the collection area to accomplish. If the area accomplished this product regularly, the income of the office should be in good shape with very low receivables.

Now, how would one best measure that so one could actually manage the area by a metric? There are several stats that would give you a good measurement of how the area is doing:

a) Total collections received.
b) Total accounts receivables over thirty days (Graphed as a reverse graph with zero at the top)
c) Percent of collections to services.

Needless to say, one would have to use some “smarts” when looking at the second statistical graph as it would also need to be compared to the production in an office. Obviously if the office’s production was rising, the total receivables would likely be rising too, so a comparative analysis would have to be made. The third statistic above helps with this.

The third statistic is based upon a formula that we’ve worked out that compares several month’s collections to several month’s worth of services, with a time factor built in depending upon the type of practice, how much insurance is used and some other factors.

Again, the first thing you need to do with any area or job position is to determine exactly what the product that area or job should be producing. This may take some figuring out by carefully inspecting the job or area in terms of what you really need coming out of the area.

When managing by statistics you not only have a way to look at what has occurred, but you will now have a way to effectively correct and revert “down” areas. If you can see that, for example, the gross income of the practice has taken a dip and you can look at the other statistics of the practice you can usually find out why. You may find that the percentage of kept appointments has been going down. If less people are keeping their appointments, less income will be generated. Now you have an actual target for correction in the practice. Find out what is causing less people to keep their appointments, correct this problem and you’ll get your gross income back into the proper range.

It’s very important to not let a staff member tell you “people just aren’t coming in” or “I’m doing everything I can, it’s just gone down”. That is just an excuse. Look at when the statistic started to drop and then find out what changed. Maybe a new front desk person was hired and they are scheduling appointments differently than the old person was. Maybe the front desk person changed what they were saying when scheduling appointments. Maybe you changed your hours of operation and that has affected scheduling. Whatever the case, find out what changed and revert it.

Please note: this does not mean that you take the important human element out of your practice. I’ve heard people say that watching statistics takes the “humanity” out of a practice. These are not mutually exclusive activities! The “human element” is more important than anything else as it is people, working together as a team in a mutually created enjoyable work place that makes a practice a fun, pleasant and productive place to work. But, at the same time, you must also be able to logically see how the productivity of each area and job position of a practice is doing or you won’t be able to manage the practice as a whole and take care of your staff.

Letting a staff member flounder around, not really knowing how they are doing, is not a fair way to treat any staff member. Neither is letting a poorly producing staff member attack in subtle or not so subtle ways a good producing staff member. Having a proper statistical monitoring system in place helps your staff know how they are doing and protects the good producers. That makes a happy and productive place to work.

 

Larry Silver

The practice Solution Magazine is published by www.silkinmanagementgroup.com

 

From the Editor

Hello and thanks for taking the time to stop by The Practice Solution Magazine. My name is Ken DeRouchie and I am the newly appointed editor of the magazine and this is my first From The Editor article.

Ten years ago, in 2002, I helped launch this magazine and bring it from concept to fully functioning web magazine. In the past 10 years I’ve also been a contributing writer in every issue.

I’d like to give you a little of my history. In July of 1990 I came to work for Silkin Management Group and have been an analyst for the company ever since. I spend much of my day talking to doctors from all over North America about the challenges they are facing in private practice. I help them pin point the causes of these issues and give them recommendations and solutions to these problems.  (For more information about Silkin, visit the website at www.silkinmanagementgroup.com)

I also have a background in writing so, combining my experience working with doctors and my past writing,  It was a natural progression for me to get involved with the magazine.

In this issue of the magazine we have addressed problems ranging from staffing, employee conflicts, case acceptance, net profit as well as other topics.  I hope that we have offered some sound advice to you that will help you with some of these issues.

In past issues of this magazine there has been a mix of practice management related articles as well as articles about clinical issues impacting doctors and patients alike. In this issue and future issues I plan to focus on just practice management aspects that impact practice owners.

I welcome your feedback and would love to hear from you. Feel free to email me at kderouchie@silkinmanagementgroup.com or feel free to call me at 800-695-0257.

Sincerely,

Ken DeRouchie
Editor – The Practice Solution

Hiring Interview Questions

In some of our articles in this and past Practice Solution issues we’ve discussed handling different types of difficult job-interviewemployees. The best solution to a problem employee, though, is to not hire them in the first place. The right hiring interview questions can help you determine that from the get go.

Easy to say, but how do you do that?

Although there is no perfect method, there are many different screening and hiring techniques including proper ads, group interviews and using the right type of testing that will greatly increase your odds of finding the best potential employee. This article is not written to detail those steps, but using such steps will help you reduce your candidate pool to several good prospects. At that point you’ll want to individually interview them.

Interviewing is a skill unto itself. As part of that process it helps to have a template of questions to use when you go into such an interview. Below are 15 basic questions one can use to help determine motivation and willingness, two essential points in finding the best potential staff member.

MOTIVATION AND WILLINGNESS

This is a key area to get a very good feel for when hiring. Motivated and willing staff are easy to train, usually no matter their background, and are great to work with. The less motivated and willing they are, the worse potential employee they will be. Given that they are looking for a job, they will likely attempt to appear to be motivated and willing. You must, through questioning, attempt to find the truly willing versus the ones who may just be paying it lip service. Below are some questions you can use that will help in this area.

  1. Why do you want to work here? What is it you are looking for?
  2. What kind of job supervision do you prefer?
  3. Are you willing to attend seminars to enhance job training?
  4. Do you like to work by yourself or have others around?
  5. How do you work under pressure?
  6. What are your weaknesses?
  7. What in your background particularly qualifies you for this job?
  8. Why have you applied for this job?
  9. What kind of pay are you looking for?
  10. Would you prefer a job situation with a stable wage with standard incremental increases or a job situation in which your base pay was perhaps slightly lower, but with the opportunity to make much more by setting and meeting performance goals.
  11. If you were an employer and had an employee who was not responding well to high demands, how would you handle this situation?
  12. What is the most difficult thing you have ever had to overcome in your life?
  13. How did you overcome this?
  14. Would the hours of this job present any hardship for you or your family?
  15. What have you done in the past 90 days to improve yourself?

Having the right staff makes a big difference in whether or not you have an efficient, productive and profitable practice. Try using the above questions to help you find the most motivated and willing employee.

The practice Solution Magazine is published by www.silkinmanagementgroup.com

=

Generating New Patients by Using Surveys

How do you market for new patients in a cost efficient and effective manner? Internal marketing is always the best avenue to begin with as it produces the most cost effective return, which is of utmost importance in managing a practice. Surveys are one method of internal marketing. But how do you go about generating new patients by using surveys?

Here’s an initial tip that you can use to more effectively market. You can do a simple survey with all new patients that come in to find out what brought them to your practice. This can be done as part of their new patient intake forms or verbally done by the receptionist or any other designated staff member.

We have a variety of prepared surveys for our clients to use. Here are some question types you can use to make your own survey:

  • If you were referred, who referred you and what did they say that interested you in our office?
  • If you responded to an ad, which one did you see? What about it attracted you?
  • If you responded to our website, how did you locate it and what about it interested you?

A second tip is the use of surveys on your existing patient base. Start by going through your existing patient records and find about 50 of your “A List” patients/clients. Do a demographic study of where your best patients/clients are from. Then write a survey for those patients/clients and find out:

  • What attracted them to your practice?
  • What keeps them coming back to your practice?
  • What do they like the most about your practice?
  • Are there any services they would like to receive from you that you don’t currently offer?

You can then use this information to target the greatest demographic area of your “A List” patients/clients and use their survey answers as “hot buttons” in a marketing campaign targeted to generate more patients/clients that are similar to these “A List” patients/clients.

This is called targeted marketing. It’s all about generating quality patients and clients, not just people walking through the door. Quality patients keep their appointments, follow your treatment programs, pay their bills, spend more than their insurance allotment etc. These are the kinds of patients/clients you want to generate for your practice.

If you can determine what area your best patients/clients are from and what brought them to you in the first place, you can then design a marketing campaign to generate more of those type of patients and clients.

Don’t just guess at what you think will bring new patients/clients in the door. Find out what got your best patients/clients there and use that information to your advantage. “Know before you go” is the motto of all good marketing. You find out the “know” by surveying.

Ken DeRouchie

The practice Solution Magazine is published by www.silkinmanagementgroup.com

The Benefits of Regular Practice Newsletters

Marketing is a vital part of the management of any business, whether a health care practice or any business in general. Implementing successful marketing actions that help increase the number of new patients/clients as well as help facilitate the retention of existing clients and patients is important to the success of any practice. Are you taking advantage of the benefits of regular practice newsletters as part of your marketing activities?

One of the best and least expensive tools in your marketing “tool box” is the newsletter. A newsletter is a tool that can be used to reach not only existing patients/clients, but potential patients/clients as well. As an internal device, it is an excellent way to stay in touch with your patients/clients and keep your name, your practice and your brand in their mind on a regular basis.

A practice newsletter provides advantages for the practice that other promotional and marketing methods don’t always offer. It provides a simple and compact way to communicate a longer message and can easily be put onto your website as well. It also creates a perfect forum for continuing education.

In years past, creating a newsletter involved costly printing and postage. In today’s computer driven society, most of us have a home computer allowing for email newsletters to be used. Email newsletters have a much higher likelihood of being seen and read by your intended audience as it shows up right in front of them when they open their email program. It’s simple math: they more of them that are seen, the more of them that will be read.

Here are two other major advantages of regular newsletters:

  •  The more contact you have with your current patients/clients, the more likely they are to respond to recall reminders and schedule appointments. Familiarity breeds response.
  • Email newsletters give you the opportunity to market for referrals and generate new patients/clients.

Here are a couple of inexpensive but feature rich services we recommend for email newsletters.

Constant Contact: www.constantcontact.com

Campaigner: www.campaigner.com

Neither of these services requires any kind of programming knowledge. They are very simple to use. You simply create a user account and then log into it. You can then pick from hundreds of pre-made newsletter templates which also allow for customization with your own graphics. You can cut and paste your own content into the template and save.

The maintenance of the database is simple and automated. You can upload your email data base list as a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet or as a comma delimited text file. Once the newsletter is sent, the people on your list have the ability to remove themselves from the list with just one click if they don’t want any future emails. If there are any bad email addresses on the list, they will show up in the statistics as “bounced” emails and you can remove them.

Both of these services offer good statistical tracking of the emails you send – i.e. how many were opened, what links people clicked on, etc. so you can see what people find of greatest interest. This is useful in tailoring future newsletters.

The cost for these services is extremely low. They both work on a sliding scale, depending on how many email addresses you have in your database. The starting range for up to 500 email addresses is only about $15-20 per month! That’s a far cry from only 10 years ago when putting a hard copy newsletter together and mailing it to your patient/client data base could easily cost more than $1000.

If you aren’t now sending out regular (monthly or quarterly) newsletters, we highly recommend that you begin doing so. If you do so you’ll find greater patient retention and more referrals walking through your front door.

Ken DeRouchie

The practice Solution Magazine is published by www.silkinmanagementgroup.com