Getting Your Staff on the Same Page


This article is a continuation of Critical Practice Foundations. If you haven’t done so yet, we recommend reading the first article to get a better context.

The Staff Meeting

One very important activity you, as the owner, should implement is a regular staff meeting with all of your personnel. This provides regular communication with all of the staff and enables any questions to be addressed in a forum that allows for coordination.

Highlighted below are basic policies for conducting a staff meeting and what the purpose of having a staff meeting is.

Purpose: To provide a predictable time for the entire staff to come together to communicate, focus, plan and coordinate as a team. Staff meetings should be quick, upbeat and productive.

Staff Meeting Policies:

  1. Staff meetings are mandatory. They are the only time during the week when the entire staff can get together as a team to coordinate on important matters.
  2. Designate a specific day and time that staff meetings will be held. The end of the week that just ended or the first part of the new week are the best times.
  3. The office manager (or owner) would run the staff meeting.
  4. Staff meetings will run for about a half hour unless stated otherwise, in which case the staff will be notified in advance.
  5. If the staff meeting is going to be during lunch, make sure that the staff bring their lunch or has arranged for their lunch to be there on time. If the practice is going to pay for lunch, keep the cost low and the choices simple. Appoint someone to be in charge of getting the lunches there on time.
  6. All staff should come to the meeting prepared to report on their area.
  7. Topics of a serious (personal or individual) nature will not be taken up at the staff meeting. Rather, it will be addressed in a private conference with the appropriate staff members.
  8. All staff are expected to participate in the meeting, even if that simply means to politely listen whenever anyone else is talking or presenting material.
  9. Someone will be assigned to keep notes of the meeting and will submit those notes to the office manager each week.

Preparation for the Meeting:

  1. To plan the format ahead of time, the office manager will meet with the owner to determine any special topics that he/she, as the CEO, would like the office manager to cover.
  2. The office manager will have the graphs posted for the major practice areas (production, collections, new patients) and ready to present to the staff.
  3. The office manager will prepare any handouts, e.g., new policies, educational materials, etc. that are intended for staff distribution.
  4. The office manager will look over the notes from the last week’s staff meeting to determine if there is anything that needs to be followed up on from that meeting.
  5. Delegate someone to turn on the answering machine (or service), indicating the time frame that your office will be closed.
  6. The office manager should ensure that the receptionist has gotten the last of the patients checked out and give her a hand if need be (or delegate another staff member to assist her).
  7. Lunch should be ready to go.

Basic Format

  1. Referring to notes from the previous last week’s meeting, the office manager will address anything that is appropriate.
  2. The office manager will go over the graphs, stats and the plan of action based upon the stats, using this time as an opportunity to train the staff a bit more on what the graphs are all about.
    1. When going over the stats, the office manager should get the staff to participate, eliciting their input on how they think things can be improved and strengthened.
    2. Determine if the graphs that are being discussed met the goals that had been set and determine what the new goals will be.
  3. Have the staff members show their personal graphs and discuss what the appropriate actions, based upon those graphs, would be for the upcoming week.
  4. Discuss any future plans that the practice may have. Keep it brief.
  5. Go over any promotional activities that are active or in the planning stages.
  6. Make any announcements that are appropriate for all staff to be notified of.
  7. If it appears that more time will be needed to go over any particular issues, let the staff know that you will plan a longer staff meeting within the next week or two and that you will notify them of that schedule change in advance.
  8. Allow time for the doctor (both as doctor and as owner) to address the staff on any issues he/she deems pertinent for the weekly staff meeting.


Questions? Ask the Editor

If you have any questions or suggestions about this article, please feel free to submit them below. Our editors speak with professional doctors like yourself every day. They would be delighted to hear from you.

Critical Practice Foundations

Critical Practice Foundations

The Basics

Most doctors, when starting their practices, miss some of the basic actions that should be established prior to opening.

An owner of a healthcare practice should always, as a first step, work out the following basics: their purpose as a practice owner, the actual product of the practice, and the statistics that will measure the success of the practice.

Below are examples that you can modify and use for your own practice.

Purpose of the Practice Owner

The owner’s purpose is to establish an efficient health care practice that delivers quality service to its patients and/or clients and to have a very solvent and viable practice that provides an enjoyable place for the staff to work and a high quality-of-life for the doctor/owner.

Once the purpose has been established, it is the owner’s responsibility to set the direction and the pace for the business and to demand that the valuable final products of the organization be achieved. To do that, she/he must work out what the product of the practices are. Here are some examples of products:

  • A solvent, viable, expanding practice that delivers high quality care and service
  • Satisfied patients and clients who have received high quality care and service
  • Statistics
  • Number of active patients/clients
  • Production
  • Collections
  • Net Income
  • Solvency (the amount of cash versus the amount of bills owed)

Putting the purpose, product and statistics in place will help create a strong foundation for the expansion of your practice.

Getting your staff on board with you is another part of this process.

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Workable Collection Examples and Tips

Workable Collection Examples and Tips

This article is a continuation of The Truth About Collections. If you haven’t done so yet, we recommend reading the first article to get the full picture.

Let me explain. If at the end of your fiscal year you have enough money to pay for everything, i.e., all of your overhead is covered, such as your staff salaries, your mortgage/lease, equipment payments, taxes, etc., any lost income then becomes your own lost personal net income. For example, if you were collecting an average of 93% (5% lower than what should be your standard) with an annual gross income of $650,000.00 ($55k per month), this would equate to a loss of $32,500.00 per year. Over ten years this amounts to a staggering $325,000.00! And that is essentially straight out of your own pocket. This is the equivalent of you working one year or more out of every ten years for free. Many doctors we survey think that “a few percent here or there isn’t that significant.” I hope the above numbers disabuse you of that idea.

With the above in mind, is it now worth it for you to spend the time to train your receptionist and/or collection/finance person on collecting properly?

Here are some tips on things that you can do to increase your collection percentages.

First Contact

When a new patient/client initially calls to make an appointment, the receptionist should keep it as simple as possible for the patient to arrive. So, you want to schedule them in as soon as possible. You want their first impression to be that they feel well serviced. The new patient/client should be informed to arrive early enough to fill out paperwork, so the appointment can happen on time. Payment terms and conditions should not be discussed on the phone with them. You want to make it as easy as possible for the new patient/client to come into the office and not be put off by anything during the initial contact. When they get into the office, you can then go over your financial policies. You should ask them to bring any insurance information that they have should insurance be relevant to the potential treatment. This should include the name of the company, their policy number, what is covered, what their deductible is, etc. Do not worry about having to get into the details of this over the phone and don’t make the patient feel harassed by this. You don’t want to turn the patient off before they even arrive, or they may not arrive. You want the patient to feel friendly and comfortable about coming into the office, but at the same time, you want them to bring any relevant data that they can.

When They Arrive

As soon as the new patient/client comes through the door, they need to be greeted warmly by the receptionist. The receptionist should then supply the new arrival with the necessary forms to fill out. Included should be a form covering your specific payment requirements indicating that payment is due at the time of treatment and/or your insurance agreements and arrangements. If insurance is involved, the form should include a place to provide what insurance they have, how much is covered, what the deductible is and, most importantly, that they will be expected to pay the copay, deductible or anything not covered by insurance at the time of treatment. They should also be told that, unless otherwise agreed upon, you don’t offer billing but will gladly accept cash and most major credit cards. Let them know if you offer financing through companies such as Care Credit, and if they feel that they will require such financial assistance, make sure they meet right away with the person in your office who handles these matters. If you don’t take care of it on the spot, you are likely to be left with a collection problem on this account. Make sure that you require their signature on this form that signifies that they have read, understood and will comply with the financial policy of your office

Once They Have Received Treatment

Validate your patient/client for the good decision that they made to confront and handle the problem that they came to you with. Let them know that they did the right thing and that the investment they made was a good one. Follow up the first treatment with a quality control call, ideally from the doctor, to make sure all went well.

As treatment continues, make sure that everyone in the office continues to reinforce the good decision the patient/client made, and make the patient/client feel welcome in the office.

If you do these things, you will see a turnaround in your collection percentages, and you will see your net income go up.

Questions? Ask the Editor

If you have any questions or suggestions about this article, please feel free to submit them below. Our editors speak with professional Dr’s like yourself every day. They would be delighted to hear from you.

Staff Management Distress Solutions

Staff Management Distress Solutions

I’m sure many of our readers are very familiar with The Practice Solution Magazine’s phone surveys. Our team of surveyors speak with doctors all over the country, 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. Given the busyness of your schedules, we definitely appreciate it when you take the time to speak with our team. The information that you provide enables us to more closely concentrate on articles of interest to you and your staff.

With that in mind, we have found from our recent surveys that one of the most distressing areas for most doctors is the managing, hiring and controlling of staff. Every person is different, and human interaction within small practices oftentimes can be nerve-racking, volatile and frustrating. You have probably found that not everyone thinks like you do, cares as much about your practice as you do, or is as willing to work extra hours as you do.

We definitely recognize the frustration that can occur with losing an employee whom you have just invested thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours training. One of the most important things that you can do to bolster your practice is to ensure that all of your staff are fully trained and operating on the same page. The optimum team is one that knows what their specific duties are; how to do those functions without any difficulty or emotional issues in other words, strictly professional; and what the other staff are should be doing.

When staff are competent, work is more efficient, morale is higher and the doctor can just be the doctor instead of the referee or babysitter.

In this issue of The Practice Solution Magazine, we provide articles addressing employee issues like staff meetings, setting production targets, and what your responsibility is as the leader for your staff. If you implement the suggestions within these articles, you may find some of your frustrations disappearing, and you may get even more support from your front desk because they will have a better understanding of what you need as the practice owner, which will enable them to become more competent and more professional.

Request Part II Instantly: Suggestions on Staff Correction