One of the key elements in running a successful practice is the actual communication level of the practice.
This communication level is not just how people talk to each other. “How” is important, but there is more to it than just that.
It’s also not how many telephones, computers and email addresses the practice has. How they are used is what is important.
Think of communication as a series of systems or channels. These channels consist of not only the methods, but also the importance and reasons for interchanging ideas, information and knowledge.
These ideas, information and knowledge are the elements that keep the staff and patients in tune with what’s going on in the practice as it relates to them.
It is the quality of these communication systems that make or break a practice.
Let’s take a closer look at some of these communication systems.
The first is the methods and quality of how communications are delivered between the staff and the patients at an organizational service level. These communication channels can be in the form of verbal, policy, dispatch or memo, phone, intercom, emails, etc.
The next and maybe the most overlooked aspect of interoffice communication is the job description itself and how well each staff member knows it.
Often overlooked in job descriptions are the elements of what communications are required, necessary, and important relative to the jobs of other staff and the form these communications should take.
Check your office job descriptions and make sure that they include this vital information.
It is also important to include in an office manager’s job description procedures and policies governing the implementing and maintaining of office communications systems.
The question is, how well and how easily can communication be initiated, relayed and received in the practice and with the patients?
It can be proven empirically that the speed, flow and quality of how well communication can be initiated and received will distinguish a well-run and profitable practice from one that is struggling.
Understanding, implementing and maintaining high quality communication systems in a practice is vital to the success of the practice.
Smooth out the communication and watch your practice grow.
Implementing Communication Systems
In order to have a working, usable communication system, there are several elements that are key to establishing and maintaining it.
The following is a brief outline of establishing a communication system in a clinic.
First and foremost, you will need an organization chart. This chart does not have to be fancy or elaborate, but it does have to accurately and concisely show who does what in the practice, and it needs to be kept current.
A correctly done organizational chart is scalable. That is to say, it grows with the practice staffing needs and doesn’t have to be redone each time a new hire is made or new position is defined.
The key elements of this chart show, at a glance, which person holds what position in the clinic, which part(s) of the clinic they are responsible for, and at least a summary of functions for each position.
Having this organizational chart is the first key ingredient to establishing a working communication system.
The “Hey, you!” system of management will not work for long as it will create too much stress and confusion and will prevent the clinic from growing.
A copy of this organization chart should be included in each job description.
In each job description, there should also be procedures and policies that explain and govern the use of the clinic communication system. These procedures and policies need to be clear and concise.
These policies should include the form that interoffice communications need to take. For example, dispatch or memo, intercom, verbal, email, etc.
Included in the job description should also be procedures and policies that govern who in the clinic needs what information relayed to them, based on their function, and what information the person needs in order to do their job.
- Who needs what info (and in what form) when a new patient signs up?
- How do staff members get supplies or things that they need for their jobs?
- Who they communicate to if they are having some difficulty with their job, etc.?
The physical aspect of a communication system is simply a series of baskets, files, etc., where dispatches and memos can be received and routed. Instructions for using this part should also be included in each job description.
Spending time and energy creating a communication and organizational system for the practice is time and energy well spent. A good, sound communication and organizational system is the foundation of every successful practice.