Working in a medical practice, whether on the clinical or the administrative side, amplifies any tendencies one might have to try to do and control everything personally. Given the potential for serious consequences (to both health and finances), it’s not surprising that responsible healthcare professionals focus intensely on getting every detail right. The problem is […]
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We recently worked with a smart, energetic practice administrator who was very motivated to improve his practice’s bottom line. He’d already found significant savings by switching billing and phone services (even getting better billing results, to boot). Spurred on by those successes, he’d turned his attention to clinic staffing. While the physicians in his practice […]
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“Fix the problem, not the blame” is a well-known Japanese proverb. It sounds like common sense – isn’t fixing problems what we all ultimately want? But when mistakes happen, the search for culprits instinctively begins – and with it often comes demoralization and tension. Worse, the search for a scapegoat usually won’t keep problems from […]
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A practice we worked with recently was struggling to improve profitability. The practice’s new manager wanted to make an impact fast, so she decided to try replacing longer-term staff with less expensive newbies; since staffing was such a big practice expense, she reasoned that this was the best way to improve profitability. The physician owners […]
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It’s easy to monitor your employees’ every move with modern technology. So should you? The temptation is understandable. The key question is: Are employees motivated to do a good job? Or does getting the most from them require constant oversight? Intuition might suggest the latter – but experience says otherwise. In the early days of […]
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Do you find yourself reluctant to discipline difficult employees because they’ll be hard to replace if they quit? Is that same fear causing you to retain employees who’ve failed to improve, despite being counseled again and again?When the consequences of poor performance never materialize, underperforming employees will soon perceive they’ re exempt from the standards […]
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Background checks in hiring are sometimes confused with reference checks. While both are important, the differences between the two are critical to understand. Reference checks involve conversing directly with a candidate’s former bosses and coworkers. It’s a subjective process that provides insight into a prospective employee’s strengths and weaknesses. Checking references helps you learn how […]
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A new study from the University of Florida found that patients’ rudeness towards their physicians can have a “devastating” impact on medical care. Patient rudeness may play a critical role in medical errors, which by some analyses are now the third leading cause of death in the US. The Florida researchers determined that patient rudeness […]
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Does your specialty have an association just for practice administrators and managers? Specialty practice management associations like the AOA (for ENT administrators), ADAM (for dermatology managers), and others are some of the most lively and valuable networking and education groups around. If you haven’t looked into whether your specialty has a practice management association, it’s […]
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I’m working on an ebook right now about medical practice staffing. More specifically, it’s about how the instinct to cut staff, to be as leanly staffed as possible, can backfire*. There are dozens of little details that any practice can explore to improve profitability. These small changes can be made with much less risk than […]
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Are some jobs at your medical practice just too urgent or important to assign to specific people? That’s the argument some practice managers and physicians make, e.g: “Phones need to be answered by the first available person, whatever their job” “Everyone should keep an eye on the fax machine, and deliver faxes they see piling […]
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It’s not too soon to think about the holidays and how you are going to honor staff for everything they’ve done to get you through the year. Will it be the typical holiday party and a gift exchange or do you plan on giving Christmas bonuses – which can be troublesome? I say this because […]
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When I was in business school, the idea of continuing ed for MBAs was occasionally bandied about.  It just seemed odd that other professions like law and medicine made ongoing education and improvement a priority while ours didn’t. Of course, the most obvious response to this is that the competitive nature of the business world […]
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Yahoo! reports that a recent study by the Workplace Bullying Institute showed that bullying — defined as “abusive conduct that is threatening, intimidating, humiliating, work sabotage, or verbal abuse” — is a problem at nearly half of all US workplaces.  They also found that 27% of all adult Americans have directly experienced it, 21% have […]
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Our work with medical practices often involves analyzing a practice’s data against benchmarks from sources like MGMA, NSCHBC, specialty society surveys, etc.  But, it’s not enough just to compare against the averages and percentiles; you have to know whether meeting or beating a benchmark is a good thing.  Believe it or not, this is not […]
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Sometimes, the business of medical practice management is a fuzzy science.  Managers have to keep the patients, and their bills, moving through the practice.  Most often, physicians are satisfied if their managers accomplish that much. But managing optimally includes softer skills, like bringing out the best in staff.  Recently, we’ve worked with several practices with […]
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Turnover and hiring are costly.  Staff are so important to your practice’s patient service, financial performance and overall functioning.  Given these things, one of the best investments you can make in your own leadership abilities as a physician owner or practice manager is to develop the skill of delivering effective feedback to employees. The importance of giving effective […]
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Leadership sets the tone for the entire practice.  Staff will model your commitment and follow your expectations.  Much of the manager’s role focused on managing practice finances, maintaining practice viability, and keeping a highly motivated and efficient staff that is respectful and trustworthy.  Add to the list a new yardstick that changes how physicians get […]
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Just back from speaking at the wonderful Association of Otolaryngology Administrators (AOA) annual conference — what a valuable event. It’s such a great experience as a speaker to participate in such a well-attended, well-run event. In both of my sessions, attendees  were so attentive, taking notes, asking great questions, and making great comments and sharing […]
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Let’s take a few moments to consider what risks you may be carrying around with your phone.  One common vulnerability is stored passwords on your phone, e.g. within a “notes” program.  Imagine the harm that could come of a thief having access to your banking accounts or practice management software.  Your firm could suffer an […]
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Today’s Harvard Business Review  features a wonderful tip for medical office managers: Know when to coach versus when to teach. Teaching — i.e., demonstrating or instructing an employee on exactly what to do — is key for bringing new employees up to speed (aka, training).  It can also be useful when corrective action is needed […]
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If you haven’t read Dan Ariely’s entertaining, highly-readable and best-selling book Predictably Irrational, consider adding it to your summer reading list. Ariely, a cognitive psychologist at Duke, designed and conducted many experiments that illuminate some surprising reasons that guide behavior. Many of these experiments have relevance for the way that medical practice administrators manage their […]
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Practice managers and physicians often feel like they’re fumbling in the dark when negotiating salaries with prospective employees, and feel unsure about whether their compensation structure is adequate to retain their best people.  But, this is at least partly because they’re not utilizing all of the tools available to stay on top of market compensation […]
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Today’s Harvard Business Review tip on interviewing prospective employees is really useful.  How do you know if the candidate really has the skills he/she claims to have?  Drill down with ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions. For example, if a practice management candidate claims to have implemented internal controls, drilling down for examples can give you a […]
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Practice managers and physician owners might look at the media attention focused on Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer’s decision to end work-from-home at her company and think, well, that doesn’t apply to me.  And it’s true, with only a few exceptions (say, billing), medical practice staff members are unlikely to be able to do their work […]
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Good practice managers understand the importance of regular performance reviews for motivating staff and making them feel appreciated as well as addressing and documenting needed improvements.  But sometimes the manager’s own review by the managing physician of the practice slips through the cracks — and, physicians don’t always understand the importance of giving structured feedback […]
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A poorly-timed departure of a key employee can really put a crimp on your enjoyment and profitability. Recent survey data reported in the online Business Insider cite a lack of trust in corporations and wanting to be their own boss as the top two reasons these workers leave. These data bolster our oft-repeated recommendation that […]
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A recent New York Times article and follow-up blog post discuss the challenges patients have understanding medical bills, through the eyes of a consultant named Jean Poole who has made a career of deciphering (usually highly erroneous) medical bills and helping patients recoup incorrect charges or reduce their outstanding bills. Billing is so challenging for practices […]
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I recently completed a series of articles for Kareo’s Getting Paid blog about how small business management issues relate to practice management.  While medical practices have an important mission that reaches beyond business, they can’t achieve that mission without succeeding on business terms.  And, in many fundamental ways, medical practices are not so different from […]
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