Every week we'll have a new Manager’s Minute - quick one-minute tips to help with managing your practice submitted by the AOA Practice Management Committee. Topics can cover just about anything that might be useful in your day-to-day operations, from HR and accounting to incentive programs and tech tips to speed you through your day. Current Manager’s Minutes can be found on our AOA website home page, and old minutes will be archived here so you can search past tips.
02/17/2017: 4 keys to creating a positive work environment
EMPOWER - Empower your staff to make decisions and create a plan. The idea is to allow the freedom to empower them to create work how they want to. This is letting them know that you trust them to get the job done.
OFFER REWARDS - Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool that should not be underestimated. This shows your staff that you care about them; it also encourages them to work harder and boost morale. Acknowledge your hard-working employees. This will create a competitive environment within the practice. When your staff feels like they are doing good work, they want to rise to the occasion even more.
LISTEN - Listen to your staff's ideas. They’re the ones that are completing the tasks every day. By listening and implementing their ideas, you are telling them that their opinions and ideas matter.
HAVE FUN - Fun happens when people feel well-connected with a team where there’s mutual respect, open communication, and acceptance of who people are, and everyone’s collaborating and working toward the same goal. One office has NFL Jersey Fridays - this allows staff to show off their favorite team. Consider creating a fun team-building activity to spark creativity!
02/10/2017: need another creative way to boost physician and staff morale?
There are endless ways to boost morale! Most physician practices recognize a day during the calendar year as their “anniversary” date, or “founder’s day”. Consider designating this day/date as an annual Employee Appreciation Day, and/or designate the week leading up to, or surrounding, this day as Employee Appreciation Week. As part of the day’s/week’s activities, consider inexpensive appreciation gifts branded with the practice logo or gift cards. Gifts can be in the form of restaurant gift cards, gas cards, tote bags, cooler bags, director’s chairs, Tervis Tumblers, etc. Culminate the day’s/week’s activities by closing early, or extending the lunch period, to allow for a hotdog/hamburger cookout or catered luncheon and outdoor activities. Activities could include a cake walk, outdoor games, tailgate party, etc. If you fundraise for a charitable organization throughout the year, consider a “Pie in the Eye” or “Dunking Booth” fundraiser where employees pay for the opportunity to throw a pie in the face of, or dunk, their favorite (or not so favorite) doctor, manager or supervisor. Whatever you do, make it both fun and memorable. It fosters camaraderie amongst your physicians and staff, and - most of all - encourages laughter and good times.
02/03/2017: FEEL LIKE GROUNDHOG DAY WHERE YOU KEEP DOING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER?
Want to automate repetitive tasks? Try macros! If you use Microsoft Excel or a similar spreadsheet product for the numbers in your work life, consider using macros. What’s a macro? In computers, a ”macro” (for "large"; the opposite of "micro") is any programming or user interface that, when used, expands into something larger.
In MS-Excel, a macro allows you to literally record repetitive steps for replay multiple times in the future. The details of creating a macro will vary based on the version of Excel that you use, but simply explore the Help function. You can also Google "macros" and your version of Excel to find a wealth of online tutorials, including videos.
So, take a step back and evaluate your Excel workload. I bet you’ll find a few opportunities to automate your keystrokes - and save time in the process.
01/27/2017: How to Share the Results of Your Patient Satisfaction Surveys
When your patients comment on their patient satisfaction surveys, you should share all of those comments - both positive AND negative - at your manager and physician meetings. These comments should subsequently be reviewed with each department so everyone is aware of the patient perspective and the importance of these surveys. From there, gather each department to let them help find the solutions to reduce complaints. Employees who help generate a solution have a vested interest in seeing that solution succeed and feel more important to the organization.
01/20/2017: have a mile-high pile of magazines on your desk?
As managers, our time becomes more precious every day. Our practices demand more and more of our time, and interruptions can be unmanageable. Yet, it is more important than ever to stay up on trade reading so our knowledge is relevant. Try this technique to identify the relevant reading quickly, then spend time in the details when life gives you the inevitable moment where you have to wait.
Many of our trade journals still come in printed format. The first time you see a journal, scan the table of contents, then flip through the pages with purpose. See an article that interests you? Tear it out and put it in a reading folder. Toss the rest of the journal and move on with your day. Then, when you know you’ll have a moment where you might be waiting (e.g. travel, early to a meeting, doctor visit), grab your reading folder and read the information in full.
Paper is low-tech but very portable. Even if you get journals online, try the same technique and print what you’re really interested in digesting. This’ll keep your reading stack lean and mean.
01/13/2017: Made a Mistake at Work? Take the Direct Approach to Resolve It
Everybody makes mistakes; it’s inevitable. But it’s what you DO when you make a mistake that counts. In a recent study, it was found that 79% of the people react to those mistakes by blaming others or hiding or just denying that they occurred. The right thing to do, according to New York Times bestselling author Mark Murphy, is to take an “active approach” in response. Personally – that means face-to-face – apologize so the other person can see that you are sincere. It’s hard to show that in an email. The person you wronged will feel better, and, if you do it publicly, others will actually notice that you’ve accepted responsibility and will think better of you as well. Tackling mistakes directly – part of being transparent as a manager - is one of the keys to being happier at work.
01/06/2017: Steps to diffuse team conflicts
Managers should take quick action to mediate conflict and limit collateral damage, writes John Rampton, an investor, online marketer and founder of the online payment company Due. Rampton offers seven suggestions on how to approach workplace conflicts:
- Find the root of the problem.
- Establish open communication.
- Encourage employees to put the company first.
- Propose a possible compromise.
- Encourage people to chat outside of the office.
- Don't let team members spend too much time together.
- As a last resort, switch up the team.
12/22/16: How accessible is your practice? try calling your main phone line
Most phone systems provide the ability to track abandoned calls, wait times, average entry time in each call queue, and number of voice mails. This information should be tracked on a daily basis and sent out to the management staff for monitoring. Staffing changes, including altering hours of call center operators, can better accommodate high-volume call times. Additional users in other locations can be added to a call queue that may be overloaded.
12/16/16: Dealing with Difficult Patients
We all have been there, whether you encounter a patient who is demanding, angry or downright rude. It is how we handle the difficult patient that will determine a positive outcome. The best way to deal with an angry patient is to remove them from the reception area and take them into your office and listen. Let the patient talk without interruption. Eye contact is extremely important, as it conveys to the patient honesty and your openness to listen to their complaint. Body language is just as important as what we say. Keep your hands and arms placed in front of your body, but not crossed as this can seem confrontational. Watch your language as best as you can so not to escalate their anger. Address the patient calmly; try not to talk negatively to the patient. Use statements such as “I can understand why you feel that way.” Try to remain neutral, and demonstrate control of the situation.
12/9/16: oh no! an employee tells you that "morale Is low"
Have you ever been approached by one of your employees and been told “Morale is low?” As administrators and office managers, we frequently struggle with how to boost, or improve, the morale of our employees. We spend countless hours thinking of new ideas and new activities that foster camaraderie, esprit de corps and boost morale. Stop! You, alone, cannot singlehandedly improve the morale of an individual employee or group of employees. It is your responsibility - along with assistance from your physicians/providers - to create an environment where employees can be happy, feel inspired and be rewarded. Keep in mind, however, what inspires one employee, may have no impact on another. The next time you are told “morale is low,” instead of stressing over what to say or do, ask the individual employee, or group of employees, what inspires them and makes them feel rewarded in their jobs. Engage the employees in the process of improving morale in your practice. Form a morale, service or activities committee and encourage participation from employees across all departments/sections. Give them a voice! Ask them to make recommendations, present ideas, etc. Your job, then, becomes to provide guidance and direction and assist them with planning activities/functions that will boost morale of the entire practice/department. By doing this, employees become more vested in the practice/organization and feel more appreciated.
12/2/16: Recognizing exceptional customer service
Excellent customer service in every department is fast becoming a requirement for our practices in order to capture and retain our patients. One practice has instituted a “WOW Program” to recognize staff members for demonstrating exceptional customer service and going above and beyond. A “WOW card” is awarded by a physician or manager. This recognition is documented in the employees file and entered into a drawing at their quarterly employee staff meetings. Three WOW cards are drawn per meeting and prizes (gift cards, game tickets are awarded to the winners)!
11/22/16: quick and easy ways to reduce stress at work
Stress can have a serious effect on both your mental and physical health, so take steps NOW to control it. You don’t need to go to a yoga class or meditate for hours – you can do little things right now at work.
- Relax your muscles. Stress, especially over a long period of time, causes muscle tension that you don’t even realize is there. Slowly tense then relax your muscles, one body area at a time. Start from your feet and work your way up to your neck. Get a squeeze ball for your hands.
- Practice deep breathing. Slowly inhale through the nose then exhale through the mouth, all while focusing on calming the rest of your body as well. Even a few deep belly breaths can provide immediate stress relief.
- Go to your “happy place.” Close your eyes and spend just a few moments imagining you are somewhere else you really want to be - a beach, top of a mountain, on vacation, etc. Go through all your senses, one by one, thinking about what you’d see, hear, smell, touch and taste.
- Engage your senses. Everyone has a special type of music or some scent that calms them. Record a playlist of music. Get scented lotion. Find a favorite candy. Experiment to find what makes you feel calm, then keep it near for when you need it.
- Laugh. A deep laugh stimulates circulation and soothes tension. So find things that make you giggle and put them near you.
11/11/16: BODY LANGUAGE CUES TO JOB CANDIDATES - WHAT YOU DON'T SAY MATTERS
Your body language can say 1,000 words! The next time you interview a new candidate - or meet with a potential vendor, referring physician, etc. - take some lessons from the tips below.
11/4/16: first impressions - your handshake matters
A good handshake can go a long way to solidifying a relationship. It tells whether you want to be there and shows if you are aggressive or submissive. Here’s what to do for a guaranteed powerful handshake:
- Always be prepared. If you know you’re going to be shaking someone’s hand, make sure everything you’re carrying is in your left hand so your right hand is free. Don’t carry a cold drink or something sticky that will make your hand feel clammy.
- Your whole body goes into your handshake. Always stand, face the other person squarely and make eye contact. Smile warmly.
- Reach out ready to go. Hold your hand perpendicular (neither palm up, which means submissive, or palm down, which means dominant). Angle your thumb straight toward the ceiling.
- Make good contact. Slide your hand into position palm to palm. Wrap your fingers around the person’s hand as though your hand is “hugging” their hand. Don’t grab just fingertips.
- Shake two or three pumps from your elbow, not your wrist. Then release and step back.
- PRACTICE. Do not be a “dead fish,” crunch knuckles just because you can, or reach out with two hands (this is the “politician’s handshake”).
10/28/16: things you can do to be a great boss
We've all heard stories about horrible bosses. While it's unlikely that someone STRIVES to be an unlikable leader, you might unintentionally be doing something that makes you appear to be one! Consider the tips below to take your leadership from good to great.
- Don’t try to be someone you’re not.
- Work in the trenches with your employees, actually doing their job.
- Give credit where it’s due.
- Be clear on your expectations.
- Make employees feel included in decisions.
- Show empathy.
- Help employees realize their potential.
10/21/16: Connect with Fellow AOA Members on AOAnow.org
Have you been on the AOAnow website, read something and just wanted to share it with a fellow member but you had no clue how to reach them? It’s is so easy to connect! Remember, you must be logged into the AOA website to utilize these features. Use the following ways to connect with fellow members to share ideas:
Find Author Info: Did someone post something you really liked and want to continue connecting with that person? In site comments and discussion forum posts, the poster’s name will appear as a blue link. Click that link to access their profile for to see their full contact information.
Message through AOAnow.org: Send a message to fellow members. When you click a member’s profile – either through the poster link or through a member search under members only – there is a “Message” icon at the top to send a note directly through the AOAnow.org system to your colleagues.
Build Your Network: Just like a traditional social media site, AOAnow.org allows you to connect to members to build your colleague list. Visit a member’s profile online, then click the “Connect” button at the top. From your own member profile home, you can view a list of your personal connections on the left-hand side. Try it out today by connecting to AOA Leadership Council members or AOA Office staff!
10/14/16: Time Management - the key to being effective in your job
Are you a good time manager? Do you use your time effectively, completing tasks when they're due? Here are some tips to help get you or keep you on track:
- Create a daily plan so you know what to expect. And build in some time for the "unexpected."
- Set a time limit for each task, even setting a specific time it must be completed. This prevents your work from dragging out.
- Use a calendar and/or an organizer to plan out more than just TODAY. Long term planning is just as important as short term.
- Learn to say NO. This is the only way to keep control of your time.
- Plan to be early! That way, if you have a lot of those unexpected little things overtake your day, you might actually be on time!
10/7/16: Nine Phrases leaders should avoid when starting a conversation
As a leader, how you initiate a conversation – whether it’s with one person or a room full of people -- can dictate how the audience hears and responds to your message.
To set up your conversation for success, especially difficult ones, avoid beginning your discussion with these common phrases:
- I’m sure you’re already thinking about this.
- Tell me if I am wrong…
- I don’t mean to offend you…
- My understanding is…
- That is a creative idea, but…
- I need you to… or You need to…
- I’m not the one that thinks this, but…
- Of course, as you know…
- Are you open to some feedback?
Instead, start with a statement of intention that seeks the permission of the audience to hold the conversation. For example, “I would like to talk about how we could do some great work together. Can we talk for a minute?” Learn about why certain openers don't work on the DialogueWORKS blog.
9/30/16: Six Hacks to Help You Learn Anything Faster
Staying competitive often means learning new things. Multiple research studies indicate that you can learn and retain information faster, giving you the professional edge you need to advance:
- Teach someone else (or just pretend to): You tend to turn to more effective strategies to retain knowledge.
- Learn in short bursts of time: Somewhere between 30-50 minutes is the right amount. Then take a break.
- Take notes by hand: Not as a fast as typing on a laptop, but less mindless. Your comprehension improves because writing notes demands that you be a more active listener.
- Use the power of mental spacing: Review information every few days after learning it – like keeping your lawn green and watering it frequently as opposed to only once a during the summer.
- Take a study nap: Get your rest between learning sessions.
- Change it up: When practicing a new task or motor skill, try a slightly modified version each time to help you master it.
9/23/16: Font Size on Your Computer Screen Too Small?
It will happen to all of us at one time or another – something on your screen is just too small to read. Rather than go get “cheaters” (reading glasses that perch on the end of your nose), use the Windows Magnifier! Go to the Start menu, type Magnifier in the Search box, and click on it once it appears. This turns on the Magnifier, which will allow you to increase magnification or decrease it back to your regular resolution. When Magnifier appears in the Start menu, you can also right click it and pin it to your taskbar for future use.
9/16/16: Passwords Galore! How to Protect and Save Them
Each of us has a folder full of passwords. And most of us commit the cardinal sin of using a particularly good one for several programs, making it easier for us to be compromised if even just one would be leaked or hijacked. The solution is to get a program that retains – and can even automatically update or change – all of your passwords. Most of the better programs can work across multiple platforms (your PC, your phone and your tablet), so it doesn’t matter where you’re working. There are a lot of programs out there, so do your homework. Type “password manager program reviews” into Google and look at a site that you trust to review features to find the one that meets your needs. Some are even free, but those typically won’t work on multiple platforms. You can find several that cost about a $1 a month that work quite well
8/26/16: AOA ANNUAL CONFERENCE POT OF GOLD!
Why go to our annual conference? Because it’s the fastest, easiest way to establish a network of other ENT managers and administrators to use as resources whenever you need help in your practice! Your peers can be the best source of information you’ll have – and they’re free. You’ll probably learn new ways to do things you never thought about even trying. So come join us! Put faces to the names you’ve seen on our discussion forums or in emails and newsletters. And you’ll make a lot of wonderful new friends too. It’s not too late to register!
8/19/16: Important Document Retention
Where are your important documents stored? You can easily pull online copies of a medical license, but where are the big credentialing packages that you use as a guide so you don’t start from scratch every time? Where are your insurance policies? Where are your employee files, both current employees and those who have left? Where are your bonds for your 401k plan, if you have to have one? What about copies of Social Security cards, driver’s licenses or other personal paperwork you need for your providers? You can store these online, but most of us keep paper copies of some of it. It’s recommended that anything you’d have difficulty recreating should be stored offsite or in your office in a fire safe in case of emergency. Give yourself fewer things to worry about should you arrive at the office only to see flashing red lights and lots of smoke. It also protects your paperwork in case of a break in
8/12/16: Do You Leave Yourself Sticky Notes So You Don’t Forget Things?
Everyone uses some form of personal reminders. The best – and the worst – of them are sticky notes. Have you ever written yourself a note and then lost it? And then found it later stuck to your shoe or to the back of something totally unrelated? Stop using PAPER notes and use the ones already built into your computer! Windows users can go to the Start menu and type Sticky Notes in the Search box. When it shows up, right click and pin it to your task bar. When you click to open it, it opens one note. You can click the “+” sign to get another note. You can right-click to change colors, coding by functional area, priority or assignments. Any of the keyboard shortcuts you use in Word also work in your Sticky Notes. You can minimize them just like other programs if you want them out of the way, too – but they won’t be stuck to your latest mail or clothes!
8/5/16: Today’s New Hires Need Computer Skills
In today’s world – where almost everything is computer based – hiring someone who “says” they have computer skills is risky. Your definition of excellent skills may be very different from your applicants’. Consultants strongly recommend testing your applicants before hiring. Do a Google search for “Pre-employment computer skills testing,” looking for a site that will let you take at least part of the tests before you agree to use them so you can see exactly what is tested. One site recommended by KarenZupko Associates is totaltesting.com, which lets you try out every test yourself for free; you just can’t do the entire test or you have to pay for it. You can choose just about any computer skill at any level you want, and there are many that are program-specific. You’ll save a lot of headache – or unplanned training time – making sure your new hire knows how to log in.
7/22/16: 2017 CMS Fees and Targeted Procedures
CMS has taken a hard look at Modifier 25 usage with E/M services and minor procedures. They identified 82 minor procedures where they saw high 25 usage with E/M services across all specialties. Not surprisingly, 31231, Diagnostic nasal endoscopy, 31575, Flexible diagnostic laryngoscopy, 92511, nasopharyngoscopy and 69210, removal of impacted cerumen, were all on the list. These minor procedures will be targeted in 2017 for audit and documentation will be under greater than usual scrutiny. Make sure your E/M supports the medical necessity of performing the minor procedures and that your E/M is separate from your procedure note. Your procedure findings cannot be within your E/M exam findings, but must be part of a separate procedure note and the procedure note should be documented so that you can encapsulate it as individual documentation that is “significant and separately identifiable” from your E/M service. This is what you will need to show that both your E/M and your procedure is payable via your documentation
7/15/16: CMS Requires MONTHLY Search on Your Employees
Did you know that, if you bill Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE and the VA, the OIG requires you to do a MONTHLY screening to ensure that none of your employees are on the OIG Exclusion List of Sanctioned Individuals. Set a monthly calendar event to go to https://exclusions.oig.hhs.gov to enter every single person in your practice including the physicians to make sure they aren’t on the list. You can click on “Search for Multiple Individuals” to enter up to five people at a time. Click Search to present results and make sure to print and retain all searches. You could be asked for these if audited! And make sure to put in all potential employees during your hiring process too!
7/8/16: How to Handle Patients Who Show Up for Appointments When You Had to Reschedule Them
It happens to all of us: You have a perfectly wonderful office day scheduled and the doctor tells you to reschedule it since he has an emergency surgery or just decides to take the day off. You call the patients to try to catch them before they leave the house but miss connecting with the first two who each have to drive two hours to get there. How do you soothe them? Try gas or coffee gift cards. Gas cards show them that you understand they have spent money to get there and recognize the inconvenience (even if you did try to call every number they gave you but no one answers.) A coffee card might be a worth a little less but it is a good choice if you’re asking them to wait for an hour or two until the doctor gets back, assuming s/he is only gone to the ER for a while. Anything you can do to show the patient you understand is a good thing.
6/30/16: MONTHLY ASSESSMENT OF YOUR A/R
As a manager, you should be monitoring your practice’s A/R on a regular basis. Key parameters and reports to run include:
- Days in A/R: The number of days on average it takes to get an account paid. This includes both insurance and patient balances. A recommended benchmark is 30 to 45 days. Anything over that means you are taking too long to get paid. And every day you aren’t paid decreases the likelihood that you will be paid, especially for patient balances.
- Percentage of A/R that is in your greater-than-90-days bucket. This should be 15% or less. Anything higher means money is sitting on the table waiting for you to try to collect it.
- Net collection percentage measures your effectiveness in being paid. Determine your total revenue not including your refunds. Divide that by your gross charges less required contractual write-offs. Your net collections should be 95% or higher.
6/24/16: important: meaningful use hardship application deadline is july 1
The CMS deadline for the Meaningful Use Hardship application for 2015 submission – which impacts 2017 – is July 1. There are several reasons you can use to apply for Hardship but the easiest is to check #2d – EHR Certification/Vendor Issues – which can pertain to CME not finalizing the MU rules early enough for you to have implemented them in 2015. You don’t need to write a novel justifying your request, just check that box. Download the form from CMS.
6/17/16: "unexpected" employee incentives
There’s nothing better than an unexpected surprise from management to recognize employees for a job well done. Sometimes the best incentives are to the whole staff as a way to just say thank you for helping survive an unusually bad week. The key is to make sure the staff understands WHY you are doing it, either by announcement or written note. Suggestions:
- Movie tickets for two
- Gift certificate to a restaurant
- Gift certificate to a spa for women and maybe a shooting range for men (or whatever seems appropriate)
- “Frosty Friday” – go get Frostys from Wendy’s for everyone on your staff in the middle of the afternoon
- Buy several tubs of ice cream and toppings then no-notice, set them out mid afternoon
- Gas cards
6/10/16: windows keyboard shortcuts
Ctrl+Escape Open the Start Menu
Ctrl+Alt+Tab Use arrow keys to switch between open items
Escape Cancel the current task
Ctrl+Shift+Esc Open Task Manager
Delete or Ctrl+D Delete the selection and move it to the Recycle Bin
Shift+Delete Delete the selection and NOT move it to the Recycle Bin first
6/3/16: Notifying patients of delays
No one likes to wait. Remind your clinical and the non-clinical staff to keep the patients in your waiting room up-to-date on any delays. And don’t forget to update those patients already sitting in your exam rooms if there is an expected delay there too! The front desk staff should be aware of any delays so they are able to inform patients as they arrive if necessary. If the delay is substantial, perhaps your staff can offer to reschedule patients who cannot wait or even suggest they go grab a cup of coffee at a nearby coffee shop. If you have a patient who becomes irate about a delay when a provider on call has to leave temporarily to go to the ER, try this script: “Dr. Smith was called to the ER for an emergency but is expected to return (whenever – give a realistic estimate). We know that if it was you in the ER and you needed an ENT specialist, that you’d be glad your doctor left his/her clinic day to come take care of you too. We appreciate your patience.”
5/27/16: windows keyboard shortcuts
As practice managers, we are always looking to accomplish more in a shorter time frame. One way to increase efficiency and create easier workflow on the computer is to implement some Windows keyboard shortcuts. After some practice, you'll be speeding through your day, bouncing seamlessly from one project to the next. Check out some useful shortcuts below.
F1 - Displays Help
F2 - Rename the selected item
F3 - Search for a file or folder
F4 - Display the address bar list in Windows Explorer
Alt + F4 - Close the active item or exit the active program
Ctrl + F4 - Close the active document in programs that allow you to have multiple documents open simultaneously
F6 - Cycle through screen elements in a window or on the desktop
F10 - Activate the menu bar in the active program
5/13/16: Do You Have Ineffective or Unorganized Meetings?
Medical office staff meetings can be quite effective if utilized in an efficient and productive manner. Meetings are a great form of communication for the entire practice and should be held on a regular basis. When meetings are scheduled weekly, biweekly or even monthly, managers and staff can address issues within the office in a timely fashion. Many times meetings can become ineffective when there isn't enough planning involved to accommodate time limitations or the information presented is not properly organized. For information on the top three ways to make your meetings better, check out the PM Resource Library for the AOA-33 Sharpshooter’s Session on 10 Mistakes We Make As Practice Managers.
5/6/16: Patient Satisfaction Mistakes
It is your responsibility as a manager of medical providers to provide quality service. The last conversation a provider wants to have with a patient is a discussion over refusal to pay for what the patient perceives as inadequate treatment. In most cases where a patient has a bad medical experience – whether it is a clinical error or a customer service mishap – only one question comes to mind: “How can we rectify the situation?” Keeping your customers satisfied is a top priority, especially in a service-driven industry such as healthcare. Read some specific tips to help your situation in the AOA-33 Sharpshooter’s Session on 10 Mistakes We Make As Practice Managers document on the Practice Management Resource Library.
4/29/16: Waiting Too Long to Terminate an Employee
Another way to strengthen the medical office staff is by reassigning or removing unproductive employees. The team is only as strong as its weakest link. Unproductive employees can compromise quality of care and lower employee morale. Oftentimes, you will find that you have “addition by subtraction:” Your remaining employees will become much more productive and happier employees, with the "subtraction" of a problem employee. This does not necessarily mean every employee that has a bad day needs to be terminated. Evaluate your unproductive employees to find out their strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes employees are placed in a mismatched position or haven't been properly trained. With proper training and development, your medical office staff can reach their maximum potential.
4/22/16: Cross-Train Your Staff for Success
All of the strategic planning and marketing plans to get your patients through the door are for naught if you don't spend the time to train and develop your staff. Make sure they are up-to-date with all of the latest information you provide your patients. If your front desk receptionist has no idea about the hearing aid promotion you have offered, you will lose that customer before they even get on the schedule. Cross-train as many positions as possible. The quality of care your patients receive should not be less than excellent due to one or two absent employees. Cross-training also improves morale. Employees feel they are a valuable asset to the organization when they are given the opportunity to expand their skills or knowledge
4/15/16: Do You Have a Strategic Plan for Your Office?
In any medical office, there are factors that can influence the success of the organization. The key is identifying those factors – regardless whether they are within your control – and developing a plan that will lead to the achievement of the organization's future goals. This process of identifying the medical office goals and developing the plans to achieve those goals is referred to as strategic planning. Every medical office needs to develop a strategic plan, whether you’re a new start-up or re-evaluating an existing one. There are five areas of focus in the strategic planning process: (1) Perform a S.W.O.T. Assessment; (2) Identify a strategy; (3) Plan your strategy; (4) Implement your strategy; and finally (5) Monitor the results. For more information, check out the Practice Management Resource Library for the AOA-33 Sharpshooter’s Session on 10 Mistakes We Make As Practice Managers.
4/8/16: Job Performance Reviews: Not an Accurate picture of employee's Performance
It is hard to be the "mean guy" in the office, but if not you, then who? Someone has to tell it like it is – and that job is yours! If you consistently give reviews that are all positive and do not address performance issues, employees believe that what they are doing is OK. Cell phone use could be a small problem today and, if you leave it unaddressed, it will become a larger problem as time goes on and the behavior goes unchecked. It makes progressive discipline a tougher issue, too. How does someone who has a glowing review in January become a big enough problem to terminate in March?
4/1/16: Document Performance Issues Properly
This can come back to bite you and your practice bottom’s line if not done! If an employee has job performance issues, address them. Did you have a conversation about it? Write it down. Did it have a second occurrence? Document with the written warning and have the employee sign it. Make certain that you have provided the employee with an opportunity to improve performance prior to termination (unless this is a situation that you have outlined in your handbook as grounds for immediate termination). There is a practice that spent more than $60,000 defending itself in a wrongful termination lawsuit simply because progressive documentation was not done. The practice was found innocent, but there would have been no case if documentation had been complete.
3/25/16: hiring in a hurry? Don't do it!
As everyone knows, first impressions are lasting ones. The first impressions your customers receive about your medical practice are often from your office staff, making these employees crucial to the success of your organization. If a candidate was just mediocre at the interview, it is highly likely that they will be that (or worse!) at your office. Don't settle for anyone - your time is much more effectively spent in the selection process rather than the difficult process of firing and rehiring!
3/18/16: Perform Regular Assessments of Your Current Operations
Have you considered performing an assessment of your medical office? Focusing on your current operations allows you to identify opportunities for improvement. Typically, managers and administrators only consider performing an assessment when the medical office is in financial trouble; however, an assessment should be done periodically to evaluate your overall performance. Performing an assessment now can prevent costly consultant fees later. Areas for regular assessment should include: Patient Flow; Workflow and Productivity; Managed Care Contracts; Occupational and Environmental Safety; Adverse Medical Events; and Fee Schedules. For more information, check out the PM Resource Library for the AOA-33 Sharpshooter’s Session on 10 Mistakes We Make As Practice Managers.
3/11/16: Windows "Snipping tool" - a picture is worth a thousand words!
Do you ever need a snapshot of what’s on your monitor but don’t want the whole screen? Would images make it easier to write directions or procedures for your staff? If you’re running Windows, use the Windows Snipping Tool! Click the Start Menu then type Snipping Tool. You’ll see an icon that looks like scissors over a red circle. To use, select the tool, which causes your entire monitor to “grey out” (both monitors if you have more than one.) Use your cursor to select the area you want to capture (click and drag to create a box). The image pops up in a new window. Redo it if you want more or less shown. To use, you can save it as a .jpg to your computer OR use the dropdown selection under “Edit” to copy and then paste in a Word document. We suggest you click and drag it to your Taskbar so it’s readily available. You’ll never use ScreenPrint again!
2/26/16: front desk meeting
A front desk five-minute meeting every morning will make the day proceed more smoothly if there are any issues that the whole group needs to be aware of. Doing this each day before the phones are opened and the doors are unlocked might have more impact than you know. If you can‘t do these daily, then how about once or twice a week? Customize it to your practice to fit your needs.
2/19/16: Phone system abandonment
Checking your abandonment rate at least once a month gives insight to any possible changes that need to be made. Are your patients unable to contact your office? Are potential new patients hanging up and going elsewhere because they can’t get to you? Are you missing calls at specific times of the day? Maybe an additional staffer during those times would take care of the issue. Check with your phone vendor to set this up to start tracking abandonment immediately.
Did you know that you have until March 11, 2016, to submit for 2015 PQRS? Make sure that you do not get penalized for not submitting your quality measures for last year! And there’s a NEW group measure for 2015 just for ENT on Sinusitis. Click here for a detailed write up on the measure. Want to get this Quality Monkey off your back? Sign up for PQRS Wizard. A discount is available if your physicians are active members of the Academy!