May 18, 2012
Let’s face it. You spend the majority of your waking, productive hours at work each day. You and your co-workers are together 8, 10 sometimes 12 hours a day. You handle pressures and stresses that naturally draw you closer together. Those shared experiences deepen your relationship and create strong team bonds that help you to be more effective and efficient. But, can you be too friendly at work?
As a Practice Manager, there are a couple of “friendly” dangers to avoid. The first is becoming too friendly with your employees creating roadblocks to effective management. Initially the relationships you forge with your co-workers are created in a cooperative effort to manage the challenges of the practice each day. Little by little you begin to share more and more of yourself – what you did over the weekend, likes and dislikes, your birthday, cute things the kids say – before you know it you’re having lunch together, celebrating birthdays and holidays and sharing more intimate details of your life.
The Practice Manager needs to strike a balance between friendliness and authority. You are responsible for ensuring that the practice runs smoothly. You must give feedback, performance appraisals, input into raises, vacation time approval, etc. When an employee sees you not as the boss but as a “friend”, you are in danger of her thinking she has special consideration. You may also create the illusion that you have a “pet” employee who has perks by virtue of being your friend. These situations challenge your ability to be an effective manager, as well as create an emotionally charged work environment.
The second danger is in becoming the doctor’s “work wife”. A work spouse is defined as a co-worker that you have a close but platonic relationship with. As the Practice Manager, you know a lot about the doctor’s personal style, his likes and dislikes, perhaps you even handle some personal business for him. These are the details that help you make his practice run smoothly. But, you can take this relationship too far. When you start behaving like a married couple, then you’ve crossed the line between professional and personal. This can create problems with the office team, with your own spouses or significant others, and occasionally crosses the line into a full-blown office romance.
A positive, warm and nurturing work environment is important for everyone. The team performs better when it is cohesive and drama-free. Patients can feel the “energy” of the office. A friendly, upbeat, well-run office creates happy, loyal patients, as well as happy, loyal employees. It’s your job to strike a balance between friendly and professional with the team, the doctor(s) and your patients.
June 21, 2010
Medical manager, what is it that your practice does well? Is your doctor an expert at balancing hormones? Is your medical practice renown for treating cancer with high success rates? Whatever your specialty, I am sure that there is something more that you provide at your practice that causes you to stand out. There are some practices that know their patients by name without having to look at their chart. There are others who continually stay in contact with their patients through newsletters, email or phone calls. Some staff members at medical practices have the knack for making their patients feel special and it is remembered.
It does not matter what the gift is that you have to offer at your medical practice. What matters is that you (practice manager) know what it is. To find out how you stand apart from other practices it is not difficult to do. Here are some ideas:
- Observe staff in action
- Notice what other practices say about your practice
- Ask patients at random for their opinion
- Conduct your own patient survey
- Have an outside contractor conduct your patient survey
- Ask staff for their opinion
If you want to begin with conducting a patient survey, there are many online choices for surveys such as Online Patient Survey, Dr Score, or create your own online survey for free at Free Online Surveys. The internet options are available to you if you will just ask the questions. Asking the difficult questions of your patients will provide the information and feedback that you need to progress in your medical practice and move forward. If you are not willing to ask your patients (clients) how you serve them, then what are you in business to do for them?
Take a chance and find out what your patients like about your practice. You may be very surprised to hear what they think. Then use it as fuel to produce more satisfying experiences.
June 7, 2010
Guest Post by Mary Pat Whaley, FACMPE
Most medical practice managers do not aspire to be television, radio or (heaven forbid) YouTube celebrities, but it does happen. Medical practices, hospitals, surgical centers, nursing homes and other medical entities are rich fodder for the news these days. So how do you weather the request for a sound bite without putting your practice in jeopardy? Follow these simple rules and you’ll be an asset to your practice in no time.
- The media is your friend, treat them that way. Encourage reporters and journalists to call you for updates on your practice (new doctor, new facility, enhanced website, patient appreciation, health fair activities, etc.) AND to comment on new stories.
- Remember that “No comment” translates in the media as “I’m hiding something.” Some information, even if it is a repeat or a rehash, is better than “no comment.”
- Have your physicians and other administration agree that there is only one spokesperson and that they will refer all requests from the media to you.
- If you are asked a question that you cannot or do not want to answer, probably in relation to something negative about your practice, the format to follow is:
- Tell them that you are not able to answer that question,
- Tell them why you can’t tell them (I don’t have that information at this time OR I’ve not received the report on this yet OR this matter is still being reviewed/evaluated/investigated at this time),
- Tell them what you can tell them, which might be ‘We do know…” OR “What is clear at this time…” OR “What we’ve been told…”
- Nothing is off the record and you can’t unring that bell. Once you’ve said it, it is out there.
- If the media isn’t calling you for news, call them!
Don’t forget that doctors and healthcare are in the spotlight constantly these days and that negative press is not good for your practice, or the industry at large. Protect your practice by being a confident, competent and knowledgeable practice administrator.
Mary Pat Whaley, FACMPE
My Blog: www.managemypractice.com
My Book on Collections: http://bit.ly/1dYkFi