A smooth-running office with a courteous and attentive staff is not just the luck of the draw.
It is more likely to happen when the physician clearly communicates his or her expectations to the staff and then follows up to be sure that they are meeting them.
As a busy physician, you shouldn't have to worry about the office details.
However, you should never be too busy to train your staff to worry about them.
Office operations are too important not to be supervised.
Think of your office as a restaurant.
If the wait staff was slow, surly, didn't fill your water glass, and brought you the wrong food, this would not be an establishment to which you'll likely return.
Need we say any more?
The most hidden secrets of efficiently running an office.
Did you have any formal training on how to run an office?
The first thing that you have to ask yourself is the time you want to start the day, followed by what time you want to end the day and whether you want to take a break hour.
You start by having a rule that you did not book any patients prior to the start time, after the close time, or during the break hour.
You do not break that rule.
What if a patient calls and says that it is an emergency.
What does that do to your schedule?
You tell the patient to come over right away, but that he may have to wait for an opening.
If the patient says he would prefer to come in the next day, it is not a real emergency, and then you ask him to make an appointment.
If it is a real emergency, you have him come right over.
You do have an extra room where you can put the patient, and you can squeeze in his visit with the regularly scheduled patients.
However, you let the patient determine whether it really is an emergency.
You have a very professional staff, but at the same time the staff is caring and friendly.
How do you communicate to your staff what you expect of them?
You look for people who have friendly personalities and a strong work ethic.
You can always work with staff to improve their skills, but it is almost impossible to change their personalities and work ethic.
This runs throughout the staff because just one staff member who is surly, uncaring, or who is regularly late to work can throw off an entire office.
You also explain to the staff that this is not a 9 to 5 job. We must get the work done.
How do you manage to see all of your patients almost exactly on time?
As we said, you do not overbook.
Also, much of your work is repetitive.
You know how long each procedure should take, and you block out that amount of time for each appointment.
You depend to a large extent on your staff to keep you on schedule.
Not everything that happens in the exam room needs to be done by the doctor.
Your assistants can perform duties that frees you up to see more patients.
How do you monitor your staff to see that they maintain their good work ethic?
It starts from the top.
If you are compulsive about starting on time, this trickles down to the staff and they know that they must be on time.
If you came wandering in 20 minutes late one day and 40 minutes late the next, this would also trickle down to the staff.
You also set the schedule on the computer these days.
You periodically review the schedules both to know what to expect from your schedule and from the staff's schedule.
In a hardworking and somewhat disciplined environment, how do you keep up staff morale?
You really want your staff to consider themselves as professionals and not just employees.
That way they will take pride in their work and want to do the best job possible.
You see to it that the staff is fairly monthly compensated with annual bonus, and other benefits.
You also take seriously continuing education for your staff, and will pay to have them attend seminars that will improve their professional knowledge and skills and keep them up with technical developments.
That further strengthens their sense of professionalism.
How do you keep your schedule from having holes in it?
You do several things.
First, you try to set up the next appointment with a patient when he is leaving your office.
If there is a cancellation, you may call a patient with an appointment a few days later and see whether that patient wants to come in a few days early.
You also email confirmations of appointments and appointment reminders to patients.
Do you solicit or listen to patient feedback on how your office is running?
You do listen to reliable feedback from patients.
You can even go so far as to have a patient suggestion box or proceed to a satisfaction survey for your services.
Health professionals often need to refer patients to other professionals.
How do you handle that?
Obviously you know some very good practitioners in related fields and you are confident to their work.
You must feel comfortable about the person to whom you are giving a referral.
You also call the person who you are referring to be sure that you have fully explained what you believe needs to be done, and that the other professional understands and is comfortable with doing the work.
Are there any general rules that you follow in relating to your patients?
You have always thought that much of running a responsive office is common sense.
You believe in treating people in your office the way you would like to be treated.
This seems to work.