Whether you work in a small, private practice, or a large, multi-provider clinic, implementing a few simple strategies can make your job much easier and help your office run more smoothly. Here are eight steps for promoting professionalism, productivity and teamwork:
- Set a good example. Leading by example is one of the best methods for building morale, curbing discipline challenges, and keeping things moving. There are several things that go into setting the example: dressing professionally, arriving on time and staying the full shift, pitching in to help out (no job is "below" you), being curteous to patients, and showing respect for those you work with. When you set the pace, everyone will follow.
- Don’t manage from inside your office. To really lead by example, consider creating a work station that’s located near the front desk area. Reserve your private office for one-on-one meetings and reviewing sensitive information. Good office management requires interaction from both sides of the counter: patients and staff. In order to know how things are working, you have to be there. You have to interact with staff, greet patients, ask how things are. If you’re locked inside an office, you can’t observe or interact with others to gather that information.
- Cross train yourself and other staff so that patients never hear, “That’s not my job.” In a busy office, everyone has a specific job to do. But when things get crazy, or someone calls in sick, that cross-training can save stress, keep patients happy, and make sure that your office procedures are followed without issue. Not everyone will be completely proficient at every job, but covering the basics (computer programs, check-in/check-out procedures, etc.) will ensure reduced frustration for everyone.
- Automate appointment reminders to relieve the burdens and responsibilities of your staff. Appointment reminders not only reduce the workload of staff but have been shown to reduce no-shows by about 80%—meaning your schedule stays full and your revenue doesn’t suffer. Automating appointment reminders will also boost patient satisfaction and loyalty by providing them with regular communication that can be customized to fit each patient’s specific needs and schedule.
- Offer online self-scheduling. Not only will this be one of the smartest moves you make, but you will wonder how you ever managed without it. You may reflect often on the days you struggled to get everything done because of how time consuming it was to answer and make calls to patients to schedule their appointments. Experts estimate that it takes just over 8 minutes to schedule an appointment. That time could be better spent actually getting to know the patients that are in your office. Not to mention— 77% of patients say they would prefer to be able to self-schedule online.
- Remember common courtesy. Answer calls promptly, return messages in a timely fashion, and answer emails without letting them pile up. And don’t ask your staff to screen your calls. You’re not fooling your caller, and you’re creating extra work for your staff. Being direct and professional is far better than avoiding and creating a more difficult situation.
- Foster good communication and relations with your staff by keeping the lines of communication open. Address issues before they become problems (such as chronic tardiness, gossiping, or inappropriate behaviors). Address concerns privately and then keep them private. Gossip is a giant dagger in the heart of an office, so don’t allow it to start. Address personality issues privately and diplomatically to avoid the hint of favoritism that causes staff members to have to pick sides.
- Assist in marketing your clinic. Put someone in charge of online reputation management and running and monitoring social media engagement. This process can be made easier through technology. Address negative comments quickly, and look for opportunities to promote the positive aspects of your office. Find ways to encourage online reviews. By helping with the marketing of your office, you’re creating job security for you, your staff, and your docs.
These eight simple steps will transform your practice as you create an environment that is efficient, professional and more productive. In addition, putting these tips into practice will ensure an atmosphere that both patients and staff will appreciate and will likely improve patient retention and acquisition. Satisfied patients stay put and spread the word!
Want to know even more? Check out our free ebook that discusses ways to increase office efficiency.