Specialist medical practices experiencing meltdown or decline because a Practice Manager or key staff member leaves is common, but it doesn’t have to be.

Taking the time to create or replicate effective and efficient protocols and procedures around every task that your medical secretary/practice manager completes, is one the most important things you can do when setting up and managing your specialist medical practice.

Staff go on leave, they get sick and they take other jobs. Putting a heavy emphasis on the production of effective procedures, reduces the reliance on people and makes systems the backbone of your medical practice administration.

Of course, good staff are still required and you should provide a culture where they will want to stay, but being able to train staff to follow protocols and established methods of performing work, rather than relying on good staff, who just get it done, is a far better strategy for reducing downtime, training time and errors in administration tasks.

An administration protocols handbook should be developed to cover every possible scenario that your medical secretary will encounter, contain an easy to use search function and should be available in an easily accessible electronic version.

As new employees to your practice, experienced medical secretaries can often bring bad habits with them from other practices. It is important to make adoption of your practice requirements a factor of success in their new role and overcome any change reluctance that occurs because they “did it that way at their last practice”. Be open to the idea that it is possible to have success training secretaries with no prior experience, as they don’t have another way of “doing things”,  that they’re not willing to let go of.

It’s amazing what happens in a practice when staff are not trained correctly and an effective task handbook hasn’t been compiled and regularly updated.

  • Important patient notes can appear in a variety of different places in the clinical software, be scribbled on bits of paper or lost after personal phone messages are deleted
  • Incorrect equipment can be ordered for an operation that is conducted infrequently
  • Incorrect prices can be quoted or charged to patients
  • Slow turnaround times on task completion can turn into lost patients and referrers
  • Clinics can run out of simple items like tissues and bandages

A good specialist medical practice with defined and a regularly updated administration procedure manual, will learn that the manual is as important as the Practice Manager, and it won’t take leave or find another job.

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