Physicians and managers know their practice depends on its staff to meet management's needs, complete the many important tasks required, and serve patients. One question you should ask yourself is "What objective measures do I use to rate my staff's performance, give them the feedback they deserve, and pay them what they are worth?" Staff morale might be great and you may think everything is running just fine, but what evidence do you have to prove this, and ensure one slacker isn't actually getting paid more for their position than some of the most reliable workers? Yes, it takes a team, but everyone needs to be treated fairly and that does require accountability.
The best way to ensure this is to write objective measures for each job description, which means everyone working at this position is graded on the same criteria. For example the person who schedules appointments might be required to perform each specific task with an assigned rate of compliance (such as 98 percent of the time) depending on what you think is reasonable. Here is an example.
The staffer should always:
• Announce the practice, give his name, and thank in-bound callers for calling;
• Ask each new patient how they heard about the practice;
• Verify and update each caller's demographic and insurance profile;
• Offer each patient the first available appointment with the doctor of their choice;
• Verify the appointment date and time;
• Communicate other requirements, such as bringing the insurance card and being prepared to pay the outstanding patient balance; and
• End each call by asking "Is there anything I can do for you today," followed by a thank you.
If you quantify the amount of output you expect from each staffer, you will be able to recognize when the workload has become too much for one person. For example an unflappable receptionist who is handling the arrival and departure of 40 patients a day may not be able to handle a patient increase of 20 percent. Rather than wait for disaster, management must divide up the workload differently, automate more tasks, or provide additional support.
In addition, accountability should be tied to defined behavior and expectations in the employee handbook. Examples might be: If an employee is tardy more than your practice defines as acceptable, morning or after lunch; fails to keep proper time records; violates HIPAA and does not respect patient confidentially; does not comply with the OSHA safety manual; or violates any standard employee regulations.
Personal behavior and attitude counts, so be sure to document disciplinary warnings when an employee disrespects and refuses to support coworkers; won't take direction from her supervisor; or fails to serve patients with kindness. Disciplinary actions will only be taken seriously if you document them in writing, handle the interaction professionally, and write up a performance improvement plan for the lagging employee. The plan should have measurable expectations that you and the staffer agree to in writing, and provides for monitoring ongoing performance to hold the staffer accountable for improvement.
It's your practice! Laying a solid foundation of accountability is critical to your success. By taking these steps you can ensure that it runs smoothly, everyone is committed to the practice, and most of all, dedicated to serving the patients.