Duties to Delegate to Your Medical Practice Administrator

September 12, 2013
Marisa Torrieri

Aubrey Westgate

Are your physicians and staff members juggling too many responsibilities? Your practice administrator may be able to help.

Here are eight roles and responsibilities that physicians, administrators, and consultants say should belong to your medical practice administrator or office manager.

1. Practice representative. The administrator should serve as the point of contact for pharmaceutical representatives and technology vendors. That will help shield physicians from interruptions, says Carol Stryker, founder of Houston-based medical practice consulting firm Symbiotic Solutions.

2. Performance reporter. The administrator should provide physicians with a monthly practice performance report, says George Conomikes, CEO of medical practice management consulting firm Conomikes Associates. The report should gauge physicians' financial performance (billings by physician); collections performance (revenue); and effectiveness of billing/collections staff (net collections percentage and age of accounts receivable).

3. Policies and procedures creator. Policies and procedures are "the heart" of a well-run operation, but practices often lack them because they are so time consuming to create, says P.J. Cloud-Moulds, owner of consulting firm Turnaround Medical AR Recovery. Ask your administrator to create, enforce, and monitor great policies and procedures, she says.

4. Staff manager. Physicians should set the vision for the practice, but day-to-day staff management responsibilities belong to the administrator. "[Physicians] don't have to execute all of the bits and pieces of the vision and strategy," says Audrey "Christie" McLaughlin, a registered nurse turned healthcare consultant. "That is where an excellent practice administrator that can understand and fulfill your vision for your practice comes in. Specifically the largest task I would say must be delegated is day-to-day staff management."

5. Billing overseer. "Whether it is an in-house operation, or an outsourced facility, [an administrator's] involvement of denials management is critical," says Cloud-Moulds. "It's up to them to know what insurance companies pay what codes [and] how much they are paid per code and to keep that fee schedule up to date. With an up-to-date fee schedule, the front-office staff can collect correctly up front resulting in fewer and fewer statements that get sent out, never to be paid."

6. Technology strategist. Everything from staff training on technology to technology maintenance should be overseen by the administrator. "Ensure software and hardware are efficient and updated when needed," says healthcare consultant Chastity Werner.

7. Grunt worker. If no one else wants to do it, the administrator should step up to the plate. "Delegate disgruntled or angry patients, financial arrangements with patients regarding their bill, or anything and everything else that no one else wants to do to administrators," says Derrick Berger, practice manager for Houston-based Brazosport Urology, adding that insurance contract negotiating and insurance audits should also be the administrator's job.

8. HIPAA security officer. Maintaining HIPAA security compliance is an intricate and ongoing obligation, says Stryker, adding that most physicians do not have the time, patience, or focus to give it the attention it requires. That responsibility belongs to the administrator.

Marisa Torrieri is an associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at marisa.torrieri@ubm.com.

Aubrey Westgate is an associate editor for Physicians Practice. She can be reached at aubrey.westgate@ubm.com.

This article originally appeared in the September 2013 issue of Physicians Practice.