Getting Your Medical Practice Staff to Work as a Team

March 1, 2013

Members of your medical practice working together is vital to efficiently treat patients and have a successful office.

In a busy medical office, each new day brings new challenges that must be addressed. There has never been a more daunting task the physician must face than to get his/her employees to work together as a team. In my office, I strive to encourage employees to work as a single unit, rather than the front-office staff versus the back-office staff. There are several ways this can be addressed and I will outline some of the ways I have handled it.

Nonclinical employees must realize that they are an important cog in the wheel of patient care. This concept has been stressed by me since day one of my practice. Even though the reception staff might not have an actual hand in providing care for the patient, I remind them that they are the first faces our patients see when they come to the office. A friendly smile and greeting is very important. Patients will not want to come back to an office where they do not feel welcome and this is so very important when the reception staff greets them or speaks to them on the phone. The reception staff understands that verifying demographic information, insurance information, etc., ensures that we will be able to contact the patient successfully when needed and also enables us to successfully bill for the services provided.

Cross training employees to help each other when needed is vital. In our practice, there are three providers and four nurses. The extra nurse is very helpful for administering allergy injections, fingerstick INR monitoring, and vaccine administration for walk-in patients. If the number of walk ins should be higher than normal, the other nurses will pitch in and help as needed. If there are no walk ins present and the waiting room is full of scheduled patients to be seen, the float nurse assists with obtaining vitals and rooming the patients. Each nurse also regularly reviews the intra-office messaging system and all are able to phone or contact patients by our online portal for delivery of instructions or results. The extra nurse has worked well for providing adequate coverage if one of the other nurses happens to be sick or off for a scheduled vacation. Each nurse knows that the others will help as needed and this has worked well thus far.

Schedule routine meetings with each group of employees at your medical practice. Have you ever had employees that seem to not be as efficient or as busy as you would like? There is no better method for encouraging better productivity than to regularly meet with each specific group of employees and review your expectations. This has worked well thus far with each group and during these meetings I allow the employees to have a brainstorming session for providing suggestions for improving work flow and efficiency.

Another method of measuring your employees' performance is to randomly poll your patients.

• How did nurse X do today?

• Did receptionist Y ask for your demographic information?

• Was the office staff helpful for you today?

• Do you have any suggestions as to how we can improve the services provided to you?

Each recommendation listed is but one way to encourage your employees to work well as a unit. Remind them of how important they are. Remind them that they are doing a good job. Remind them that you could not provide the care to your patients without them. You will find that following some simple steps, as listed above, will motivate your employees to work even harder. The patients will see this and they will be pleased as well.