Know What Your Medical Practice Employees are Doing at All Times

September 28, 2013

Keeping an eye on medical practice employees can be tricky, so implement transparency, accountability and expectation into their daily work life.

I cannot believe how many articles I am reading about staff who handles any type of cash at a medical practice embezzling from their employers. In the past two months, I've either spoken with physicians who have shared their horror stories of this happening, or read articles about this going on every day. Some of the stories are just unbelievable.

One thing I do know and understand is transparency. Without it, employees can:

1. Change the position over time.

2. Hide work that is not being completed.

 3. Keep you in the dark about what the job really entails.

 4. Demand raises and better benefits because you really have no idea how it all gets done (or if it does!).

With transparency in a position, any position really, there is a job description, policies and procedures, clear expectations, communication and a watchdog to make sure these things happen. Without all of these, there is still an opportunity for problems to arise.

We've recently begun slowly changing a front-office position from just about zero transparency to absolute transparency. Did I mention this is a slow transition?  Employees who have always held their jobs close to themselves will have a difficult time during this movement, but stick with it; it's for the best. They will even thank you later once it is all complete. Just like when you're driving your car, there are lines painted on the road for you to follow. Everyone understands what those lines are and if they're not followed, what could ensue.

This concept of everyone knowing what everyone else is doing, and cross training to learn others' administrative jobs is really the best way to operate your medical practice. This way, if someone is out sick or on vacation in a critical position, the practice doesn't just "get by" until they return. There should always be someone (or more than one) who can step in and go with the workload.

When you hire any new employee and they walk into an office where there is never going to be a place to hide, the temptation of stealing or cheating at anything is never an option. You end up with fewer employee problems and dissatisfaction, less interpersonal issues with co-workers, and you never have to wonder if any one of your trusted staff has cross the line to the dark side.

One of the things I find most in a practice is that accountability is lacking. When I say lacking, I mean non-existent. If you do not have a manager that is creating policies, updating procedures, following up with staff, and resolving issues instead of ignoring them, then you have no idea what is really going on. Don't be that practice that has to shut its doors because a staff member is holding you hostage.

Does your staff know what you really expect of them? You assume they know, but where is it written down or how often is it communicated? Without clear expectations, the employee can interpret their workload themselves, and you don't really want that. You have to know and understand their jobs and the tasks involved in order to set these expectations, but having something measurable to work with is key.

Transparency, accountability, and expectation. By implementing these concepts into your daily work life at your practice, you will find that your office will flow easier, you will have happier employees, and you will be able to focus on what you do best.