Musings on Staff Relations from a Practice Owner

September 26, 2016

Dr. Hoffman looks at what it takes to have a competent, successful staff when you own your own practice.

We all have employees at our offices. Some of the people assist us in the clinical practice of medicine, while the rest are for the clerical and administrative side of the practice, including billing, scheduling, referrals, pre-authorizations, and records. Some practices have one or two workers, while others have many.

To run an office you need smooth interaction between the staff at all times. The staff must be friendly and competent, in the way the office needs to be run to maximize patient care and revenue and minimize conflict and problems. People have different personalities. Some employees are very competent at their job but just cannot interact properly with other staff or patients. Others are great with the patients and other staff but do a poor job otherwise. Some excel at both.

My office manager has been with me for 30 years. Over that period we have seen a lot of employees come and go. Since I have been in practice four employees have passed away; many married, and others have found other jobs and left. Surprisingly some of those same employees came back to work here after they found out how they were treated elsewhere.

At times it has been necessary to terminate people for poor job performance and at least three I had arrested for calling in controlled substances for themselves or friends without authorization. Through it all we have done our best to teach the employees what is needed to run the office. In return they receive a salary, life, health, and disability insurance. I also completely fund their retirement plan at no cost to them.

No employee has ever been terminated without myself and my manager in complete agreement that there is no other option. I want long-term people, not a revolving door of workers. Owning my office gives me complete control of the staff and ability to that whatever steps are necessary to correct problems immediately. A physician employee has no immediate control over his own office staff as everyone in the office is employed by a third party. Conflicts and problems cannot be handled by the physician and that leads to poor outcomes and less patient satisfaction.