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Strategies to Ensure Buy-In with Practice Policies


Like any successful business, your practice needs to be anchored by clearly defined policies. Here's how to develop consensus among your staff.

Like any successful business, your medical practice needs to be anchored by clearly defined policies and procedures. Not everyone who works for you will agree with your executive decisions, though. Nonetheless, it's important that your management guidelines are observed and respected.

One of the best ways to accomplish individual and team adherence to your corporate guidelines is to include employees when establishing them. Then, to increase the likelihood that staff members will heed the policies your practice has collectively established, you need to document and store them in a place that is easily accessible. And, most importantly, you must make sure the standards are consistently modeled by team members who are in positions of leadership.

Here is a five-step plan to help you create compliance and ensure the efficient and smooth operation of your medical practice.

1. Start with guiding principles.

Guiding principles are the foundation of your medical business. They declare your values and define the character of your practice. To attain them, determine - in one sentence - how you will address each of these five factors within your practice: time, attitude, communication, appearance, and disharmony. For example, a guiding principle regarding attitude could be, "We will bring our most positive selves to work each day and treat our patients and one another with kindness and respect."

2. Think in terms of expectations.

It's one thing to say you'll do something; it's quite another to make a habit of stating by what date and time you'll do it. As a group, commit to replacing obscure statements like, "I'll get this to you next week," with, "You can expect this in your inbox by Thursday at 5 p.m." And when someone gives you a vague promise, it's perfectly okay to ask "When can I expect to hear back from you?" You'll be amazed by how your clearly articulated expectations will turn ambiguous intentions into firm commitments.

3. Invite staff to contribute.

Top-down rules can come across as orders rather than policies. That's why it's wise to ask for input from your colleagues when crafting your corporate guidelines. Staff members will likely add a variety of different perspectives you may not have thought of. And including their ideas in the policy manual will bring a deeper sense of ownership and belonging to your practice.

4. Consider the consequences.

There's no sense in having operational policies if you're unwilling to deal with dissenters. Determine in advance how you will handle circumstances where people demonstrate a lack of respect for your standards. This is where written protocols become very valuable. Having them empowers you to deal with facts over feelings. Referring to a written policy or procedure enables you to address the conflict at hand rather than unintentionally calling out a personality flaw or lack of good judgment.

5. Review annually.

Stagnation kills standards. Any manual that sits on a physical or virtual shelf for over a year without reassessment will become outdated and forgotten. Make sure you're up to date with the changing times in your practice by scheduling an annual review of your guiding principles and general protocols. A progressive attitude and timely updates will guarantee the smooth functionality of your medical practice.

Clear communication, group involvement, exemplary leadership, and strong guiding principles are the cornerstones that create respectful observance of your policies and procedures. Make sure your medical practice operates smoothly by integrating a commitment to professionalism with expectations of consistently high professional standards.

Sue Jacquesis a professionalism expert who specializes in medical and corporate civility. A veteran forensic medical investigator, Jacques is a keynote speaker, author, and consultant who helps people and practices prosper through professionalism. She may be reached via www.TheCivilityCEO.com.

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