Ten Things Physicians Should Know about Practice Managers

June 20, 2014

A great medical practice manager can position your practice for success. Here are 10 things that physicians should know about these important individuals.

Medical practice managers and administrators play an integral role in physician practices. If provided with adequate resources, training, and educational opportunities, they can manage the business of care delivery - allowing physicians to devote their time to patient care.

Here are 10 things every physician should know about these important individuals:

1. Practice managers and administrators wear many hats. They are experts in operations management, financial management, human resources management, organizational governance, risk and compliance management, and patient-centered care. Physicians can be confident that they are highly competent and efficient, and experts in medical practice management. Employing a versatile and knowledgeable practice manager will position your organization for success.

2. Practice managers and administrators should pursue board certification in medical practice management. Board certification in medical practice management helps to validate that practice managers have the knowledge and skills to excel in a practice. Credentials in medical practice management include CMPE and FACMPE. If your managers do not have these credentials, provide them with opportunities and resources to pursue them.

3. Practice managers and administrators are playing an increasingly important role in serving patients. Managing a medical practice involves cultivating a team of sophisticated and knowledgeable staff that ensures patients have a positive experience when they visit the office.

4. Practice managers and administrators can help guide collaborations with other healthcare stakeholders. There are many new ways providers and organizations are formally and informally collaborating and integrating. Medical practice managers can evaluate options, and strategically guide alignments that will benefit your practice. Physicians can be assured that practice managers have the tools and resources they need to understand and evaluate these opportunities, through education and networking that is facilitated by their professional memberships.  

5. Practice managers and administrators can help practices improve care quality while reducing costs. Managers can use EHRs to identify and group patients with chronic diseases and/or conditions, such as diabetes. This can help practices better tailor their treatment approaches and target various patient populations. Physicians should ensure that their managers have adequate training to use the software and tools available to them within their practices.

6. Practice managers and administrators navigate the complex regulatory environment. There are a plethora of federal regulations that practices need to be aware of and adhere to and medical practice managers can ensure groups remain in compliance and keep up-to-date with the evolving regulatory environment. Setting aside time for practice managers to learn about and understand applicable regulations will help to minimize your practice’s risk in the long run.

7. Practice managers and administrators can implement and optimize technology that drives better patient outcomes and guarantees efficient practice operations. Managers can lead the charge in implementing EHRs and practice management systems, as well as other technology solutions that help patients, such as portals that are designed to engage patients in their care. Physicians and practice managers should collaborate to understand the technology needs of the organization, then to ensure that it’s operationalized thoughtfully. Additionally, be sure that staff are trained to input and access data accurately. 

8. Practice managers and administrators know their data. In addition to understanding and monitoring the many metrics that payers require, practice managers can use data to benchmark their organizations against their peers. They can use industry data, such as from the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), to develop physician compensation plans, monitor the cost of running a medical group, and assess how to best staff their practice. A benefit to setting aside time to participate in industry surveys is then accessing the survey data for free, which gives your practice up-to-date, relevant information.

9. Practice managers and administrators ensure patients have access to prompt, appropriate levels of care and manage cases between facilities.

10. Practice managers and administrators help physicians devote their time to patient care. Because practice managers are experts in the business of care delivery, they can run an efficient practice, allowing physicians to devote 100 percent of their time to patients. In trusting and teaming with your medical practice staff, physicians can spend their time visiting with and caring for patients, with assurance that practice operations are being run smoothly, efficiently, and effectively to position your practice for long-term success and sustainability.

Stephen A. Dickens, JD, FACMPE, is a risk management specialist and the MGMA board chair. E-mail him here.