Top-10 Physicians Practice Pearls for 2015

December 23, 2015

Each week we share expert advice on running your practice in Physicians Practice Pearls. Here are your favorites from 2015.

Once each week we share expert advice on all things "practice management," ranging from integrating advanced practice providers into a practice to the best ways to connect with patients on social media. Here are 10 of our most popular Physicians PracticePearls columns in 2015.

#1

Eight Things You Don't Want to Hear in the Exam Room

All of us have heard our share of patient complaints. One persistent issue is that patients often don't understand their doctor's instructions.

"Just because your patient nods his head doesn't mean he understands you. Ask patients to explain in their own words what you have shared and advised."

#2

Nine Scheduling Techniques to Improve Patient Work Flow

Dealing with time crunches and last minute additions to the physician's schedule can make for a harried day. One way to improve your scheduling process is to be creative.

"Based on historical data, create more flexible appointment time-slots, rather than having only 15-minute or 30-minute appointments."

#3

Five Reasons Your Staff Fails to Collect from Patients

Collecting from patients is vital to a practice's bottom line. But often, it is an inconsistent process, done poorly. Remember, just because you have a financial policy doesn't move staff to action.

"Point-of-service collections require a thoughtfully coordinated program approach. Develop policies and procedures. Provide training, technology, tools, scripts, and talking points that support the staff's ability to [collect from patients]."

#4

Seven Social Skills They Don't Teach in Medical School

Patients and colleagues benefit from a physician's ability to communicate with confidence. However those skills are often not part of the medical school curriculum. Creating a strong social media presence is one way to connect with patients on their own turf.

"People form an impression of you and your practice the instant they land on your website, visit your practice's Facebook page, or check out your Twitter feed. Take control of your image by posting a professional headshot …"

#5

Hire Medical Practice Staff for Keeps

Hiring staff is most likely a common occurrence in your medical practice. Do it wrong, and the ripples impact patient satisfaction and retention, quality care, staff morale, and your bottom line. Here are seven tips to help you hire for keeps.

"We hire slow and fire fast. We are looking for that right mix of skills, aptitudes, values, adaptability, and personality - that unique person who fits in with existing employees."

#6

Ten Elements of a New Employee Orientation Plan

Sure your practice is busy, but don't neglect the chance to welcome new hires, and set them on the road to success. First impressions are golden, so make the most of Day 1.

"Honor each new employee's arrival by putting his name on the welcome board and providing continental breakfast for the team."

#7

Help Your Medical Practice Hire Well: 15 Tips

Hiring the right candidate for your medical practice is not the easiest task. But if you prepare beforehand and ask the right questions, you can pick a winner.

"When candidates with impressive resumes respond to your ad, cull them quickly and don't postpone the interview. Applicants are on the move and the good ones get snapped up quickly."

#8

Physicians Contract with Self-Funded Employers

Some medical practices are cutting out insurance companies and providing services directly to employers, thereby reducing overhead and cost to patients.

"Direct care takes the administrative cost and risk out of the equation for physicians, allowing them to offer services directly to employers at a reasonable rate. In addition, with no restrictions to conform to insurance companies' narrow rules and lean payments, physicians are able to offer expanded care … at a defined price covering all aspects of care."

#9

Motivate Medical Practice Staff by Being Positive

Studies show that positive reinforcement is far more powerful than negative directives. Noticing and praising desired behaviors can help you motivate your staff to succeed.

"Be specific, give details. Identify what your staff member did that resulted in a positive impact. Describe the behavior that you want to see more of (remember, the brain will hear the message as a signal to do more of that behavior)."

#10

Proactive Patient Payment Plans Made Easy

It's no secret that patient financial responsibilities are higher than ever. So why wait until after the insurance company pays to collect a big balance from patients?

"By taking a few proactive steps, your team can offer payment plans that reduce patients' anxiety about what they owe, automate the collection process, and settle the patient's balance in six months or less."