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Medical Practice Business And Marketing Articles

Article #25 - Sep. 2011


“Medical Office Employee Training—Every
Doctor’s Achilles Heel”

Fail at this and you’re revenue drops significantly.

I’ll never forget the problems I had in the 1970’s with my own medical staff when I believed that hiring office staff people who had already worked in other medical offices was key to my office efficiency, productivity, and growth. 

It seemed smart.  It was logical.  But, as we mature in our medical office practice business we all find that sometimes the smart and logical things we do are not the right things for the business of medical practice. 

When one of the employees didn’t show up for work, the office slowed down considerably, some other employee wound up doing two jobs, patients had to wait longer to be seen, and confusion reigned. The incredible part of this was that I had no reason not to think that this is what I had to learn to live with in my solo practice. 

It happened in all my associates offices as well, but knowing that never relieved my frustration and stress caused by the situation.  Having no medical office management training myself, no money to pay a trained medical office manager to do it for me, I did the best I could under the circumstances.  You can eliminate that problem in your old or new medical practice.

If I had had at least some small business management education during my training, which even today medical schools refuse to teach or even offer to students, I would have had a much higher probability for a much more income producing practice. 

Inevitably, physicians and other health care providers in business either have to take the time to learn business, business management, on their own, or live with a mediocre, stagnant medical practice for years to come.  If you don’t believe it, I suggest you speak with older doctors in private medical practice who can give you a profound jolt of reality.  

Maybe you think it’s OK to let your office staff learning and education become an employee to employee training program without your participation? You certainly can’t run a medical practice by yourself.  You hire office staff, which is a good indication that you understand the perils of doing everything on your own and why they have importance to your medical practice.

Logic says, if a medical staff is important to your professional practice, wouldn’t you prefer to have an office staff that is highly efficient and loyal to your goals for the practice?  How are employees going to find out what you want done and how you want things done in your office?

Is your new employee training process the consequence of being taught by older employees who you never trained in the first place. That’s what goes on in over 90% of medical offices.  It’s also a good part of the reason why business expert Michael Gerber, THE E-MYTH: PHYSICIAN, considers that over 90% of medical practices are “mediocre.” I’d wager that you never considered your practice to be mediocre.        

Even in the case of old employees, you probably have no clear idea what you expect of them.  They adapt to the lack of “correction” or “chastising” as approval of whatever they do.  You certainly can “get by” with that compromising attitude about your office staff, but it doesn’t allow the lifestyle you once expected from your education.

For those who know and then ignore these landmines, it’s a clear and profound indication that they never expected much out of their
career anyway.

For those doctors who continue to be driven towards improving and growing their practices, there are great rewards coming.
 

The basic behavior patterns of medical office staff employees requires education and training

Even you, know that the usual worker today does only as much as is demanded of them and nothing else.  If they aren’t continually nudged, they drift even lower in their work efforts. 

This gives every employee, hopefully only a few, the opportunity to cheat on hours working, manipulating other members of the office staff to help do their work for them, and offer absolutely no creative or innovative ideas for improving the practice. 

This description matches what Dan Kennedy, expert in marketing strategies and business, says about an employee, “The only purpose for an employee is to make a business profitable.”  If they don’t contribute, they gotta go.

This behavior of any office staff members can be altered by giving the proper attention to the teaching and training of medical office personnel. 

One of the world’s greatest public speakers, Nido R. Qubein, points out in his book, “HOW TO BE A GREAT COMMUNICATOR”, that in today’s workforce an employee can only be trained to do mechanical things, but stops there.  An organization’s success depends on the best coordination up and down the management levels, to the last employee. 

It is not achieved without effective communication to, “unify the people toward a common vision, a common mission, and common goals.”

The idea in the past has been to spend way too much time to teach employees what to do.  We should be thinking more about what the medical staff thinks, how they feel, and how they behave.  Spending too much time getting a job done, instead of producing excellent results is the weak point.  Workers spend too much time conforming than to creating.  You don’t
train, you educate.

Successful businesses are composed of employees educated in non-mechanical skills, like goal setting, problem solving, decision making, conflict management, among others.  Those are the goals every doctor should teach their medical office staff members in order to get the most productivity out of them.  I’ll be creating a manual soon of how to do it.

What does this all mean to doctors who manage a medical office?
 

Medical office staff education is more important than training for two reasons...

1. Robert B. Cialdini, PhD, has shown that influencing people’s behavior and reactions to a job or request is dramatically improved when one gives a “because” reason behind their request. “INFLUENCE: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF PERSUASION,” contains many examples of studies where he demonstrates this behavior. 

Taking this to the medical office indicates that when the doctor or office manager tells an employee to do something, the employee is far more likely to perform the job that's assigned better if they know and understand the reason for doing it.  You educate your employees.  Make the time to do it yourself, or hire it done.

2. When a doctor is open with his or her objectives, mission, and practice goals with the medical office staff, it allows for the employee to mentally move their mindset from a job completion effort only, to that of a mindset where creativity, inspiration, and desire to become an insider on the staff is inspired.
 

Factors that bring the best out of your medical office staff...

1. You must believe that education of your office staff improves your office productivity and income. If you don’t, then you need more education about business.

2. You must commit the time and effort on a regular basis to educate, inform, and communicate with all your office staff. (ex. 1 hour each week at a specified time)

3. When your staff sees you making these efforts yourself, they become more compliant with a desire to help improve the office business—advantages to them as well.

Imagine for a minute that you’re one of those physicians who has no interest in... good grief... educating your office staff. Why would a staffer go out of their way to suggest creative ideas for seeing more patients, or regaining ones that have left your practice, or better methods to handle the 90-day accounts? 

Your staff only sees that you are out of the office most of the time, you scarcely ever speak to them in any personal or complimentary way, and you keep all your personal feelings and beliefs a secret from them.  You must be a true introvert, which hamstrings you for life.

Imagine how frustrating it is for a member of your office staff to offer their help, even when it’s not in their job description, on a project you have going and then never hear a thank you for it. If you believe that these things are all taken for granted, you probably are divorced or near it. 

Nothing should be taken for granted.  Your mouth must be educated to say what should be said at the time it should be said—not the next day. Not only that, your mouth must be trained to repeatedly speak those same complimentary phrases over and over on a regular basis no matter how silly or ridiculous it may seem to you to have to do so.

How to move your office staff from wild turkeys running through the forest of patients and paperwork to their full potential of genius and creativeness that continues to ooze out through their skin and are unable to control it? Then you can educate them because they are ready to learn and implement. 

You know the process. You just haven’t had time to think about it, especially with all the alligators in the pond.

Here's how to create employee inspiration...

1. First, you have to demonstrate your desire to work hard to improve and grow your practice, instead of gabbing for hours with the other doctors in the doctor’s lounge at the hospital... something obvious to them whether you believe that or not.

2. Second , make yourself a social networker inside your office. It proves to your office staff that you are congenial, friendly, open to discussions, like to hear other opinions, and are interested in how they feel and what they want or need.  This is easily done by informing them of your thoughts, ideas, and plans about what you intend to do with your practice, emphasizing goals and strategies that you hope they can contribute to.

3. Third , be persistent, consistent, and verbal on frequent repeated occasions about where you are headed with your practice.  The message is that what you said prior continues to be the focus of the practice and wasn’t just a flash in the dark.  They understand you are serious, and they should be too... or leave.

4. Fourth , convince the staff that you need all their help, which lets them know they are part of the enterprise, company, or practice... not just a temporary unimportant person outside the inner circle. It establishes loyalty, respect, and reassurance for their value.

5. Fifth, time to weed out the non-performers so that they don’t poison the rest of the office staff.

6. Sixth , be very clear about your expectations for each staff member. This process alerts each member of the office staff that those expectations can only be met if they are educated enough to meet those expectations.    
     By this time the staff is prepared to learn what you will teach them because they want to be part of the great adventure you have in store for them. They see themselves as important, productive, creative, and self-esteem abundant.

7. Seventh , establish a schedule for the education sessions and how you want them to be conducted. Determine the topics for each session before beginning the sessions so they know what to expect. Remember, that each staffer has their own talents and skills. 
      Each will need private education sessions to take full advantage of their skills. Every session whether done in a group or separately must be instructed on how each bit of knowledge fits into the whole picture you have in mind for the practice.

8. Eighth , determine who will teach the class sessions.  For the best outcome, you should be the teacher and instructor.  The impossibility of having anyone else teach what you want to be taught in the way you want it to come across to your staff, requires you to teach them. 
      You can hire it done because there are specialists who do this kind of teaching.  However, they still can’t compare to what you can teach them because your practice and functionality is unique
to you only.

9. Ninth , after the education process is done, you must follow-up diligently to insure all that has been constructed or created is persistently kept up and expanded.  There’s no end to the growth and expansion of the practice.  The whole process becomes a routine habit pattern for your staff. 

10. Tenth , when the progress you see happening because of this effort, try not to brag. You now have a well-oiled money machine that will work on automatic even when you’re not present. You can be proud of the fact that you are the one out of 100,000 doctors who has reached your full potential for your office business.
 

It goes without saying that you will need to study business and marketing in an ongoing fashion to keep up with what is working in business at the time. My suggestion is to subscribe to many online business and marketing newsletters.

Contact me
for the information about the best newsletters and for my recommendations (presently the best is www.newsletterpro.com ). If you would like to read about what factors determine how successful your medical practice could be, I suggest you read my eBook on the topic.
 

Comment about the "time expense" of doing business efficiently...

For you or any healthcare provider with a practice, to have a highly productive and proficient office staff that have an educated view of your medical office business means, expect conflicts with your time, patient services, and family sometimes.  It’s the price you have to pay for reaching your maximum potential as a physician and maximum potential for your
medical practice. 

It occurs to me that you have already become used to sacrifices and conflicts during your college and medical education, so it’s not something new to you.  The surprise here is that you thought that you could slack off after graduation and the Board Exams and still hit your peak. Never happen!

The author, Curt Graham, is a highly experienced business and marketing expert, copywriter, and entrepreneur who has been published in various media over 50 years while in medical practice and after.
Discover what it takes for you to reach the optimal limits of your potential in medical practice, and how to do it: Click The Link NOW!
www.howtopropelyourmedicalpracticeincome.com

© 2004-2011, Curt Graham M.D., All rights reserved.

    

Article #25A

 

My Views On Medical Matters

 

October 2011-- "Doctor's Terror Of Office Management Duties"

It seems to me...

     After reading a recent article about business management and the difficulties that business administrators have in doing their jobs, I immediately could visualize the close connection to why most physicians not only have difficulty with the administration of their own medical practice business, but also why all professional medical providers are victims of their own attributes.
 
     It's well recognized and accepted that entrepreneurs make lousy managers and administrators.  Medical doctors are, by definition, entrepreneurs.  It would be difficult to argue against that premise because doctors function in the same environment, or world, as all entrepreneurs. 

     Almost every patient comes to the physician with a symptom, or complaint, or medical problem that may not present an easily recognizable pattern of a disease or diagnosis.  So, here in the first minute of speaking with his patient, doctors find themselves outside their comfort zone and involved in mental creativity.
 
     The doctor can then open their mind to all kinds of possibilities for diagnosing the problem as well as possible treatments, all of which are subliminally squeezed out of the memory banks by the subconscious mind.  From there, the search becomes more focused, and the possibilities are narrowed down. 

     The whole pile of information and findings are funneled down to the most obvious cause which usually has a most common treatment. If that's not the case, the doctor ends up in entrepreneur heaven with bundles of ideas and a great opportunity to solve the problem anyway, and show the world what they're made of... perhaps even the elite medical school they graduated from.

     Getting back to those attributes I mentioned above. Several are those that are a real pain in the ass for those doctors in private practice who avoid taking full control of their office business. They avoid the responsibility for management of their medical business, and avoid attempting to learn and implement time proven business principles every physician must have for maximizing their own potential in practice. 

     The highest potential for their business income and efficiency results from the process. For doctors in this hypnotic state of avoidance, the inevitable consequences always show up, often when it's too late to do much about their circumstances.

     The crime is that it should never happen to any physician because it is
entirely preventable
.

    
A physician's greatest distaste for management is often that too much of the administrative work is either too routine, or not challenging enough to peak their interest. You know that the worst thing that can happen to you in medical practice
is to have two jobs at the same time.

     In one you are your own employee working for that invisible corporation you set up to run the practice business. The other is being the owner and CEO of the business which requires management of the business done by the only person responsible for the success of the business... you!

     Pushing the management job on to an untrained employee who thinks she or he can handle the job is downright stupidity. As the old saying goes, "Ignorance can be overcome by education, but stupidity lasts forever." 

     Hiring a person trained in management, dramatically improves the office business functioning, but does not remove your overall responsibility for supervising the manager and maintaining your control of every aspect of your medical practice business.  Managers earn higher salaries so you must earn more to pay them, which
is often a problem for physicians nowadays.
 
     Another trait doctors have that makes it difficult to manage their office is difficulty in delegating duties.  Most doctors want things done a certain way.  They often are not satisfied with how someone else does a job and would much rather do it themselves and have it done "right." 

     A mistake made by the majority of doctors who do delegate duties to their staff is that of not taking the time to explain to the employee exactly what he wants done in detail.  If it's done without a detailed explanation, you will get back what the person thinks you may have meant.

     Delegation of duties, including outsourcing, is a critical issue for business growth. Physicians must learn to be satisfied with, "good enough" work done by others. No one can do it all themselves.
 
     The distasteful idea of replacing yourself, your importance, your supreme talents, makes a huge dent in the ego and self esteem, which is another barrier to good management for doctors.
 
     We all develop habit patterns in our lives to make our life experiences easier and quicker. It's been reported that 80% of our daily activities are composed of habit patterns. For doctors, it's just another problem in their adjustment to a managerial status, where most everything in management is constantly changing, new problems, new innovations, new procedures, new employees, new systems, new toys, etc. 
 
     If there is one essential factor to keep in mind while thinking through all of this stuff, it's one that's known to all success business people, business experts, management experts, and maybe even your wife or husband.

     You need to make your productive time even more important than it is now. You must free up the time to do the $100/hr. job instead of doing the $10/hr. job.  It's very easy to find an employee to work for $10/hour but you rarely can find an employee capable of doing what the $100/hour requires. 

     That is what you must do yourself, no one else can do it. In most medical practices that job is marketing your medical practice and establishing a constant flow of new patients into your practice.

(How to weasel out the time to do the management process for
your practice business will be one of my articles soon to come.)

 

 

masonic emblembright colored American flag   Curt Graham, M.D.
   2404 Mason Ave.  Las Vegas, NV 89102
    E-mail = cgmdrx(at)gmail.com
 
    © 2004 - 2015 Curtis Graham, M.D.,  All Rights Reserved.