By Lori Waltz
Director of Training
You and your team carefully screen all job candidates to make sure they’re a good fit. After a few weeks of medical staff training, your front office staff knows all about your specialty or your primary service lines, and they’re a big advocate for your practice or hospital.
But if you think this is the only step they need for success, you’re missing some crucial steps—and this could result in a major loss of revenue for you.
Of course, you’re primarily focused on providing great care. But at the end of the day, you need the front desk staff to help bring in more patients. And that requires dedicated, ongoing management and leadership from you and your team.
Management vs. Leadership
There are a few key distinctions between management and leadership. Leaders anticipate change. Managers react to change. Leaders inspire, while managers organize. A leader might demonstrate how processes should work, while a manager implements and oversees tasks to make it happen.
When you manage medical staff at a practice or hospital, your goal should be to become both a manager and a leader. You should have systems in place to get things done, while helping your staff to convert more patients efficiently. Here’s how to make that happen.
Stay in the Know and in the Action
In any business, it’s easy for management to become disconnected from what goes on in the day-to-day life of the staff. In a healthcare organization, when the front desk staff is the main gateway for new patient calls, it’s extremely important to know what’s happening on the phone and in person every day.
Part of effective staff management involves creating processes for converting callers into patients. True leadership requires you to be in the rough with the rest of the staff so you can listen to phone calls and note opportunities for improvement.
Some tips to make this happen: keep your office door open, participate in calls, or create training sessions based on actual client calls. You can even use HIPAA-compliant systems to listen to calls in order to make better suggestions for your staff.
Provide Ongoing Medical Staff Training
Too many healthcare organizations provide little or no medical staff training beyond the initial onboarding. They may even allow recently resigned employees to train their incoming replacements. (Yikes.)
No matter how intelligent and charismatic your new staff member may be, a few weeks of training is not enough to last. We all know that just because someone knows what to do, doesn’t mean it will always be done.
The only way to ensure continued follow-through is with continued training. Good leaders find opportunities for improvement wherever they can. Good managers organize training opportunities into regularly scheduled meetings. Combine these strategies for effective training sessions.
If you don’t tell people what you expect of them, they can’t provide it to you. Ongoing support and leadership will ensure everyone is always on the same page, whether training sessions center around teamwork, customer service, call conversions, patient experience, HIPAA, or whatever is relevant that week.
Set an Agenda for Your Meetings
Having regular meetings is key to making your staff feel heard and implementing positive change around the office. But in order to do this, you have to set an agenda to follow.
Too often, well-intended meetings slip into something that sounds a lot more like complaining. Meetings might center around who left dirty dishes on the sink—rather than how you can work as a team to provide a better experience to current and prospective patients.
Make regular meetings interdepartmental, so everyone from every team is on the same page. For example, rather than pointing fingers at billing or at the front desk, the two teams can communicate what they need from one another for better efficiency.
Meetings should always have an agenda, and that agenda should be centered on attainable goals, employment needs, and improving patient care. If you hold daily huddles each morning, make sure you’re having productive conversations about the day’s work and expectations.
Listen to What Staff Has to Say
Finally, a good manager and leader cannot simply hold a meeting and tell the staff what has to change. They have to be open to listening to their employees’ needs.
Open up a forum, and listen to what the staff has to say about their day-to-day challenges. Set l limits on what can and should be shared, but be open to new ideas about implementing change around the office.
This helps your business in two ways. First, with job satisfaction and staff retention. But secondly, your staff is immersed in the day-to-day activities, and knows which changes are possible and which ones aren’t. All in all, your staff is the key to finding positive, effective processes that help them convert and keep patients within your organization.