Time is money. However, many doctors feel that they need to be in full control of every aspect of their practice for everything to run smoothly. This leaves less time for their primary duty of treating and attending to their patients. In order for a medical office to be successful, physicians need to learn to delegate work to employees. Though it is very important for physicians to understand how their practice works, they must do so by conducting on-going analysis and overseeing overall operations. Being involved in every detail can really slow down their productivity and cash flow.
In order to be comfortable relying on office staff, it is critical to select and keep great and efficient workers. Having a knowledgeable, experienced, and dedicated team can make or break a medical practice. Responsibilities should be well-defined and specific processes need to be put in place. Office managers ought to implement specific guidelines for compliance and performance, conduct regular training, and encourage open communication between staff and management. Having a solid workforce will allow physicians to worry less about operations and concentrate on patient care and practice growth. For example, here are some roles that various members of medical staff of a primary care office should be performing:
- Answer the phones and provide customer service
- Greet patients
- Schedule appointments
- Document and forward patients’ questions and requests to appropriate person
- Check-in and check-out patients
- Collect co-pays and any outstanding balance
- Scan and upload all documents into EMR/PM software
Prior to appointment:
- Enter in patients’ demographics and insurance information o Check eligibility and benefits
- Obtain prior-authorization or referral
During office visits:
- Start the encounter
- Record vital signs
- Review/input: allergies, history, medications list, other
- Briefly discuss and enter into the EMR the Chief Complaint and Review of Systems
- Based on physician’s requests, fill e-Rx, develop referral, perform EKG, etc.
- Based on office protocol, handle patients’ requests and questions, and refill medications
- Ensure operations run smoothly
- Hire, manage, and train employees—including: office protocol and expectations, job responsibilities and duties, software use, HIPAA compliance, overall insurance understanding, etc.
- Payroll and QuickBooks
- Mail retrieval and organization
- Bank deposits
- Vendor relations—assess quality, performance, need, usage, and contracts on a quarterly basis
- Invoice/bill management, review, and payments
- Office performance and production analysis—discuss with physician and staff (if applicable)
- Review and submit encounters (claim scrubbing)
- EDI management/Clearinghouse confirmation
- Track and follow-up on all claims
- Perform denials/rejections resubmissions and appeals
- Payments posting
- Patients’ statements
- Customer service for patients’ statements
- Transition patients to collections
- Reports analysis/feedback—to physician and office staff (when applicable)
- Compliance monitoring
- Coding and chart auditing, every quarter
- Credentialing—when needed
During office visits:
- Review information entered in by Medical Assistant
- See and treat patients
- Complete the encounters in the EMR
- Give instructions to the staff, if needed
- Call back/review patients’ requests and questions not answered by office staff—should be minimal
- Review practice and production reports monthly. For more information, please refer to our blog, “5 Quick Steps”
- Think of ways to improve and grow the practice
These roles are just a guide to managing a proficient practice. They will vary by specialty, size of practice, and practice dynamics. The main concept here is that physicians should be involved in the operations of their practice only from a leadership perspective.
Doctors need to review their billing, coding, and overall performance reports on a monthly basis, not daily. In addition, physicians should hold quarterly staff meetings to confirm everyone’s on the same page and working towards the same goals.
The key is devoting majority of attention to business growth and steady cash flow, while minimizing involvement in non-revenue producing functions. To attract and keep trustworthy employees, it’s a good idea to provide incentives to workers for optimal results. Incentives motivate people to work harder, reward excellent results and behavior, and increase job satisfaction and morale.
Having the best team that ensures everything is done properly and quickly, means more time and freedom for physicians to focus on what they really care about. They will be able to help more patients, spend more time with family, get involved in community and medical organizations, and actually enjoy staying a physician in private practice!
Simply Remember: “Delegate workflow for maximum efficiency and results.”
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