What is a Medical Office Manager?
A medical office manager is someone who is responsible for the entire operation of a medical practice. But be warned - running a medical practice is definitely not for the weak or faint of heart. Not all people are cut out for a managerial position because overseeing a business (or even just aspects of a business) is tough and stressful.
The Three Golden Rules
In the medical management world, medical office managers should remember and live by three golden rules. These three rules can help them deal with, and even possibly eliminate, a long list of problems.
One of their ultimate responsibilities is to make sure the medical practice is in top condition; honestly, the practice’s underlying success depends on them. Talk about a great responsibility! But, no individual is an island. And even though most managers are expected to know everything that happens in a medical office setting, office managers should also strategically distribute the workload, supervise and motivate the staff, and coordinate the smooth operations of the medical office.
Unfortunately, when something goes wrong in the medical practice, it is so easy to point fingers at the office manager. The same thing happens when something good happens, all praises and credit go to him or her. That is why it is crucial for medical office managers to always be keen, diligent, concise, and goal-oriented.
So, let’s go to the rules, shall we?
Rule #1: You Should Know All the Job Functions
Every role, no matter how big or small the role is, in a medical practice counts because every staff member contributes to the success of the entire organization. To be an effective medical office manager, you must be knowledgeable of all the job functions of your staff. As the manager, knowing the job functions of each member of the staff/team is essential. It’s important because office manager help with training, motivating and managing the entire staff on a consistent basis.
It is essentially vital to the survival of a healthcare organization that the office manager is fully aware of what is necessary for each job function. An organization can lose its rights to continue offering healthcare services in their community if certain compliance requirements are not maintained. Therefore, having broad knowledge of each job function leads to better leadership and helping all staff members work together to reach the goals of the practice.
Rule #2: Communicate Effectively with Your Staff and Patients
Effective communication is not just merely talking and listening. Effective communication means that you have mutual respect and understanding between staff and management. It is for the benefit of the medical office manager to set the tone for effective communication.
As an office manager at a medical practice,
- You should establish clear expectations for each employee. It is important for managers to be very specific about what is expected from each employee.
- You should provide feedback. Employees need to be given feedback on a regular basis whether it let’s them know that they are doing a great job or provides them with constructive feedback that helps them improve their work performance.
- And more importantly, you have to listen. Employees can be an excellent resource for office operations. They have first-hand knowledge about office processes or policies, and they can offer great ideas to assist in making office tasks operate more efficient.
Rule #3: Monitor Your Staff Without Micromanaging
Micromanaging employees can have the reverse effect of what a manager intends. The staff consists of different types of employees with different personalities and work ethics. Employees would be ten times more effective in their job functions if they feel trusted to make decisions and are given the chance to be responsible for the quality of their own work.If you are providing feedback on a regular basis, employees are aware that their work is being monitored and they will be held accountable for their productivity. The staff will more likely be motivated to excel when they do not have the stress of a manager watching and directing their every move. Trusting employees to do what they were hired to do will allow the manager time to focus on other areas.
These three golden rules are a great foundation - and if you want to become a better office manager at your medical practice, you should definitely keep them in mind. However, don’t just stop there. There’s a lot more that you can do to make sure that you are the best office manager that you can be.
Do not manage from your desk
Step out from the four corners of your office frequently and take a walk around in order to make sure that your staff and clinic is functioning well. You need to move around the clinic and observe, engage and interact as much as you can. In order to maintain a healthy working environment, and for you to know everything that is going on in your clinic, it is important for you to interact with your staff, physicians, and patients several times every day.
Answer phone calls and emails, and always return messages
I think we can all agree that it is common courtesy to answer phone calls and emails if you are available, and return calls and messages as well. As a medical office manager, you should not need to be reminded to always answer calls. This is the most common complaint among staff members in the medical field - most office managers do not answer their calls and messages. So, by simply picking up your phone, you are already a step ahead of most office managers.
No gossip in the workplace
If there is any gossip circulating around in the office, it could create trouble between employees. Make a no-gossip policy in the handbook. This could help avoid conflicts between staff, physicians, and patients.
Do not be scared to get your hands dirty
One of the responsibilities of a medical office manager is to know how each job is done. If the clinic is understaffed, you should be able to jump right in and help. If there are certain job functions that you do not know, do not be scared to ask to be trained by the people who are knowledgeable about the job. Trust me, they would truly appreciate it if you wanted to learn; your staff would probably feel needed and appreciated.
Market your practice
Create a wide range of open networks outside your clinic. There are many regional clubs and associations that have a vast array of specialties that you may use to your advantage. If you create or join networks, this can allow you to market your physician services and practice to other offices and learn what kind of strategies they have.
Show exemplary example
Be an epitome of respect, hard work, gratitude, kindness, professional dress code, proper work ethic, and punctuality. As much as possible, avoid unscheduled absences and late arrivals. This will motivate your staff to follow your example and stay motivated to work.
Meet with representatives
Meeting with them is not enough, you also have to listen and be thorough in reviewing their proposals for your clinic with your physicians. Every day, there are companies who have something to offer your clinic that could help it run more efficiently. Give at least 20 minutes of your schedule to a representative that you think could improve your clinic in some way. Who knows, they might present an offer that can help you be more cost-efficient and increase your clinic’s revenue.
Hold weekly team and department meetings and encourage communication between staff members and departments. Never shoot down ideas in a rude manner, because this can decrease a staff member’s motivation to work. Promote problem-solving, seek consensus about group decisions, and channel conflict towards positive outcomes.
Treat the people you mingle with well
The way you treat others is a reflection of who you are as a person and what kind of values you have. Make sure you treat every single of one of your staff and patients with the respect and care that they truly deserve. And, not just in front of them but even when they are not around. Not only is it the right thing to do, but it will also set a good example for your staff and you will earn their respect as well.
Last bit of advice
If you’re not currently as good of a manager as you would like to be, don’t worry, you can get there. Change doesn’t happen overnight. Just don’t get complacent, and continuously find ways to improve as a manager and become a better leader - a good place to start is with the rules and tips that are shared in this post!