Life as a practice manager isn't easy. If you're reading this article, you've probably already experienced it - and 2020 didn't make your job any easier. With the pandemic targeting vulnerable individuals in our society, we as practice managers have had the mammoth task of making significant changes to our daily operations and processes in the interest of patient care.
Don't get me wrong, you've done a great job to survive thus far, but we are here to provide you with some tips to hone your practice management skills.
Take a step back
After such a hectic year, probably just trying to keep your head afloat in day-to-day operations, it is an excellent idea to take a step back and look at your current practices and tools as a whole.
Take an audit of your entire practice; patient care protocol, software management system, electronic health records, staff members, and business operations. Although 2019 might seem like a lifetime ago, what are things that have changed, slipped, or been updated? What things are working and what aren't? Have any of your past practices or tools become obsolete? Were any of the processes implemented in 2020 short-term bandaids that now need to be revisited?
Once you've answered these questions, you'll have a good idea of where your priorities lie and what you will place at the top of the list in your strategic planning. It will be different for everyone, but when auditing my practice, I noted that we were in desperate need of a software management system in the interest of our staff members, office management, and patient care.
Stop holding out on technology
Reluctance to adopt new technology is, unfortunately, a common theme amongst healthcare professionals. This is a shame because it's detrimental to both the clinical staff and clients and often means that individuals within the mental healthcare industry experience avoidable inconveniences and delays. Covid-19 has forced the hand of many healthcare practitioners as they have either have to make significant technological advancements or fail to see their clients at all. This trend will continue, with telehealth and online services becoming more and more common throughout the world. Now is the time to embrace new technology and consider your organizational skills as a good practice manager. What do your business administration practices look like? How do you store your client's health information? Are your online communication skills up to scratch? Use those problem-solving skills you possess and take the time to attend some seminars, read blogs or watch youTube videos to learn what might suit your practice best and how to use it.
Personally, I took the leap and started using an online practice management software - Carepatron. It has been life-changing for me as a medical practice manager (and I didn't need a bachelor's degree to learn how to use it!). Click here to try it.
Put your client's first
Client's are the essence of our work. Unfortunately, in the realm of medical practice management, we are often so stretched for time and resources that we forget why we need healthcare management at all. Think about how your team members interact with their clients and how they might experience their interaction with your practitioners, administrative staff, and client retention.
Suppose changes are made to demonstrate to your clients that their time is important and that patient care is important to you. I have found using Carepatron helpful because, with automatic calendar reminders, neither my staff nor my clients miss appointments. We no longer struggle to find health medical records because they are misplaced in the filing cabinet. Finally, the fact that they are HIPAA compliant means one part of my job description (worrying about confidentiality because of lost paper files) is gone!
My team has found that the more valued a client feels, the more quickly we can build rapport. This has made our role easier because clients are more willing to unpack their issues, and we can provide more efficient and effective care to our clients.
Look after your team
A big part of my practice manager job is human resources, and although one might think that mental health practitioners would have excellent interpersonal skills, they still require support at times. Working within any medical office in 2020 was hectic, and so as a practice manager or office manager, I feel as though I need to provide a template of care for my staff so that they don't get burnt out in their roles. Again, this is a perfect area to do an audit. What is our staff retention? Are staff receiving reimbursement for working overtime?
Know when to get help
As a practice manager, it can be difficult to say you feel out of your depth or need help with something. Get some support with specific roles, employing new staff, or seeking new technology to improve your processes. Hold a meeting to consider how much time you and your team spend on non-revenue generating tasks such as billing and invoicing, note-taking, and trying to find lost paperwork. Use this feedback to determine the most cost-effective way to improve efficiency, compliance, and practitioner/client satisfaction (for us, it was implementing Carepatron).
Although it may seem like you don't have time to take a step back for yourself, let alone undergo a full-blown practice audit, I think you'll find it should be something to prioritize as moving forward; it will save you endless amounts of time and unnecessary stress.