Over the years I’ve assembled many, many budgets for physician practices. Some of these were done for banks and financing, some as a footprint for new partners, some for one and three year plans for benchmarking growth and a variety of revenue and cost line items.
In assembling budget costs, I’ve always been surprised at the attitude taken toward the cost of front and back office staff. Most physicians have wanted to allocate the minimum amount of money for these crucial employees, taking the lower end of salary ranges as stated on various websites or as paid by their peers as the cost guideline.
Hiring these people has often been treated as a “not my responsibility” as the practice takes shape or reshapes itself to accommodate new physicians. The typical path seems to be hiring an administrator first (a subject of a future article) and then leaving it up to him/her to assemble the non-clinical staff. And usually this is done with little input from the physicians.
In every other small business I can think of the owner usually sets the standards for, and is involved in the hiring of the people who are the “face” of his business. They usually want to be part of selecting those who are the first to interact with their prospective customers, be it on the phone or in person. They spend an extra amount of time with these people.
Not generally so with most small medical practices. Since there’s no mission statement involved in most there’s no directive that sets the tone and starts the conversation about how to best handle patients and their families at the initial point of contact and beyond and what impression they want the practice to make on the public. In my experience if find most docs rarely get together with the key staff to discuss how they want their practice to present to customers, vendors, other physicians, etc.
So between a lack of a directive in hiring parameters, going cheap, and little involvement in who ends up being hired you can end up with some terrible social media scoring and negative comments that last forever on the internet.
So how do you assemble and direct a front office (and back office, who frequently deals with patient problems more than anything else) that will project the practice image you envision? A few steps to get you started:
But it has a huge impact on your medical business. Maybe equal to the clinical relationship you want to develop. It’s a high priority on the front end, and will continue to be every day. Don’t overlook it! –Tom Ellis
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