Do you know what your medical practice manager does? If you work in a medical profession, it’s vital to the success of your practice that you and your practice manager are
on the same page regarding his or her work duties and responsibilities – and the metrics that are used to judge performance.
Your practice manager is at the heart of your practice, making sure administration and employee management run smoothly so that you can focus on medicine. When things are running smoothly, it’s often tempting to assume your manager is doing an excellent job and leave well enough alone – but something may be falling through the cracks. Clear communication is important to ensure that the practice is managed well over the long term.
Standard Medical Practice Manager Roles
The practice manager handles a broad range of responsibilities and activities in most medical practices. Career Trend lists four areas that practice managers are often expected to oversee, and we agree that these provide a reasonable snapshot of a practice manager’s responsibilities:
- Office Operations. Office operations are a core focus for the medical practice manager. Defining policies, communicating with utilities companies and landlords, inventory management and general administrative troubleshooting should all be within the purview of your office manager’s daily duties.
- Employee Communication. An effective practice manager must be committed to regular communication – both with the practice’s physicians and with office employees. Personnel management will take up a regular percentage of your practice manager’s workload, but it will be important to make sure that daily operations tasks do not overshadow administrative duties in your PM’s work week.
- Money Matters. An office manager must be adept at money management to ensure that the practice operates on an accurate budget and has the necessary cash flow. In smaller practices, the manager will prepare annual budgets and make sure goals are met. In larger practices, this administrator may be overseeing the team that crunches the numbers.
- Facilities Maintenance. The physical state of the practice environment falls to the practice manager. Clean, secure, safe spaces are central to a successful medical practice. The practice manager’s responsibilities can range widely, and should include:
- posting legal notices
- attending to the fire extinguishers
- ordering and maintaining first aid kits
- coordinating repainting or repairs
- maintaining regular maintenance schedules for boilers or other operational work orders
Defining Job Responsibilities
As you can see, the list of duties that must be regularly managed by your practice manager is both broad and deep. When you find a high-caliber practice manager, you’ll want to continually encourage that employee to excel and stay with your practice for the long-term. The easiest way to accomplish this goal is to clearly define these job responsibilities with your practice manager and the rest of your staff.
The “Physicians Practice” blog gives a set of “Guidelines for Reviewing the Practice Manager’s Performance” that we particularly like. It begins by pointing out that two regular problems tend to occur in practices that do not conduct regular practice manager performance reviews:
- The manager may not understand the criteria used to measure performance. He or she may be working hard and feeling like achievement goals are being met – but upper management or the physicians in the practice may feel differently.
- Physicians may not understand the practice manager’s job. Each doctor may feel differently about the practice manager’s performance.
Measuring Job Performance
Guidelines for job performance should be drawn up for your practice manager if they do not already exist. These guidelines should be written as a group by upper management, the physician or physicians who will be involved with the practice manager and – if the position is already filled – by the practice manager as well. This is an exercise that should be given due time and attention.
Performance metrics should be related to specific performance goals. For example, a high net collection percentage can be directly tied to your practice manager's time and effort in collecting accounts receivable in a timely manner. Fierce Healthcare recommends defining these goals based on the practice manager’s position and the size of the practice and then determining whether your manager fails, exceeds or meets each of these set goals.
The All-Important Performance Review
In a medical office, the practice manager’s performance review should be treated as a high priority. A thoughtful and thorough review should be conducted either annually or biannually. According to recommendations by Fierce Healthcare, “best practice is to discuss progress within three to four months of hire and then on an annual basis.”
If your admin is off track, this review is a chance to notice and correct problem areas before major concerns arise. A targeted corrective action plan can make an immediate difference in employee performance. If your admin is right on target, this is a great chance to check in and ensure that your star player is happy in the position and intends to keep doing the good work that is already being done. This is also a chance to review performance guidelines and measurements and adjust them as needed.
Whenever you complete an evaluation, promptly follow up on any tasks that came out of the meeting. If your practice manager is due for a raise because of excellent performance and does not receive it, that can color your employee’s feeling about the position and the practice. If corrective action was required, checking in and providing positive feedback on improvements can help to cement new behaviors.
Your Practice Manager
Each practice is different, and so the skillset that makes your practice manager the right fit for your organization will be unique. When you find an individual that can meet the needs of your practice, take the time to ensure that clear communication is the core of this business relationship. When the one who is entrusted with the reins of your daily operations is happy at work, your practice will thrive.
Contact the medical CPAs at Goldin Peiser & Peiser for additional information and financial strategies to help your practice become more prosperous.
Note: This content is accurate as of the date published above and is subject to change. Please seek professional advice before acting on any matter contained in this article.