Medical Office Management Questions

Text Readings

Pearson’s Comprehensive Medical Assisting, Chapter 20

Additional Readings

Required Readings

  • Management Styles: Leadership vs. Firefighting
  • Top 6 Ways to Get an Angry Customer to Back Down
  • Lecture Notes

    Imagine walking into a physician’s office where no one is working the reception area. You walk into the waiting room, and there are no seats to wait in, and you have no idea what’s going on—phones are ringing and people are running around everywhere. Everything is complete chaos! This doesn’t sound like a business anyone would want to work for or visit as a patient or customer, right?

    For a healthcare office to run smoothly, many different parts must work together to meet a common goal. For all the interrelated parts to work together smoothly, policies and procedures need to be in place that not only tell employees their roles, but also tell the entire staff how the business works as a whole.

    Good office managers are organized leaders who know how to rally a team. This includes eliciting feedback and allowing staff to be part of decision-making processes, delegating tasks, and effectively planning meetings that accomplish goals.

    Medical office managers are also often responsible for marketing the services provided by the physician office or other facility. Today, marketing isn’t just about sending postcards with information about the office. With technology playing an increasingly important role in our lives, marketing the business also involves knowledge of websites, social media, and online newsletters and announcements.

    Office managers play an important role in the healthcare provider’s office. They’re master multitaskers who

  • Plan activities
  • Delegate tasks
  • Manage and train employees
  • Ensure that the office is meeting the required rules, regulations, and laws
  • Understand each duty and role in the office
  • Purchase and track supplies
  • Supervise billing and payroll
  • Good office managers require excellent interpersonal, administrative, communication, and time management skills. Office managers will often use resources such as personnel policy manuals, office procedure manuals, and patient information pamphlets to ensure their success. These resources can help to

  • Keep everyone on task for reaching the same goals
  • Clarify expectations
  • Reduce training time
  • Protect the office in the case of legal issues
  • Office Manager Resources

    As you can imagine, it’s impossible to remember all of the information needed to help run an office. Because of this, it’s not uncommon for office managers to have regular documentation to which they refer when questions or issues arise.

    A personnel policy manual is a kind of “rule book” that explains what employees can expect when working at the office and what duties are required of them.

    Personnel policy manuals should include

  • A welcome message that explains basic information about the office
  • A nondiscrimination policy
  • An anti-harassment policy
  • Information on benefits and leave
  • Expected workplace conduct
  • Privacy policies and procedures
  • The office should also keep on file authentication that the employees have reviewed the manual and understand the contents.

    At a minimum, an office procedures manual outlines the

  • Office’s mission
  • Specific duties of each staff position
  • Hierarchy of positions
  • Privacy requirements
  • Patient education is important in a healthcare setting because it helps patients understand their rights and also what happens with their health care in a specific office.

    The patient information pamphlet should include

  • What the patient needs to know with regard to his or her disease and treatment
  • Privacy and confidentiality information
  • Rights as a patient
  • Contact information for the office
  • Many physician offices will create educational pamphlets or leaflets on the most common diseases or treatments that they handle in their office. For example, a cardiologist may have pamphlets on different types of heart disease, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and more.

    Systems Approach

    A systems approach to office management concentrates on how all of the different sections depend on each other and work together in an office. Although each section, or department, operates independently, all the processes must work together as a whole to create a successful business.

    A systems approach isn’t limited to one office. A systems approach can be used between offices, providers, vendors, and more to create one system to treat a patient.

    Planning and Meetings

    Planning and meetings are an important part of any business, including physician offices. Planning and meeting help keep the office running smoothly and everyone on the same page.

    Each month, an office manager should start planning for the next month. This includes schedules, meetings, conferences, seminars, vacation time, and more. By planning one month in advance, the office manager can make sure that any absences by key staff and physicians will be covered.

    One of the most important things to remember is that meetings should be planned and organized to ensure that staff time isn’t being wasted. Some offices will have weekly staff meetings, whereas others may prefer to have them monthly.

    Important elements to remember for staff meetings include

  • Starting and ending on time
  • Distributing an agenda and allowing staff members to add agenda items prior to the meeting
  • Checking in with each staff member and allowing all staff members to speak
  • Summarizing decisions and goals for the week/month
  • Letting staff know of any vacations or time that physicians and staff be out of the office
  • Providing meeting minutes immediately
  • Leadership Styles

    Leadership styles are how managers and others direct and motivate people to perform a task. Although the terms manager and leader are often used interchangeably, they’re technically very different. Managers help facilitate the staff to perform their roles; leaders motivate based on their strengths. Leaders can be anyone on the team—the manager or an employee who has a particular expertise or the motivation to see a great idea to fruition.

    Some people have natural leadership styles, whereas others build and work on leadership styles that they feel work best with their team. As you can imagine, certain leadership styles aren’t always effective.

    There are many different leadership styles, but for this course we’re going to focus on four: authoritarian, democratic, permissive, and bureaucratic.

  • Authoritarian: This style is one of the most restrictive because all decisions are made by the leader or manager with little input from the team. This is a great style when big decisions need to be made quickly. However, this style often alienates staff and, if used regularly, can create an unappealing work environment. Authoritarian leaders are often described as “bossy.”
  • Democratic: This is an effective leadership style that allows staff to participate in the decision-making process. Staff being led by this leadership style often show higher job satisfaction because they feel like they’re being heard and have a vested interest in the business. However, a con of this style can be that it takes a long time for the group to make decisions.
  • Permissive: Permissive leaders give the group the ability to make the decisions and also to implement the decisions. This is an extremely flexible leadership style that gives staff the ability to be creative. However, those who don’t work well without constant direction may find this leadership style frustrating.
  • Bureaucratic: Bureaucratic leaders lead by following a strict set of standards and protocol. These leaders prefer ordered, precise decisions and steps to accomplish a goal. Bureaucratic leaders are helpful in some healthcare situations where a specific set of regulations and protocols must be followed to keep everyone safe. Staff members who aren’t detail oriented and don’t like to follow specific steps to accomplish work may be less successful in this environment.
  • Marketing in Health Care

    By now in this lesson, you’re probably thinking of physician offices and healthcare facilities as more of a business than you did before. Remember, patient care is always the top priority. However, if the business side isn’t running as it should, then it will be difficult for the provider to provide quality health care to patients. Part of what makes the business side of health care run is marketing and customer service.

    Today, physician offices and other healthcare providers need to implement effective marketing plans. It may be surprising to hear that a physician office needs to market its services. However, it’s important for healthcare providers to reach their target audience to bring in a steady stream of new patients. When people think about marketing, they often think of commercials or billboard advertisements. However, effective marketing also includes

  • Websites
  • Training
  • Brochures
  • Mailings
  • Open houses
  • Participation in health fairs
  • Social media such as Facebook and Twitter
  • Customer Service in Health Care

    Customer service is a huge part of the healthcare industry. Because healthcare workers often deal with patients who are sick or uncomfortable, customer service is even more important than it is in other industries. Customer service is different in health care because these “customers” generally didn’t choose to be there. Unlike other businesses and services, people are using the healthcare services because they must. Therefore, providing superior customer service will help make the patient more at ease.

    Great customer service can include

  • Front-desk employees who don’t seem irritated to be interrupted
  • Easy and convenient parking
  • Providing information when patients are kept waiting longer than expected
  • Good directional signage
  • Staff who are proactive when they see confused patients and visitors
  • Using nonverbal cues to ensure the patients know they’re important
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