Medical practice management can be a uniquely challenging job. The pace is blisteringly fast, the days are long, the patients are demanding, and the tasks are constantly changing. Sometimes knowing what not to do is as important and difficult as knowing what you should do. Nobody is perfect, but if you want to support your practice effectively, encourage growth, and keep patients coming back, you must avoid these five common medical practice mistakes.
1. Lacking clarity in organization, systems, policies, and procedures
Ask any practice management solutions expert for advice and they will tell you that failing to plan is planning to fail. Organization is everything, but it goes far beyond simple scheduling, to-do-lists, and address books. You don’t need a crystal ball, but somehow you still need to look into the future to anticipate challenges before they become problems. The more infrastructure you can build into your practice management, the less room you’ll have for error. Take time to clearly lay out systems for everything from time management to the patient database. You won’t regret it.
2. Misunderstanding marketing
Organic growth and word of mouth are the quiet engine behind any successful practice, but proactive marketing also plays an important role. Many practice managers imagine that an ad in the Yellow Pages and a stack of business cards are enough to keep business coming in, but times are changing. Marketing is an investment, not an expense, and if your advertising budget is small, you can stretch it with creativity and time. Make a point of learning about your potential patient base and educating yourself on up-to-date marketing techniques. There’s a wealth of free resources and advice online for anyone who takes the time to look.
3. Losing track of the patient experience
The day-to-day work of managing a medical practice can be all-absorbing. Lists, numbers, correspondence, calendars, and schedules crowd your brain and clamor for attention at all times. It can be easy to get bogged down in administrative tasks and forget the most important ingredient for a healthy practice: happy patients. Even as back-office staff, the work you do directly affects the patient experience. Keep their needs and wants at the front of your mind, and you won’t go wrong.
4. Hiring the wrong staff
Your team is your biggest investment and your biggest asset. If you make hiring mistakes, they can also be your biggest liability, expense, and headache. Whether you’re dealing with clinical staff, assistants, or front-desk help, you need passionate, motivated, caring people with exceptional skills. Don’t make hiring decisions under pressure, don’t rush, and don’t ignore your gut instinct. It’s worth the time and expense to bring candidates in for a second or third interview to ensure that you’ve got the right fit.
5. Not asking for help
Yes, being a medical practice manager often seems to mean being all things to all people, but that doesn’t mean you’re actually on your own. Especially if your practice is undergoing a period of growth (which means you’re doing something right!), you may occasionally feel that you are in over your head. The worst thing you can do is bury your head in the sand: problems can snowball before you know it. Face your fears straight on, and ask for the help you need to get the job done right. Do you need extra administrative support? Expert consulting advice? A break? Go get it.