Essentials to Staffing a Medical Practice

As a physician setting up a new practice, there are many things to consider before seeing a patient. This includes but certainly not limited to office space, medical equipment and insurance. One of the most important things a doctor must select is the right office staff. This can literally make or break your practice and its reputation.

Well-qualified and friendly employees can enhance the patient experience making them feel welcomed and more apt to refer your services. Staff that is short with patients and not willing to hear their concerns will certainly drive patients away.

The four staff members a physician must have on his team include: an office manager, medical assistant, billing specialist, and a receptionist. Depending on the practice, some doctors may have a need for more than one person for each position. This does not include office manager. There should only be one manager per practice. Typically, an office can run smoothly with these four positions filled.

Office Manager – An office manager is essentially the eyes, ears, and voice of a practice. They oversee the office staff and attend to any situation that may arise. Managers tend to the business aspect of the office so doctors can concentrate on providing the best patient care possible. Many office managers have a nursing background so they are well-versed on both the clinical and business side.

Office managers also assist with billing questions, phone duties, and customer service. A manager is also the go-to person for staff members on such issues such as payroll, sick leave, vacation, and personnel issues.

Medical Assistant – These clinical professionals perform routine medical duties under the direct supervision of a physician. This includes taking, vitals, height and weight, as well as instructing patients about medications and special diets. They also prepare and administer medications, and authorize drug refills as directed. Medical assistants perform many administrative duties like answering telephones, greet patients, update and file patient medical records and forms.

Billing Specialist – This is a vital position in every medical practice. Billing specialists tend to have a background in medical coding and billing. However, many have also received on the job training. Day-to-day responsibilities include submitting claims to insurance companies, and working with insurance companies to get claims processed and paid. They also review denied claims, verify patient insurance coverage, and answer patient billing questions.

Receptionist – A warm, friendly and knowledgeable person usually fills this role. After all, this is most often the first person a patient encounters when contacting a practice. Receptionists are responsible for answering phone calls, checking patients in and out of the office, and initiating the billing process by giving patients the proper forms to fill. They must also have an understanding of how the office flows and have the ability to direct patients where they need to go during their visit.

As you can see, all of these positions tend to wear many hats. It is important to have dynamic individuals fill these positions. It is also important for the physician and office manager to set the tone for quality. Employees that are friendly, willing to be cross-trained and know their positions well, will help create a stable and thriving practice.

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