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A four-day week improves quality of life as well as revenues for Florida office

Four days on with Fridays “sort of ” off is terrific, says the practice manager of a five-physician, 28-staff medical office in Florida.

Quality of life is improved with that extra day every week, she says. And the added advantage is that revenues are above and beyond what they were previously.

The practice manager proposed the four-day schedule several years ago when gas was hitting $5 a gallon and people were looking at expensive commutes. The doctors liked the idea, so the office moved to a four-day, 10-hour schedule for everybody, including the doctors. It advertised the change for 30 days with notices in the office, on the voicemail, and on the bills.

Four long days suits everybody.

Patients like it because it gives them extended hours. Previously, appointments started at 9 a.m. with the last one scheduled at 3:45 p.m. Now the first appointment is at 8:30 a.m. and the last is at 5:30 p.m. Staff like it because they have a three-day weekend. Their hours are from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.

On Fridays, the front door is open, but the schedule is light. One physician sees patients in the morning, and a lab person, a medical assistant, and one front desk staffer come in. Everybody rotates working on Friday mornings and the job is pleasant because it carries overtime.

The manager also keeps a four-day week but is available on Fridays from home. She directs her voice messages and email to her cell phone and answers all calls that come in. She tells patients she is calling from home, and they appreciate that. Every message gets answered even if the response is no more than, “I’m out of the office today, but I will get back to you Monday.”

Over time, she says, the Friday calls have become few. The office went into the change on a trial basis. The bottom line is what’s important, she says, and she told staff that the four-day weeks could continue only as long as the revenues were not affected. In response, staff started working to keep the office busy so the numbers would be there. They put extra effort into keeping the schedule full, making reminder calls two days in advance, and rescheduling no-shows.

And they have continued those efforts, she says. They know that if revenues go down they will have to discontinue the four-day weeks.

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