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Use weekly meetings with doctors to keep office running smoothly

Meeting every week with the doctors makes a tremendous difference in how smoothly – and also how successfully – an office operates, says the manager of a pediatrics practice in Colorado.

For her office, it’s an 8 a.m. meeting every Monday, a good time, because it sets the tone for the week. It also keeps everybody on the same page. And it ensures that the doctors know all the issues as soon as they appear, so every problem gets resolved “before it becomes an elephant in the room.”

There’s psychology as well. There are six physicians, each with a different personality. Thus, the meetings “are the glue that holds us all together.”

Along with the doctors and the office manager, other attendees include a clinical manager, the business manager, and some of the mid-level providers.

The discussions are informal “and can go anywhere,” she says. They start with an overview of the financial status – the revenues, bank balance, large purchases, and whatever changes are occurring. So if the office is facing a high expense, the doctors know it’s coming and can decide how to pay it. “Nobody is ever in the dark.”

The rest of the meeting varies.

The business manager might explain problems with coding or denials or with the work flow. The physician on call for the weekend might describe a problem encountered with a patient. Sometimes there’s a guest speaker such as the hospital CEO or the Medicare liaison or a representative from a major payer or a consultant or even someone from the bank.

A vendor might present a new product. When the office was buying a time clock, for example, the vendor explained the cost and demonstrated how it would benefit the office. “With everybody focused on it, the doctors were able to come to a fast decision.” It wasn’t a catch-as-catch-can discussion during lunch.

The weekly meetings “are just good sense,” the manager says. Doctors are busy, and their emphasis is on patient care, so unless there’s a set time to address the business of the practice, very little ever gets discussed. Nobody finds time for it.

And, she adds, the weekly meetings are a help from a management standpoint. Because everybody is aware of what’s going on, the doctors don’t bring individual issues and concerns to her office throughout the week.

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