Top-five secrets to running
a great practice
by Grant Lum, MD, CCFP, Dip Sport Med
What is a great practice? Is it one where the patients are happy and well
served? Where al staff members are welcoming and friendly, and seem
genuinely happy to be doing their jobs? Is it one where the doctors feel at ease that
everything that is supposed to happen to support their work is done almost without
their asking, and on time? For most practices, the answers to these questions are
Yes, Yes, and Yes again!
The best-run practices require several
ner, architect, contractor. Just like
adequate training for the staff and the
key elements in order to achieve al of
referring a patient to a good surgeon,
physicians. The rewards in terms of
these goals. But how do they do it?
hiring a specialist in each of these areas
time saved in looking for charts alone
Here are the top-five secrets to running
to give you advice wil always leverage
wil repay the investment.
a great practice.
their greater knowledge, insight and
Invest in your physical plant. Spend
experience to help you find the best
time, effort, and reasonable amounts of
1. Hire great people
money in the construction of the office,
Hire a great office manager, and let
arrangement and choice of furniture,
him or her handle day-to-day opera-
2. Establish great systems and a
equipment, etc. Don’t forget that you’ll
tions. Set clear and concise goals for
live in the office for about eight to 10
your practice. This can be achieved by
Your telephone system is likely the
hours per day, or more. Make it func-
developing an office policy manual for
first point of contact for anybody get-
tional, but also make it comfortable.
both employees and physicians. Don’t
ting in touch with you or your practice.
get in the way of the office manager
Establish good protocols for your staff
3. Make a commitment to constant
by sweating the details. Have input
to fol ow — when to interrupt you, and
into designing the systems that wil be
more importantly, when not to. Make
Take notes on the processes and pro-
used, but don’t micromanage.
sure messages are detailed and clear,
tocols that are working, and those that
Listen to your front-desk staff —
and include phone cal time in your
are not, and set aside time to review
they’re on the front lines, and they know
weekly schedule so that it doesn’t inter-
those notes monthly. Again, ask for
what works and what doesn’t. Ask for
rupt a busy patient day.
input from your front-line staff.
their help to make things more efficient.
Your computer system is also vital y
Hire good people to give advice —
important. A strong recommendation
4. Remember that medicine is a
lawyer, accountant, human resources
would be to invest in an electronic med-
consultant, benefits/pension/tax plan-
ical record (EMR) system, and also in
We’re here for our patients, so it’s
OntariO Medical review
important to show up on time, and
thing different — change something
thinking about it and making plans to
be polite to your staff as wel as your
in your practice, your office, or your
improve it. You’l recoup your effort
patients. One of the most important
attitude. Medicine is a cal ing, not just
many times over!
elements to success is having a good
a job. It’s that great sense of purpose
attitude. It’s difficult for patients to tell
that drives us to become physicians in
Dr. Grant Lum, MD, CCFP, Dip Sport Med
whether their physician is real y empa-
the first place. Having the privilege to do
is the medical director of Athletic Edge
thetic, but they can tel if he or she is
the work you always imagined yourself
polite, and it is often this trait that gives
doing should be fun. Except, perhaps,
patients confidence that they are get-
for the paperwork!
The Practice Management column is pro-
ting good care. You must not only
Take the “Twelve Points Office
vided by the OMA Member Services
exhibit professional skil s, you must also
Efficiency Test” below to see if you
Department. Do you have a topic or ques-
be able to maintain a good rapport with
are running a great practice (Source:
tion you would like to see appear in the
your staff and patients.
Secrets of the Best-Run Practices by
Ontario Medical Review? Please let the
Practice Advisory Service team know at
5. Have fun!
Any practice can qualify as a best-
416.340.2911, or 1.800.268.7215, ext. 2911,
If you’re not having fun, then do some-
run practice if you put a bit of time into
or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Twelve Points Office Efficiency Test
1. Is the staff working late?
2. Is office morale down?
3. Is staff turnover more than 15% annual y?
4. Are charges posted within five weeks from date of service?
5. Are there more than five claim inquiries of rejection on the bil er’s desk?
6. Are more than 20% of your accounts received aged more than 90 days?
7. Do you experience more than 10 abandoned telephone cal s per day?
8. Do you fail to respond to telephone messages within two hours?
9. Do physicians get interrupted (for non-emergencies) in the exam room?
10. Do physicians have yesterday’s charts on their desk when they arrive in the office each morning?
11. Are employee performance reviews overdue?
12. Do patients wait in the reception room more than 15 minutes before they are cal ed in for their appointment?
If you answered yes to more than three of these questions, your office efficiency needs to be addressed.
Source: Secrets of the Best-Run Practices, Judy Capko, 2nd ed. Phoenix, MD: Greenbranch Publishing; 2010.
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