Over the last 12 months an entire year slipped by. For some the close of 2011 saw productivity and team cohesiveness stronger than ever. For others it was yet another year of more of the same. Inadequate systems that managed to shuffle through ‘11 will limp into ‘12. Productivity will continue to teeter between the “sorely lacking” and the “barely good enough” levels – not because the doctor isn’t working his/her hardest or individual team members aren’t committed to the cause. Rather it’s typically because the primary focus is on dealing with whatever problem has to be managed right now and not on addressing what caused that problem and what can be done to prevent it in the future.
Ironically, a mere 24 hours over the next year could transform a practice locked in a seemingly perpetual state of crisis management or lackluster success into one of superior efficiency and productivity. Monthly business meetings that are given just two hours of dedicated, uninterrupted doctor and staff time could be most cost-effective, production efficient step you’ll take to achieve your practice’s full potential in the coming year. The key: designate every member of the team a contributor. Here’s how:
1. Block off two hours each month over the next 12 months. These are the 24-hours that you commit to continuously improving your practice during the next year.
2. Develop an agenda with input from the entire team.
3. Include all areas that impact the profitability/success of the practice. For example: numbers of new patients, recall patients, collections, treatment acceptance, production, accounts receivables, unscheduled time units for doctor and hygiene, uncollected insurance revenues over 60 days, overhead, etc.
4. Distribute the agenda at least two days in advance of the meeting.
5. Assign each member of the team to report on the area for which they are responsible. For example, the scheduling coordinator reports on the monthly production as compared to the goal, the number of unscheduled time units for the doctor, and the doctor’s daily average production.
6. Encourage team members to come prepared to discuss topics on the agenda. For example, if the doctor has a higher number of unscheduled time units than desired, the team can discuss contacting patients with unscheduled treatment, encouraging hygiene patients with unscheduled treatment to move forward on recommended care, identifying patients with unused insurance benefits, etc.
7. Seek input from everyone by asking questions such as, “What is your reaction to that?” “As the patient, how would you react?” “What are the advantages of this approach? What are the potential disadvantages?”
8. Delegate responsibilities and establish deadlines for completing tasks identified during the staff meetings. For example, if hygiene cancellations are high and the group has developed a plan to reduce the cancellations the person responsible, probably the hygiene coordinator, needs to know she is accountable for implementing the changes and should be prepared to report on the effects of those changes at the next monthly meeting.
9. Share ideas during staff meetings for improving the work environment, the patient experience, and the efficiency of the practice.
10. Designate the amount of time you will spend discussing each issue and avoid getting bogged down on unrelated topics.
11. Discuss only what is on the agenda.
12. Hold staff meetings off-site in a conference room with a conference table. Many local libraries, community colleges, and other public facilities have public meeting rooms available for use.
13. Eliminate outside interruptions.
14. Seek consensus from the staff as to the best time to hold staff meetings; meetings scheduled outside normal work hours should be paid.
15. Hold meetings at least once per month, more frequently if you are implementing several changes.
Meetings are meant to be designated times in which you can focus all of your energy and team resources on addressing key management issues and problems that arise as a part of operating a small business. Run correctly, they are the most effective means to identify and solve problems, establish policies, share information, motivate each other, define areas of responsibility, and exchange ideas. Use them to your practice’s full advantage.
Shoot HIGH for 2012!