A successful ophthalmic practice has many moving parts, and managing the clinic staff can be quite a large piece of the overall operations. Staff members are an investment in your business, and like any investment, focus and care must be given in order to keep it healthy. Doctors and practice administrators may share duties and even delegate to intermediary management, and harmony between practice administrator and doctors is vital to the overall health and growth of the practice. But who is ultimately in charge of managing clinic staff? Where is leadership focused and is the appropriate person in charge of the ultimate productivity and contentment of staff members? How can productivity, contentment, and quality of care be managed consistently and effectively?
Focus on Effective Training
There is often quite a bit of educational disparity between doctors and clinic staff, which makes effective training not only helpful, but mission-critical. Lay out expectations clearly, and create an open line of communication that encourages staff to ask questions if they are unsure of procedural standards. Create clinic-wide policies and hold routine training sessions to refresh existing staff members on these rules and also reliably impart training to new members of the team.
Make Motivation a Priority
Motivated staff members create a motivated clinic. Employees that are efficient help cut costs, improve patient care, and contribute to a positive environment. Start with ensuring you have the right employees. When hiring, look for those who are eager and motivated the moment they step in the door. All staff members should be on board with current and new processes, and the managing doctor should encourage—and even insist upon—buy-in from all staff members before implementing new processes.
Incentives are also a great way to make motivation a priority. And these do not always have to be monetary. Incentives such as time off, small rewards, a kind word, or public recognition can all help keep staff members motivated. Encouraging and listening to staff input helps create a sense of ownership that can fuel motivation. When staff members feel like they are empowered within their workplace, the investment in the work they do naturally increases.
Assign a Managing Doctor
Assigning responsibility to a managing doctor provides a structural framework with true ownership. This assignment promotes success by delegating responsibility to an individual who is affected by the practical and financial aspects of the clinic as a whole.
The managing doctor is often a senior ophthalmologist, but can be any doctor who possesses leadership skills, experience, and a vested interest in the position and the success of the clinic. The chosen doctor should be proactive, well respected by staff, and consistent in both their words and their actions. A managing doctor has some unique advantages in that they are deeply aware of the clinic’s workflow and day-to-day activities. As a doctor, they will be intimately aware of the operation and the duties of the clinic’s other ophthalmologists and supporting staff members. As a practicing ophthalmologist, this doctor will also have the authority and clout to enforce rules and remedy issues as they arise, and understand the context necessary to make proper managerial decisions.
Staff members are one of the most valuable assets of an ophthalmic clinic. Investing in a good leader, good training, and an eager workforce is critical to a productive and positive staff environment. If current leadership is faltering, don’t hesitate to reconfigure the hierarchy. After all, this is a business, and businesses rely on the synchronicity of the human element, practical considerations, and financial care to create sustained success.