What Hinders a Medical Office Staff’s Productivity?

Benchmarking statistics indicate that the "best" practices  defined by physician revenue, income collections, and accounts receivable ratios  have higher staffing ratios than the "average" practice. Although decreasing staff might reduce your overhead, it may have a greater negative impact on revenues.

When making staffing decisions, evaluate how productive staff members are. Examine support staffers, especially clinical support staff, to see what factors might impede their ability to get patients ready for you to see. 

  • Volume.  Sheer volume can bog down even the most efficient worker. If you want to hit your production maximum as a physician, your support staff must have "excess capacity." For example, if you expect to see six patients per hour, staff should have the ability to send you seven or eight patients.
  • Mistakes and corrections. When staffers spend too much time correcting their own or others' mistakes, determine if workers need better training, more effective motivation, or improved accountability. For example, require anyone completing a form to initial it. People are more careful when they must sign their work.
  • High employee turnover. New employees generally require more time to perform routine tasks and responsibilities than do veteran workers. If you experience high turnover, explore ways to attract and retain more experienced staff members. But remember that even experienced new hires need orientation and training on your practice's way of doing things, your computer system, and the like.
  • Overspecialization. This can lead to decreased efficiency or a "that's not my job" attitude; cross-train your staff where you can, so employees can fill in as needed.  
  • Wasted motion. Poorly designed space may require staffers to leave their primary workstations to perform routine tasks. This wastes time, and may be a temptation to put off (and maybe forget about) tasks.
  • Inadequate systems. Slow, unreliable computers and phone systems, redundant paper forms, and other inadequate business systems frustrate and hinder staff.
  • Poor communication. Staff members become demoralized without open channels of communication. To make the right decisions in their work, they must be clear about from whom they take instruction/to whom they report.
  • Interruptions. FAQs on your practice website, well-placed signs in the waiting room, and well-written instructions for patients can help cut down on incoming phone calls. (Note: Patients calling to make appointments are not interruptions for a receptionist.)
  • Employee attitudes. If particular employees are underperforming, they might need additional training, warnings, or as a last resort, dismissal.

If you need hands-on help recruiting or training staff, or assessing you staffing needs, turn to TMA Practice Consulting. To find out more about TMA's members-only consulting services or to speak with a consultant directly, call (800) 523-8776 or email TMA Practice Consulting.

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Last Updated On

September 07, 2021

Originally Published On

March 23, 2010

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