Medical Staffing: You’re only as Strong as Your Weakest Link

Weakest Link

You may have the best credentials a physician could have. You may also have a terrific marketing campaign, an impressive website and a strong social media presence.  Great!  That will bring patients to your office for a one time visit.  The important question is:  do you have the right staff members to make them repeat patients and a referral source for new patients? Smart medical staffing is a key component to the success of your practice.

Let’s face it, especially now, with insurance reimbursement at an all-time low, patients spend a lot more time with staff members than they do with the physician.  So, it’s even more important that you surround yourself with the right people.  Your staff can make or break your practice.

Also, marketing can be expensive.  So, before you invest any money in promoting your practice, you should make sure that your staff can back up the claims you plan to make in your marketing campaigns. If your marketing efforts drive them to the office, they can be impressed with you, your credentials and bedside manner but if they have a less than optimal experience with your staff members, you risk losing them as a patient.  In fact, your online reputation could (and usually does) suffer too.  We’ve all heard the saying:  a satisfied patient will tell 1 or 2 people about their experience, but a dissatisfied patient will tell 10.  So, how do you safeguard yourself?  Choose your staff members carefully.

Here are some key attributes that your current, and potential, staff members should possess:

  1. Professional Appearance: Their look has to be in line with your brand. The easiest way to ensure that your staff is dressed appropriately is to require uniforms.  Choose a color for scrubs and a style for lab coats for all employees.
  2. Communication Skills: This can’t be stressed enough.  From a patient’s first phone call to their checkout experience, your staff members must possess poise, proper use of grammar and confidence.
  3. Comprehensive Knowledge of Your Practice: There’s nothing more damaging to your reputation than to have a staff member put a prospective patient on hold to ask if you perform a procedure which is your main specialty.
  4. Enthusiasm: When trying to distinguish yourself from the plethora of other doctors out there, nothing is more important than making a patient feel that you’re happy they’ve chosen YOU.  You need employees who can convey that.  A smiling staff member at the front desk can completely shape the entire patient experience.  After all, first impressions are everything.
  5. Teamwork: Are your staff members team players?  How will a new staff member fit in with your current staff?  This consideration can help create a healthier work environment which will benefit not only your staff, but your patients as well.  Not to mention that less tension between employees means less stress for their boss!

You’re probably thinking: “I agree with all of the above, but how do I get all of this while still keeping within my staffing budget?”  This is the hard part, as you get what you pay for. However, if you choose an employee who is smart and enthusiastic and who has a willingness and ability to learn, the rest can be taught.  This is where a good training program for all new employees is critical.  It’s important that all staff members have a common understanding of your practice’s mission is and how you define success.

Conclusion:  Creating a marketing campaign is all about branding your practice.  This can be expensive.  If you’re going to spend money on marketing, you have to make sure the entire patient experience is in line with your brand.  If you’re a plastic surgeon, for instance, your clientele is a bit different from that of a general practitioner who is performing medically necessary procedures that are covered by insurance. Patients considering elective procedures can be very particular and have very high standards.  If they feel as if they’ve entered the DMV when they visit your office, they’ll think twice about spending that disposable income with you in the future.  Your staff has an image to uphold:  yours.  It’s up to you to hire the right people AND to make sure they receive the proper training from their first day of employment.  They need to walk the walk and more importantly, talk the talk.  They need to be informed about what your specialty is, what procedures are your bread and butter, and they need to have enough knowledge of both to do you justice on the phone and in person.  You really are only as strong as your weakest link.

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