Taking Charge of HR Issues at Doctors’ Offices

Everyone knows there is a big nursing shortfall, but, due to the rapid growth of the healthcare sector and its sheer size, there is a need for highly qualified individuals for a variety of roles at doctors’ offices. It’s a challenge to fill jobs. And despite this need, there are obvious pressures for cost containment with people accounting for the lion’s share of an office’s expenses.

HR management and compliance issues can be confusing for your medical or dental practice. Among areas that need attention:

Recruiting–new hires.
Job descriptions.
Background checks.
Wage and benefit reviews.
Staff development training.
Employee performance appraisals.
Insurance forms .
Compensation accounts for up to 30 percent of costs in primary-care groups. Many practices tend to be understaffed to try and save money, but that leads to morale problems, affecting how employees deal with patients.

Indeed, there are dozens of ways that medical offices mismanage their most important asset—from avoidable layoffs, to poorly planned workspaces, to policies that encourage sick workers to drag themselves into the office—it’s a wonder anything ever gets done. HR blunders can send productivity down the tubes.

Meetings can be a time suck: Staff meetings are a great way to keep your finger on the pulse of your practice, but they can also be a big waste of time. Planning can help. Before your next meeting, draft an agenda that clearly outlines the objective, goals, and topics. Don’t forget to identify a point person to keep the discussion on track and always include timeframes for addressing each point. It’s equally important to distribute the agenda in advance as an e-mail or hard copy to each attendee so staff comes ready to contribute.

Social networking interrupts workflow: Text messaging, e-mail, Web surfing and social network sites can be office time-wasters. Studies have found the constant checking of in-boxes throughout the day interrupts workflow, taking employees sometimes twice as long to complete their tasks and increasing the rate of errors. But banning access is not necessarily prudent. A lot of physicians are creating company Facebook pages and blogs as a means to attract new business. Just make clear to your employees that online communications should be appropriate—not damaging the practice’s reputation or business interests, or exposing the practice to a potential liability.

Compliance with myriad standards: Healthcare is embracing the processes and technology necessary to effectively manage compliance, while implementing talent management and workforce planning solutions. Better performance management practices will enable offices to identify, develop and retain not just all employees, but the right ones. Additionally, as the pressures in the workplace mount, there’s more focus on quality of life initiatives.

Doctors’ offices look for compassionate people who have good communications skills. There is a pressure to strive to make HR better. It has become an imperative to employ better processes and technologies to overcome challenges. Keep up with technological change—advances in technology require continual training and career development for employees to remain effective and maintain standards of care.