Personnel Management

A key function in medical practice management is personnel management. Personnel management is essentially a three-pronged effort concerned with the welfare and performance of employees: identifying and hiring employees, using employees to the optimum benefit of the organization, and maintaining top-performing and satisfied employees. In all organizations, not just medical practices, having a person or team focused on the well-being and performance of the employees is critical for ensuring that the quality of work is consistently high.

Staffing a medical office is no simple task. Before the search for new employees even begins, a manpower assessment must be performed. This type of study identifies areas where additional employees are needed and helps prevent an organization from taking on new personnel where they might not be in demand. Maintaining the correct balance of manpower is necessary to prevent financial loss due to an excessive payroll as well as keeping current staff from being overworked. This last item is particularly important in medical offices, since mistakes are potentially fatal. Once it is determined that additional help is required, the hiring process begins. Applicants are screened and interviewed with an eye toward identifying individuals with the needed skills and a temperament that gels with the work environment. The process may also require the creation of entry materials to introduce the new hire to the policies and procedures of the office.

As an office evolves, staffing needs may change. It is an important task of any practice manager to routinely survey the office work flow and the individual work loads of each employee. For example, immediately following a Medicare policy change it may be beneficial to have a single employee, who formerly handled billing and scheduling, shift to focus exclusively on billing to make sure that the new policies are implemented correctly. Alternately, when employees complete continuing education classes to increase the scope of their capabilities, their job description may need to be altered to better utilize their new talents. Indeed, supporting employees in continuing their education can help an organization fill gaps in productivity from within, rather than hiring a new employee and increasing the payroll. Keeping an eye on office procedures and employee duties is critical to effective medical practice management. These types of shifts help a medical practice by improving organization and by using all employees to their maximum benefit.

The satisfaction of each individual employee is also important in managing a medical practice. Personnel who enjoy their work environment, feel challenged but not overwhelmed, and perceive themselves as valued employees tend to work harder than those who don’t. Accordingly, personnel management has evolved to include ensuring the emotional welfare of employees. This can be accomplished in a number of ways, such as supporting in their continuing education, acting as an advocate when workplace problems arise, or providing counseling for those who need it. Counseling is frequently needed in medical office settings where fatalities are common, such as in oncology or geriatric care.

Large-scale organizations may have a team of people involved in personnel management, while small medical practices may have just a single person or have the duties rest with the practice manager. No matter the size, every medical office needs to plan for its growth and evolution and to identify strategies for maintaining an optimal workforce through it all.

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