How do you make your urology practice staff efficient and effective for physicians and patients?

"When we consider potential employees, we look specifically for people who are most likely to care about the people we’re taking care of," says one urologist.

Urology Times® reached out to 3 urologists (selected randomly) and asked them each the following question: How do you make your urology practice staff efficient and effective for physicians and patients?

“I have 7 employees. Communication with your staff is important. I try to have staff meetings every week or so to go over issues and concerns. We don’t just revisit problems that come up. We get feedback from the staff about what they’re doing, and if they don’t think it makes sense to do it that particular way or if I don’t think it makes sense, that’s really important.

I have monthly finance meetings with my office manager/billing person [to] go over all the financial aspects of the practice—the charges, the profit/loss sheets, the outstanding charges. We look at our patient mix and which insurance companies and patients are behaving badly—the full gamut.

I have a research department too. We do the same thing with them but related to clinical studies [that] we’re doing.

I don’t have to do a lot of training in the area of patient relations. If someone is behaving badly or not talking to the patient nicely, we might sit down and have a discussion. To be honest, I almost have more problems with patients treating the staff badly than the other way around, and it’s getting worse. I don’t know if it’s [because of] COVID-19. I’ve been doing a lot of telehealth this year and people are rude and uncooperative and won’t let you talk. It’s kind of disquieting.”

Frederick Snoy, MD

Albuquerque, New Mexico

“We have about 10 urologists in 4 office locations and multiple midlevel health care providers. I’m pleased with the people we have working in this practice. I think they do a nice job.

When we consider potential employees, we look specifically for people who are most likely to care about the people we’re taking care of. I think the most important thing is that the staff members need to care. They need to care about the jobs they’re doing and about the patients’ well-being. I think that’s the key factor.

When we interview potential employees, we vet them as best we can, and, hopefully, it’s going to work. It doesn’t work for everyone, and then we have to make a change. I think the majority of people who work here really care about our patients.”

Scott Slavis, MD

Las Vegas, Nevada

“I try to make everybody understand they’re an important, integral part of the team. I can’t do the work by myself. I have a good scheduler, a good front desk. My staff has to collect the proper data. I tell them to put some brain action into this; they’re not just a companion to walk the patient to the exam room. They must ask questions and fill out the EMR [electronic medical record] properly.

My LPN [licensed practical nurse] is not only a great asset to my practice; she’s sometimes my right [and] left arms. If I forget something, she’s right there with me.

Everybody has to keep in mind that patient care is No. 1. It’s paramount to make sure patients’ questions are answered and there are no loose ends. Everything has to work as an orchestra, with everyone having their proper place in the practice.

People who help me with procedures must be comfortable attending urologic patients. That involves male and female genitalia. If they have issues with that, they won’t be a good fit. Other than that, they must treat people the way they would like themselves or their relatives to be treated. We have to make people feel safe.

Staff need to be properly trained. Urology is a very specific field that not many people are exposed to in their training, so when I have a new employee, I have them shadow either senior employees or me. I like when they have a little notebook and pen in their hands because they should be writing down what they’re doing. I don’t expect anybody to know that at the beginning, but if I’m repeating the same thing after 3 months that I did the first week, then we have a problem. They need to learn as they go along.

I respect someone more when they tell me they don’t understand something and ask me to explain it again, rather than saying ”OK” when they don’t actually know what they’re doing and do it wrong.

This is not like working in a department store shelving your shirts in the wrong cabinet.”

Andre Gilbert, MD

Findlay, Ohio