How to keep the pulse on your practice's finances, staff

August 15, 2005

Knowing when and how to turn work over to someone else is an art.

No matter how good you are at running your practice, if you are like most physicians, you recognize that this has become far more difficult in recent years. Health care politics, tight economics, and less-trusting and -respectful patients add pressure to practicing medicine. To top it off, the less-motivated Generation X has now entered the labor market. The future of your practice is affected by your ability to implement strategies that use the talent and energies of your staff and your ability to keep a pulse on practice finances.

Managing business finances, holding on to good employees, and creating the best work teams to get the job done are not easy tasks. It is time to throw away some of those past management habits and move into the future. This article offers tips to get you on the right track.

Six reports you need

Decide what information you want to look at each month and have the manager prepare the data in an easy-to-interpret format. For example, you will want to know about the accounts receivable performance, but that doesn't mean you'll want to look at every management report the computer generates. The manager should be able to summarize this information in a succinct report and provide visual graphs that tell the story. These monthly reports can provide a clear understanding of the practice's performance:

Armed with the information gained from these various reports, you will be able to see shifts in patterns. Irregularities can then be further explored to determine if and what corrective actions should be considered.

Know when to let go

Physicians and their managers can easily get caught up in performing office tasks that don't require their level of expertise. Such tasks frequently have little significance in running a successful practice, improving operations, or influencing patient satisfaction. Handing off these tasks to other members of the staff would free you to concentrate on the clinical side of the practice and your involvement in the medical community. By freeing up time through delegation, your manager will also soon discover the areas where she or he can excel, make a difference, and get concrete results.