Never enough time? How delegation in your urology practice can help

September 1, 2007

A failure to delegate is the silent culprit that steals your time and quickly erodes your practice's profitability.

If you find yourself looking at a pile of work at the end of the day and not getting out of the office until way past closing hours, it's time to examine your own ability to delegate. This article discusses the power of delegation and how it will benefit both you and your staff.

Barriers to delegation

Look at what ends up on your desk or on the "to do" list that does not require your skills and develop a plan to off-load these tasks. It begins with determining who is the best person to handle a particular assignment. Here are some examples:

If the month-end practice management reports end up on your desk waiting to be analyzed, ask the manager to provide you with a snapshot of the practice's financial performance. She can prepare visual graphs that show trends of activity from month to month, comparing the practice to national statistics, along with a summary analysis.

If you find a stack of phone messages are awaiting your attention, analyze whether it's because the first message was not properly taken or failed to provide enough detail to be decisive. For example, if Mrs. Smith is complaining of frequent urination, does staff intake include finding out how long this has been occurring, if there is pain with urination, and if the patient has a fever or other symptoms?

When employees are trained to probe for details and understand what information is consistently needed, they can do a better job. This holds true for obtaining more detailed information when rooming a patient, as well. It makes for a smoother day and better use of the clinician's time.

Skilled staff vital

In 25% of the practices I analyze, I find physicians are involved in performing tasks that could easily be off-loaded by training staff to take on more responsibility. On the other hand, if staff, once trained, fails to competently complete assigned tasks or provide the support you need, you may not have the right staff. That's a separate matter altogether. You will quickly discover how dedicated and skilled the staff is once more tasks are delegated.

Effective delegation is methodical and meaningful. You must first identify what task needs to be accomplished and why, then clearly state the expected result and the timeframe. For example, if you are considering purchasing a new ultrasound machine, the research does not require your skill. You can off-load this to your nurse. Let her know why you want a new machine, what information you need to make a decision (eg, features and cost comparisons), and the deadline for her to get the information to you.

Your ultimate success with delegation includes a clear definition of what you want accomplished, asking for the commitment, showing your support, and holding the person accountable.

Follow these steps consistently: