Introduction

In the days of yore, medicine required little management. A doctor would set the appointment, examine the patient, prescribe medicines and a compounder or receptionist would dispense them. With passage of time, healthcare has become more structured, rules and regulations have changed and the world of medicine has come under strict laws where paperwork is involved. So along with maintaining patients, the doctor is expected to manage many other tasks like insurance policies, income tax forms, marketing etc. No medical colleges train doctors for all these added responsibilities.

The Need for a Medical Practice Manager

Hence, arose the need for an individual to manage who will attend to all these non-medical chores so that the doctor is free to perform his core services as a physician. The tasks performed by this manager eventually increased and covered all aspects of managing a medical practice other than treating patients1. Gradually, this has now turned into a professional career called medical practice management and the individual hired for it is called a medical practice manager.

He manages the nitty-gritties of the healthcare practice by himself. His role is to improve the quality of healthcare provided by streamlining other processes in ways that can benefit the patient and the physician alike.

One might look at such a manager as added expenditure but the extra amount spent on the manager will help relieve the physician of all other managerial and accounting responsibilities, allowing him to spend more time in patient examination and interaction.

What a Medical Practice Manager Does

Let’s look at a few reasons as to why should you hire one2:

Functional

A medical practice manager can help in the smooth functioning of the clinic, hospital or healthcare set up. In smaller set ups they are responsible for receiving phone calls, scheduling appointments of the patients, etc. while in larger set ups they must hire the staff, allot specific duties to the staff and supervise them. They double up as hiring and human resource managers. They oversee the staff and ensure that clinic is functioning orderly, and remains well-organised and disciplined.

Legal

The medical practice manager is well aware and updated about the laws of the medical field. Hence, he can look after the maintenance of all the clinic/hospital records, patient details, confidential issues, license updates, certification checks of the staff, nurses, ward boys, etc. As the policies and laws are constantly changing, a physician might find it difficult to spare enough time to stay abreast of them. In such situations, a manager will be an ideal addition to your clinic.

Financial

Medical practice managers help to run the clinic in a cost-effective way. They keep a check for any wasteful practices and bring it to the notice of the physician. They are responsible for handling the payments, the billing and other financial matters. They can also be helpful in processing and filing insurance claims.

Marketing

They can help in advertising the practice using different marketing techniques. They can help increase referrals by building and maintaining relationships with other referrers. They can arrange gifts, lunches or dinners with other physicians and save your time. They can develop new schemes, new strategies of increasing the patient flow to

Just like the physician diagnoses the condition of the patient and treats it, the medical practice manager will diagnose the problem areas of the clinic or health care set up and solve them3.

As Tom Ferkovic, R.Ph, MS, rightly puts it, “It’s like, is it better or more cost effective for me to hire a painter while I continue to work or should I just take the time and do the painting?”4

Contributed by Dr. Rachita Narsaria, MD

References:

  1. http://www.medicalpracticemanagementinfo.com/
  2. http://work.chron.com/typical-responsibilities-medical-office-managers-12398.html
  3. http://www.aao.org/yo/newsletter/201003/article01.cfm
  4. http://www.hcplive.com/physicians-money-digest/blogs/financial-health-check-up/09-2011/The-Value-of-a-Medical-Practice-Office-Manager