My secretary of ten years recently left for abroad. If you read my previous blog entry (http://getstartedmd.com/2013/01/make-or-break/) on who can make or break your practice, your secretary sure is one who can! Ms. A has been an efficient partner in my practice. She knows how I want things to be so I can work at my best. She genuinely cares for my patients too. She is like my administrative boss who is able to handle all non medical aspects of the job.
So what do you do when your trusted help suddenly tells you she or he is leaving? I appreciate that Ms. A told me way ahead. She knew I had to find a suitable replacement. She knew also that whoever replaces her had to be trained. Here are three things you can do to prepare for a similar situation:
- Identify the work your secretary does for you (its like a job description). I asked Ms. A to write down everything she does for me then I grouped them into general categories. These may include: documents to keep and maintain, payments to make on a regular basis, clinic operations procedures (for me, this includes how to take patient weight, height and vital signs, vaccine ordering and safekeeping, collecting from HMO etc), location and contact persons of vital offices etc.
- Write up in detail how each of the tasks are done. Make it like how any company would write its manual of operations. If you are just starting a clinic, you may need to write this yourself. But if you have been practicing and your current secretary are doing these things, just have her write it and revise as you see fit.
- If you have the opportunity, have your old secretary train the new one weeks before formally taking over. Run through the tasks with the new one yourself to check if she got things right.
Avoid getting caught off guard! If you haven’t done this, now is the time. If you are just starting, do it to be prepared.
Have you got other ways to prepare? Share and write in the comments.
No, its not your next door competitor. It’s the first person your patients connect with to see you. It’s the person your patients go through to get to you. It’s the last person they go to after you have seen them. Its that one person involved in the whole visit. Whatever he or she does can help or destroy you.
What? Break my practice? How is that possible? Doctor A began to notice that patients coming in for vaccination are getting fewer and fewer. Doctor A finds out from a friend that a patient commented that her vaccine prices were onerous. Doctor A almost fainted to find out her patients were being charged double what she was actually charging!
Who could possibly do these things to you? Its your secretary! Don’t get me wrong, NOT ALL secretaries do these. There are more good ones than bad eggs.
If they can make or break your practice, then it is worth choosing a good one! How did you ? Is she trained to do the job? Does she understand her role in the entire patient experience? Does she have the adequate communication skills and people skills ? Does she have the capability to assess your patient’s sense of urgency? Is she honest and trustworthy?
I base my choice mainly on people skills and willingness to learn.
I am very particular about telephone courtesy and in greeting patients once they enter the clinic. I prepare a set of instructions on scheduling, patient’s access to me, documentation of visits, clinic maintenance and cleanliness etc. My secretary knew she had to replenish the sticker “rewards” for my patients every clinic time. She connects patient to me when they call her. She furnishes me a copy of all my appointments a day before.
Patients can go away because of our front liners. Patients can think that we are inaccessible because our secretaries failed to do their job well.
On the other hand, patients can stick to us because our secretaries are helpful and efficient.
Got tips for others in choosing a very good secretary? How did you choose yours? Please write in the comments below.
Choose your secretary very well. She can make or break your practice.