Do You Have Enough Staff?

Most doctors will tell you that their overhead is way too high and their payroll is the biggest reason.  What I can tell you is that in most cases this is totally false.  Most doctors don’t make enough money because they do not have enough staff.

A lot of doctors focus on their expenses.  Instead, they should be focusing on their production.  Meaning, the focus should be on making money.  Most expenses in the office are fixed.  Of course you can find ways to save money, such as shopping around for better prices for medical equipment and supplies.  But, if you cut out certain employees, you will not be as efficient and you will lose money.  You will be cutting off your nose to spite your face.

You never ever have enough good people working for you.  You should always have that extra person waiting on deck to fill in, just in case one of your other employees decides to quit or needs to be fired.  I call this having a great bench.  This person can do marketing, recall patients who missed their appointments or haven’t been in for a while, or even help out in the front desk or medical assistant areas.  She will definitely help make the office more efficient. 

So, how many employees do you really need to have?  The rule of thumb is that for every doctor, you need 2.5 employees.  That is without your bench player.  So, if you are a one doctor office, you need a front desk person, a medical assistant, and a floater.  This is someone who can do both the front and back.  The rule does not include your billers.  If you bill in house, you need one biller for one doctor. 

The rule is not a strict one and changes depending on the type of practice you have.  Let’s say you do a lot of testing or procedures in your office.   You might then need an extra medical assistant.  You should then do a time analysis. On a 3x5 card, write down the time the patient arrived to the office, what time they entered the treatment room, what time the doctor came into the room to see the patient, and what time did the patient leave.

If patients are waiting too long, then you need to assess the flow of the office.  During one of your weekly staff meetings, bring this issue up with the staff.  They will have great insight of why the patients are waiting too long.  This will help you decide if you need another staff member.

In essence, spend more time on making your office efficient and productive instead of trying to cut corners.  You will be less tired and your bank account will be wealthier.  To learn more about how you can train and manage your staff professionally, join the Top Practices Practice Management Institute.

1 Comments
This post came at a perfect time for me, thank you Rem. I'm a lawyer but I believe that the principals here are the same. I only have the budget for 1 staff member whose only job is the phone, and it is really hurting me. I am starting to think I can't afford NOT to have more help (the vicious circle). In thinking about what my "ONE THING" should be in 2014, I would definitely say it has to be increasing my staff!
by Carol Cadiz December 18, 2013 at 02:15 PM
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