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home | Free Stuff | Practice Blockage Series: The High C . . .

Practice Blockage Series: The High Cost of Wrong Staff
Ben Cummings

In this article learn why wrong staff can cost you $50,000 a year! Three symptoms you have improper staff. Why wrong staff equals death to patient flow and more!

“But my staff is the best…”

If you were to ask doctors if their staff is effective, they always reply “of course.” No one has ever admitted they employee less than desirable staff.

By the same token, I’ve yet to have a single doctor in the last 8 years ever tell me that they provide “mediocre service, at best” to patients. Yet, we know for certain that the majority of offices do. I discuss this inability to evaluate ones own condition in Monster Patient Flow (Vol 1), when we discussed service excellence in practice. The wrong staff placed in the wrong position…

Can be deadly to a practice.

Wrong staff = Death to Patient Flow

One Midwest doctor who joined our Mentor Program a year ago needed some serious help in boosting his patient flow. We evaluated numerous things and on the surface he appeared to be doing many things properly. Only after exhausting the usual possibilities did I begin to suspect that his “awesome staff that had been with him for 12 years” might be the problem.

Even though this doctor strove to have extremely satisfied patients, he was getting only a couple referrals a month. After being in practice for over a decade! I encouraged him to hire a friend to play “mystery shopper” and go through the experience of a new patient. The mystery shopper was to: 

  • Call his office
  • Ask questions, like a new patient might
  • Schedule an appointment
  • Show up and fill out the patient history paperwork
  • Bring up a minor problem, to see how staff dealt with every day issues

Well what this doctor discovered about his “awesome staff” sent him into a panic. He called me to say that he had discovered that his best employee – one who essentially handled his office management tasks – had been rude, had not followed up when appropriate, had mishandled the minor problem, and had generally done an extremely inadequate job.

All right under the nose of the doctor. How was this possible? How could he have not seen it? You see, it’s extremely difficult to objectively evaluate ones own situation. Especially when it comes to Staff that we have personal relationships and friendships with.

Symptoms of Wrong Staff

There are three main symptoms of wrong staff in a practice:

  • Low referral flow
  • Low retention
  • Personality “mis-match”

Wrong staff can easily cost the typical practice up to $50,000 a year or more. My Mentor Client above was losing at least 5-10 potential referrals a month as a result of one wrong staff person. If we take an average case value of $1,000 for this client, this one staff person really is “costing him” $5,000 to $10,000 a month!

“But I can’t afford to get rid of my staff” – well I hoped I’ve shown you, that you can’t NOT afford to get rid of  improper staff. Some doctors allow their staff to hold the practice hostage. Something I cover in detail in the 100% Turnkey Practice course, is  the issue of systematizing the basic practice tasks so as to minimize the reliance on any one employee in the practice. This is vital!

You’re only held “hostage” to the degree to which you are in the dark as to exactly what your staff does in their jobs. I once had a doctor tell me he couldn’t get rid of staff or he would be ostracized from his church!

The other problem is personality mis-match: The goal is to align the correct personality type to the correct job. For example, I once hired a very “detail oriented person” to answer our telephones and handle client relationships. What a disaster! She was much better suited to buying her head in paperwork and would have been much better suited to handling our accounting function. 

  • Someone who is strong with detail is well suited to managing medical claims. Not telephoning inactives and trying to get prior patients excited about coming back in! 
  • A “people person” – the type who thrives off the energy of other people and loves such interactions – would be extremely unhappy stuck in the back office, doing paperwork and following up on the details of medical claims.
  • Problems arise when we stick one personality into a job that runs counter to this behavior bias 

Finally, lest you think I point the finger only at your staff…. the doctor too must accept responsibility as well. After all it’s your practice. I’ve seen too many situations in which an ad is run, someone hired, and the employee is tossed into the practice with inadequate training yet expected to do a good job. I have a philosophy: No one shows up to work “not” to do a good job. Instead we often fail to provide absolute clarity to a staff person as to what it takes to succeed in that job.

Don’t ignore what wrong staff is costing you!

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