Can you imagine how successful we would be if our offices worked as well as our bodies? Simply put, the human body is made up of systems — the nervous system, immune system, respiratory system, etc. Each system does not work independently, but together with the other systems in an organized, methodical rhythm. Each system has a responsibility and then helps the other systems in the process of sustaining life.
A well-organized chiropractic office should be systemized in a manner similar to the human body. The new patient system, report of findings system, patient flow system, paperwork system, recall and reactivation system, patient education system, and the billing and collections system are just a few of the many systems that should be developed and perfected. Each system should work together with the other systems in order to support and sustain the life of your practice. Although our bodies work innately to carry out their purpose, our offices do not. It takes training, practice, meetings, and role play to get everything running smoothly and efficiently.
You must have the proper systems and organization in place to create a successful practice. Otherwise, if patients come to your office and experience stress because of disorganization, they make a judgement about the care given by the chiropractor. A sloppy, disorganized office equals a sloppy, disorganized chiropractor in many patients’ minds. You cannot afford to have patients make this observation. They will be coming in the front door and slipping back out through your office “trap door.” It simply costs too much to get a new patient, and you can’t afford to lose your patients just because of a lack of organization.
When new employees are hired, they must acclimate themselves to your systems instead of making up their own systems. It should take a group decision to change a system — never, never on a whim from any member of the staff, including the chiropractor. Unfortunately, stress abounds when systems gets changed every other day and no one understands how things should be working.
One way to help your office run more smoothly is to create a “position book” for every staff position in your office. The position book should include the following:
- A monthly calendar that lists the fixed monthly duties of that position. For example, send patient statements, patient newsletters, monthly birthday cards, inventory of supplies, reactivation letters, etc. These jobs stay on the calendar from month to month because they are fixed duties. Also include on the calendar the duties that need to be completed that particular month.
- The next section in the position book should be the job description. Whoever is running this position knows exactly what is expected. One of the main reasons there is a high burn-out rate among CAs is lack of job knowledge or even knowing job responsibilities. These job descriptions should be divided into a specified order, and should be very detailed. For example: Opening duties – arrive one half hour before patients, turn on lights in reception room, turn on computers, get cash drawer from safe, prepare new patient folders for the day, computerize payments and charges etc. Daily duties – greet patients, answer phone, check messages, put new patients in computer, call missed appointments. Closing duties – balance cash drawer, make up deposit, pull travel cards or files for tomorrow, put cash in safe. Weekly duties – complete statistics sheet for week and give to doctor, take inventory of orthopedic supplies, send out quality control questionnaires, etc. Monthly duties – monthly statistics, article for patient newsletter, send reactivation letters, etc. Yearly Duties – attend two seminars, update all patients’ insurance information, etc. All job descriptions should include office mission statement, position goal, position statistics responsibility, and position purpose statement.
- The position book should also include procedures for doing the jobs listed. These should be updated by the person in this position. You can write them in pencil on index cards and keep them in photo album refill slots for easy access. That way, any CA who is running this position will be able to easily follow the instructions on the card and will need to ask for minimal assistance.
- The next section should explain the systems of the office. Included should be the new patient system, report of findings system, regular patient flow system, paperwork flow system, patient check-out system, etc.
- The position book should include scripts for each staff position and all original forms that the position is responsible for copying. Copies should always be made from original forms for a professional image.
Organizing and systemizing the office, beginning with the development of a position book, will cut down on staff stress and will allow more time to focus on your patients’ needs. The position book will help the new CA fulfill the requirements of the job and alleviate some of the training responsibility for the office manager. It is a great organizational tool.
Systemizing, organizing and energizing are processes that will take time and hard work, but they will pay great dividends for you and your staff. Not only will more of your patients stay, but your staff will be more likely to stay longer, too. The best part is that your patients will benefit. The trap door of your office will be sealed off, and your patients will look forward to their care in your office. As an added benefit, they will be more likely to refer friends and family.